I was a reluctant viewer of “Shameless.” I was a huge fan of the original British series (at least the first four seasons, before it went off the rails), and I was frustrated by the first half of the first season. It looked a lot like the pilot episode of the American version of “The Office”: A beat-by-beat recreation of the British show with different actors playing the exact same characters. Fortunately, by the end of the first season, the American version began to find its own storylines, and this season its relationship to the British show is only in name and character (in the British version, both Steve and Fiona were out by this point, and most of the original cast — save for Frank — was out soon thereafter. The British show shifted much of its focus on Mandy’s family in subsequent seasons).
“Shameless” is basically “Parenthood” for the lowest socioeconomic class. It really is unique for television to focus on the rabble, so to speak, and to so often get it right: Lip’s arc has been brilliant: Here’s one of those archetypical sitcom geniuses, who — on any other show — would follow that bootstrap dream to an Ivy League education. But not in “Shameless.” In “Shameless,” he’s doing what most kids in his situation would do: Knock up a girl, drop out of school, and repeat the cycle.
It’s been a dark season, and Monica’s suicide attempt reached a new level of darkness last night: Here you have a family sitting around for a nice Thanksgiving dinner, and the kids walk into the kitchen to find their mother bleeding out from her slashed wrist. Again, Frank doesn’t turn into TV Dad. He doesn’t save the day. He runs. He gets drunk. And he leaves a mess for his family. That’s almost to real to stomach.
But the cruelest twist last night was Karen’s kid. Not only did she lie about it belonging to Lip, but the kid also has Down’s Syndrome, and I could feel the crushing sadness of the adopted-family-to-be abandoning it. That poor goddamned infant. It doesn’t have a prayer. Nobody in this show does, which makes those smallest of miracles — like Bald Eagle dinner — seem so much more profound.
What did you guys think of last night’s penultimate episode of the season? If you don’t watch, then I’m sure you at least have an opinion on Emmy Rossum’s FHM spread. Hello, Fiona.