Shameless has aired its 100th episode, a milestone that normally marks a momentous occasion for any TV series. At least, one would hope that it does. #100, which was once considered the threshold for syndication, now generally serves nostalgic value in the streaming era. It’s important to consider, as well, that TV seasons are generally shorter these days (especially in the cable and streaming-service realms), and instead of taking a handful of years to reach 100, successful series often have to reach season 9 to achieve the distinction. That’s a long trek and one worthy of gifting something special to faithful viewers, but the Gallagher family rang in the occasion with a run-of-the-mill episode.
This feels like a wasted opportunity and one that could have reignited some audience goodwill amid deteriorating quality this season, especially given that Emmy Rossum’s Fiona isn’t yet getting her due before leaving the ensemble cast. Instead, the “Do Right, Vote White!” episode featured Frank pushing his white-power, sex-offender candidate to congressional success. Elsewhere, Lip made an excruciating decision about Xan’s future, Debbie lost her first girlfriend, Carl participated in a “duel,” and Ian’s still doing the Gay Jesus thing. Such a lackluster episode could have easily been spiced up with the return of any of the following departed characters. Let’s talk about what could have been.
Sheila Jackson: Last seen driving away from her house (as Frank’s ill-fated beer enterprise caused the structure to explode) in an RV, Sheila gave Joan Cusack a chance to embody one of her quirkiest characters. Everyone’s favorite ex-agoraphobic homemaker also did what few characters on this series have been capable of doing — persuading Frank to truly humble himself (though yes, he usually got what he wanted in the end). Yes, this difficult feat demanded some unorthodox maneuvers, including some downright terrifying sex toys, yet Sheila also embodied the soul of the series. She was nutty as a rabid squirrel and had endured so much as a character, but it was time for her to leave the show when she did. After all, it only seemed fitting that Sheila escaped the house where she once self-served as prisoner, yet it would bring viewers joy to see Frank’s aghast expression if she showed up for comeuppance purposes.
Steve Wilton/Jimmy Lishman: Many seasons ago, viewers suspected that Fiona would never begin entering into healthier relationships with men, but out of every dirty, rotten scoundrel that she’s dated, only one holds a special place in fandom’s heart due to smoldering chemistry with the leading lady. That would be the con artist played by Justin Chatwin, who was first known as Steve and later revealed to be Jimmy and then, briefly, Jack. I’m actually convinced that producers have left Chatwin’s naked bum in the opening credits for a solid reason, something that Emmy Rossum has openly wondered about on Twitter. Perhaps that butt’s still visibly hanging around as a weekly hint that, someday, Jimmy might return for good after disappearing twice and making a disastrous third attempt (remember, she slugged him good) on Fiona’s heart. He hasn’t revisited the show for years, but Chatwin did appear at the 100th episode event held by Showtime. Is this a sign that he’ll show up in Fiona’s final hurrah (the season finale) with that medical degree and motivate her to ditch secret playboy Ford? Viewers couldn’t wish for a better ending to Fiona’s story.