Family Day is big here in Singapore; parents bring their children out for a day out in the park, brunch, malls, etc every Sunday. If I have a family in the future, our Family Day would encompass us ordering takeout and watching The Simpsons (it will probably still be in season 40) on the home TV. Now that would be a timeless tradition worth passing on from generation to generation!
I spent the past couple of days completing the first season of the Showtime version of the hit UK series Shameless, which is an hour-long dramedy about the Gallaghers. You may have heard a lot of buzz online about the show when it first aired in January, probably due to the fact that Emmy Rossum bears it all in some scenes, but aside from the naked truth, Shameless is one hell of a show!
First off, the Gallaghers are not your typical silver screen family who kiss and hug at the end of every episode. If you thought Claire and Phil on Modern Family had some whacky moments or the kids from Skins were majorly screwed up, wait till you meet Frank, Fiona, Debbie, Lip, Ian, Carl and Liam Gallagher as well as their eccentric neighbours! Imagine a not-so-perfect Brady Bunch who scrap for bills and food in a tough Chicago neighbourhood.
Frank, played by the irrepressible William H. Macy, is a negligent and alcoholic father of six, who are led by Emmy Rossum’s Fiona, the tough-as-nails eldest sister. Consequently, the series follows the struggles of the Gallagher siblings, who try to make ends meet in the face of Frank’s scams and schemes. Along the way, Steve, who is a conman played by Rossum’s Dragon Ball co-star Justin Chatwin, enters Fiona’s life and complicates matters for the family while Karen’s relationship with her estranged father makes a turn for the worse. Karen happens to be Lip’s crush/best friend/friend with benefits.
The season finale explores the relationships between Lip and Karen, Fiona and Steve, as well as to a certain extent, Frank’s relationship with Lip and Debbie. Throughout the 12 episodes, we see Fiona struggling to strike a balance between her role as the responsible provider for her younger siblings and Steve’s promise of an easier life, which culminates in a poignant final scene in the finale. Will Fiona follow Steve, who is on the run from the cops, to beautiful Costa Rica? Or will she stay back and fend for her siblings like she has done since her mother abandoned ship?
You know what? I simply adore Lip (Jeremy Allen White), who has been my favourite character throughout the show. He’s the oldest brother; he’s streetwise and smart, and he shuns a university education to continue providing for his siblings (by sitting for other people’s SATs). His friendship with Karen, who is probably the most damaged character in the series (and that’s saying a lot), gets even more complicated when she sleeps with Frank, who is dating her mother Sheila (played by the phenomenal Joan Cusack), in order to get back at her father (played by the guy who played Freddy Rumsen in Mad Men), who called her a whore in public. Twisted? You better believe it.
Plaudits should go to creator Paul Abbott, who is also the mastermind behind the original UK production, and his writers for an utterly edgy and gritty finale that reflects everything that makes the show, well, so shameless. While some arcs are overdramatic and a little too outrageous for my liking, the same can be said of Skins, so who am I to complain?
With an abundance of blood, joints, bars, sex and WTF moments, Shameless is like Skins if all the characters were siblings whose love for each other knows no bounds. The Gallaghers (even Frank sometimes) have heart; they have real world issues, and you can’t help but hope they get through everything overtime.
Note: All Skins mentions in the post refers to the UK version, the US one is an abomination that should never be mentioned again.