Review: ‘Shameless’ – ‘Civil Wrongs’

03.24.13 5 years ago 22 Comments


A quick review of tonight’s “Shameless” coming up just as soon as I discover the cure to comas…

I love “Shameless,” but find it’s a show I’m happier not reviewing every week. But I wanted to weigh in on “Civil Wrongs” for two reasons:

1)I happened to watch it while my wife – who has never seen the show before – was in the room, meaning I had to constantly pause it to explain things. There are few shows on television that are more difficult – or more uncomfortable – to explain three seasons in than “Shameless,” but it was funy to be able to really lay out the chronology of things like the Lip/Karen/Jody/Sheila/Frank sex pentagon, or to explain who Bato is in relation to Jimmy. We all know this is a demented show about people who (sometimes willingly, sometimes reluctantly) do unspeakable things with regularity, but if you watch it long enough, you can get used to a lot of the depravity.

2)That said, “Civil Wrongs” comes at an especially depraved – and funny – stretch of the series. When Frank Gallagher is in stunned disbelief asking, “Is this really happening?,” you know the series has reached a new low/high. Frank becoming a high-paid pawn in the war between gay marriage advocates and conversion therapy believers has perhaps been my favorite Frank story ever; certainly, it’s the first time I’ve found him as funny as I think the show wants me to. (It helps here that his victims aren’t the members of his own family, but Frank’s gift for oratory has also played to William H. Macy’s strengths.) And to feature Frank reluctantly having sex with a lesbian to the sounds of “Sexual Healing” in the middle of an episode that also features Jody performing cunnilingus on a coma patient and Kev celebrating the fruits of having sex with his mother-in-law  puts the show in a particularly “Shameless” place.(*)

(*) One nitpick: Frank’s dismay at having to perform for the two gay studs Brad Whitford presents to him ignores the times in the past (like when Liam was held hostage by the drug dealer last season) when we’ve seen Frank do things with men to make money. 

After the emotional fireworks of the custody battle, I think it makes sense for the show to move in a lighter direction for a bit – though, of course, this lightness comes in an episode where Lip figures out his current girlfriend tried to murder his previous one, Ian struggles with the Mickey news and Fiona and Jimmy hit the skids over his plan to flee to Michigan to finish med school. There’s always going to be a tonal back and forth on the show, but the comic highs and dramatic lows remain in equilibrium.

Fun episode. Sick episode. Great season so far.

What did everybody else think?

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