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(Column) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – ‘Shameless’

Shameless. Never has a show been so aptly named. 

Kate Rice


Shameless. Never has a show been so aptly named. 

For 11 seasons, this Americanized version of the originally British show made me laugh, cringe, empathize, and make the sign of the cross in hopes that I’m not going to hell for watching.

It also taught me the difference between the concept of “predictable” versus “inevitable” storytelling, thankfully offering more of the latter. 

On the South Side of Chicago…live the Gallaghers. There’s daddy Frank, the poster child for wasted intellect who never met a drink or drug he didn’t like. Oldest daughter Fiona’s trying to take care of herself and five younger siblings, all the while dealing with her dumpster fire of a love life. 

Those siblings are Phillip, or “Lip,” a literal genius who tends to make bad choices, and Ian — gay, bipolar, and at turns responsible or a total loose cannon. 

Debbie’s next. She devolves from a sweet, mature-for-her-age kid into an immature, hotheaded teen mother (the latter by a very deliberate and definitely problematic choice.)

Then there’s Carl. Not the cleverest kid, but he’s got a good heart. He progresses from delinquent to military school cadet, landing at last on neighborhood cop. 

Liam, the youngest of the clan, is a bright, often overlooked kid who, in later years, forms a bond with Frank that the other kids lack. He’s black — despite having white parents and siblings — but a DNA test proves that he is, indeed, a Gallagher. 

Shameless delivers some crazy-good couples, too. Sweet but dim Kevin and whip-smart Veronica, longtime Gallagher neighbors and friends. Ian and neighborhood thug Mickey Milkovich, as volatile as they are adorable… 

(Mickey to Ian: “Alright sh**head, this is like the two hundredth time I’m calling and you not picking up! I’m starting to get f***ing homicidal. Call me the f*** back, Ian! I’m worried about you. I love you. Call me back.”)

This show regularly bounces between realistic and outlandish. The constant financial struggles and domestic issues that nearly tear the family apart are relatable; adventures with a Russian prostitute, crazy welfare scams and pretty much any of Frank’s drug and booze-filled antics are not. (Well, hopefully…) Still, when you tear through Shameless’s explicit, criminal and socially unacceptable wrapping, nestled inside is an emotionally layered show about family, relationships and community.

Shameless’s language and inappropriate situations might turn some folks off, but if you’re into edgy, fun, dirty, humor-laced drama, give this show a try. Watch Shameless on Showtime on Demand, or stream all 11 seasons on Netflix.