Thursday, 27 January 2011
For anyone who hasn't seen Showtime's newest TV series, Shameless, you're gonna want to get on that. It airs each Sunday night at 10pm, just after the also-great Californication, but I recommend watching it from the beginning, as there is a continuing plot line that needs to be followed to get anything out of the show.
William H. Macy stars as Frank Gallagher, an alcoholic, unemployed, proud single father of six kids in working-class Chicago. He does a great job portraying an incredibly selfish yet lovable sleezebag, and also excels at playing a drunk without overdoing it. Emmy Rossum, besides being smoking hot, is also superb as Fiona, the responsible oldest daughter and de facto parental figure. And Joan Cusack does well in a supporting role. In fact, William H. Macy takes up a small amount of camera time for the show's lead character; he is always drunk and rarely home, and the show focuses on the Gallagher's day-to-day ordeals.
The show reminds me of Cheaper by the Dozen, only a version that is not totally lame. Frank spends most of the family's money, including his monthly disability check, on booze, meaning every child must contribute to surviving, yet they are also going through their own growing pains and trying to figure life out.
Fiona meets a guy in the first episode (the charming, romantic-yet-badass type) who wants to help but who's good intentions don't always translate to good actions. His pursuits seem to bother Fiona, and it becomes clear that she's got some self-esteem and trust issues. "Lip" (Phillip) is incredibly smart, raising money by tutoring and taking the SATs for kids, but one can't help but wonder if and how his potential will be harvested. Ian is in the army ROTC, but a few minutes into the show we find out that he is gay, and has not come out to anybody. His relationship with Lip takes a brief turn for the worse, but in the end the two seem to grow closer, and their relationship becomes a regular part of the show's appeal.
There's also the two neighbors, Kev and Veronica, who are pretty much a part of the family. Kev is the bartender at Frank's bar, while Veronica and Fiona are best friends. They help the Gallaghers out financially, and their wild and crazy "sexscapades" provide regular entertainment.
To me, the best part about the show is how it manages to tackle a wide array of social and political issues - sexuality, manhood, womanhood, alcoholism, drug use, drug abuse, government entitlement programs, economic classes, and family/parenting - while managing to remain hysterical. The writers do a great job developing the characters and their relationships, and the story takes an exciting twist at least once every episode. It is well acted, well produced, and tells a compelling story.
I highly recommend it, even though it is one hour long and has continuous plot line, which usually turns me off of shows.
Read more about Shameless, and watch the first 3 episodes here. You have to subscribe to Showtime to watch, but they do allow you to watch a few episodes for free. I'm sure you can find it for free on Surf the Channel or tvduck, and it is also available on demand if you are already subscribed to Showtime.
Also, check out William H. Macy discussing his new role on Conan.
Have you seen Shameless? What did you think of it? What are some of your current favorite TV shows?