Showtime Original Series – “Shameless” – An Entertaining, Sensory Overload of Depravity

In Television on February 11, 2013 at 11:15 am


Pushing the envelope on television is something that we have come to expect and accept as a society.  After a while, the shock value tends to diminish, and it becomes harder to rise above the din to make a viewing audience shake their head in disbelief.  Showtime’s Original Series “Shameless” has always pushed the envelope more than others, but this week’s episode – “The Helpful Gallaghers”  – has proven that there is no low that is too low and no subject is too taboo for a show built on a foundation of depravity.

Shameless has the potential to make you laugh out loud at the hi-jinks of the most dysfunctional family in the history of television, but it also has the potential to make you cringe when it goes way beyond the boundaries of good taste.  The worst offender is the patriarch of the family – Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) – a scheming alcoholic who thinks nothing of using his children to get what he wants.

The current storyline has Frank hitting a new low.  In an attempt to get free tickets to a Chicago Bulls game, he shaved the head of his 10-yr old son – Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) – to convince people that he is dying of cancer.  Though he wasn’t able to make his own Chicago Bulls dream come true, the consolation prize was a week at sleepaway camp for Carl with other terminally ill children.  However, Carl is perfectly healthy.  He just has a maniac for a father who convinced him that he has cancer.  It is an infuriating storyline, but somehow, you manage to stop focusing on Frank’s disgusting antics long enough to enjoy watching Carl’s impact on other kids at the camp.

While Carl is away at camp, the chaos at home continues.

The oldest of the six siblings and de facto head of the family – Fiona (Emmy Rossum) – holds a get-together for her fellow co-workers  to discuss the sexual harassment that each is dealing with at their supermarket job.  There isn’t another show on television that would discuss the harassment in such graphic details, but that’s what Shameless is all about.  There is no such thing as innuendo on the show.  What you see is what you get.

Fiona’s boyfriend – Jimmy Lishman (Justin Chatwin) – does his best to help her run the dysfunctional household, but he is dealing with issues of his own.  When the couple met, he introduced himself as Steve Wilton, in an attempt to conceal the fact that he came from a wealthy family.  His indiscretions made him the black sheep of the family, which is probably why he was able to blend in with the low-income, scrapping-to-get-by Gallaghers.  In this episode, the skeletons in his father’s (Harry Hamlin) closet come out in a shocking way.  On any other television show, it would have been the one shocking moment, but on Shameless, it is just par for the course.

Meanwhile, the eldest Gallagher son – Phillip “Lip” (Jeremy Allen White) – goes with his girlfriend to pick up her half-sister after the girl’s mother dies of an overdose.  Because the girl’s father is a child molester, they choose to bring her back to the Gallagher home until they can find her a proper place to live.  The girl instantly befriends Debbie Gallagher (Emma Kenney), an 11-yr old girl who runs a daycare center in the house to help the family earn money.  During an ordinary conversation between the two, something extraordinary happens.  Any further detail would be a huge spoiler for those who haven’t seen the show yet, but suffice it to say, the turn of events only could have happened on Shameless.

Any of the events that took place in this week’s episode would have been the primary storyline on any other show.  But Shameless is not like any other show.  It is a weekly sensory overload of depravity that keeps the audience coming back for more to see what will happen next.   It may be hard to believe, but this week’s show featured even more depravity that cannot even be described without requiring proof that all readers of this article are at least 18 years of age.

Shameless is definitely not for everyone, and should not be viewed with children anywhere in the vicinity, but if you’re looking to watch a show that seemingly has no boundaries, then this show is must-see television.

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