Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meet the Gallaghers, Showtime's 'Shameless' Family

Who doesn't love an underdog? A 'tale as old as time', watching characters overcome the hand they've been dealt is always good TV. For a society that loves to watch people hit rock bottom, and then attempt to build themselves back up (like Britney Spears and the fun-loving train wreck that is Californication's Hank Moody), Shameless is unapologetically just right.

A remake of a British television show of the same name, the first episode opens in blue-collar Chicago, with alcoholic Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) introducing his six children. The main focus is on Fiona (Emmy Rossum), the eldest, who basically runs the household, collecting money to pay the bills, getting the kids off to school on time, and taking care of the youngest, a toddler. She's the rock of the family, has multiple (I counted three) jobs to help scrimp and save while Papa Gallagher signs over his disability checks directly to the bar he frequents.

The true protagonist of the show, Fiona is hardened by her circumstance. All in one episode, she meets and reluctantly falls for a guy, Steve, who seems too good to be true, only slightly jaded by her situation. In her defense, he DOES buy her a shiny, new, washing machine. Not sure how this relationship will turn out, since happy doesn't really last long on cable.

Another thing about cable television, on channels like HBO and Showtime, is that pretty much anything goes. From nudity to swearing, it can be realistic in that we're not really censored in real life, but just because you can swear and be nude all you want, doesn't mean you do. After that first episode, with the raunchiest sex scene I've seen on TV pretty much ever, Shameless runs the risk of having to spend the rest of the season living up to that shock value.

Notable mention to Joan Cusack, for finally getting the chance to be in something her brother isn't already starring in. She was actually the most interesting character of the premiere, playing an OCD mom who can hardly take her eyes off the Food Network. So much so that she doesn't notice her daughter spending entire tutoring session under the table, showing gratitude to the second-oldest Gallagher child, Lip.

I must admit, I like the dysfunction of it all - the chaos, commotion, and how wrong it is. With compelling, and seriously flawed characters, it makes for a great story, and an enjoyable addition to the Showtime television family. I guess we'll have to wait and see if they can keep it up, or if the need to 'shock' the audience trumps the root of the story they're trying to tell.

Shameless is on Sundays at 10 pm on Showtime (U.S) and Mondays at 8 pm on TMN (Canada).

No comments:

Post a Comment