Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of Shameless. Catch up on previous coverage here.
Shameless by its very nature is and always will be a show about a family of screw ups doing their very best to live with the card that was dealt to them, namely the good for nothing parents who left them in cars and abandoned them. They aren’t necessarily bad people but they live by their own code of ethics about what’s right, what’s wrong and what will allow them to keep a roof over their heads. With this as the backbone of a series it’s difficult to keep the momentum up and there’s an unwritten shelf-life that comes along with the premise. How many seasons will viewers watch of characters continuing to make the same mistakes, grow little, all for the sake of what made the show so popular in the first place? We like how scrappy the Gallagher’s are and how when push comes to shove they know what they need to do in order to survive but it’s also nice when we see a bit of progression in their lives. It’s why I was thrilled when Lip made it to college and when Fiona cut ties with Jimmy and why the Mickey and Ian relationship was something fans could celebrate. Sure, the character’s weren’t completely reshaped into model citizens but they’d taken steps in bettering themselves.
So much of my problem with season five and the last two episodes of season six have been the show backtracking in it’s character development in order to ensure that the drama that comes along with being a Gallagher would still be in place but it’s created storylines that are stilted the crucial error in re-writing character personalities to justify their terrible decisions. I say this with some mild trepidation but “The F Word” signals as a step in the right direction after episodes of the show seemingly lost in their own mantra.
The biggest surprise of the night comes in the form of Ian who is utterly heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time and it’s executed beautifully because I don’t believe we’re supposed to fully take his side in the matter. Lip has helped him get a job at his University after Ian lost his (foolishly) with Fiona at the diner and it’s as a janitor, creating some disconnect between the brothers of Ian’s own making. Ian’s been lost ever since his bipolar diagnosis and his anger towards Fiona is ridiculous, there’s a reason why she’s looking over his shoulder about his medication, but it also makes sense knowing Ian that he’d be in need of a breather. For so long he knew his own form of independence, for better or worse, and seeing Lip in his element gives him both a sense of freedom and ugly envy. When Ian drunkenly asks Lip if he could crash with him for more than the night Lip isn’t the most delicate in turning his brother down, saying that he feels like he’s “earned” his space. Once again the show is pulling us in different directions. In a sense Lip is absolutely right. He worked hard, dealt with shit and he does deserve his own world of his own that isn’t his family. On the other hand Ian was so forlorn, so painfully vulnerable in his request that it’s hard not to be judgmental of Lip for not being there. Of course it wouldn’t be these two if it didn’t end with them brawling and Ian tosses out the idea that Lip hasn’t worked for what he has while Ian has already peaked and it’s a mean fight, one that ends with both wounded, Lip with a bloody lip and Ian in spirit.
Fiona too is going through a psychological crisis as Debbie continues to be the worst teenager in existence and I couldn’t help but adore Fiona’s triumphant moment of putting her foot down against Debbie’s theatrics. After appealing to Debbie’s sensitive side by sharing with her the news of her own pregnancy and telling them they can both go through the abortion together, Debbie schemes instead, enlists Frank’s help and they create an intervention. When that doesn’t work Debbie tries to guilt Fiona into supporting her decision and that’s when Fiona wipes away the tears and icily tells Debbie that she should feel wrong that Frank is the only person in her life that thinks it’s a good idea and that if Debbie goes through with it to not expect to live in the house or receive any help. It’s tough to watch but completely warranted after everything Debbie has put her through.
Also in Frank’s terrible news, him flippantly telling Fiona her mother hadn’t wanted her and telling Debbie that he forced Monica into having Carl brings us crashing back into the fact that even if Frank is played as comic relief he’s an absolute despicable human being.
Fiona meanwhile demonstrates once again how resilient and strong she is on the outside even when on the inside she’s falling to pieces. Her scene with V as she fell apart was brilliantly acted by Emmy Rossum as was her seen with Sean later when she finally told him the truth and that he was going to have to deal with it.
If we weren’t all aboard the Sean train we should be down, especially seeing Gus again which convinced me once and for all that he’s the worst of any of Fiona’s suitors. Any guy that writes a trash song about you isn’t just a coward, he’s a dick and no, I don’t feel that Fiona deserved it one bit. Good riddance.
The less said about Carl the better.
I haven’t mentioned Kev’s storyline yet mainly because anything to do with the neighbor is like nails on a chalkboard but Steve Howey was fantastic as comic relief this week and showcases once again that of all the characters it might be Kev who’s the most earnestly good hearted.
So much of the character’s anger in this episode (this season really) is completely unwarranted, directing itself outwards instead of addressing their own personal struggles that are making them angry in the first place. This doesn’t make that anger any less understandable, just frustrating to watch play out. What it also hopefully indicates is a time for change and the Gallagher’s are seemingly being forced into it, with a classic Shameless ending as Ian get’s the adrenaline rush of saving a woman’s life and Fiona walks up to find an eviction notice, ending part of hers. Wonderfully shot and genuinely moving, it’s a move the show hasn’t done before and I’m intrigued by how the Gallaghers, Fiona mainly, is going to work her way out of this one.
Welcome back Shameless.