SHAMELESS: Trailers, a preview clip, & my take
On Sunday, January 9th at 10 p.m., Showtime will premiere its new show Shameless. A U.S. remake of a U.K. original, Shameless was created by Paul Abbott, who has teamed up with John Wells (ER, The West Wing, Southland) to adapt the series for American television. I was sent a screener for the first three episodes, and loved what I saw, so I thought I would share a spoiler-light preview (i.e. just enough plot details so that you can determine if this might be your cup of tea). Showtime offers the following description of the show:
“Frank Gallagher is the proud single dad of six smart, spirited and independent kids, who without him would be … perhaps better off. The brilliant William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum star in this wildly engaging and fearlessly twisted new Showtime Original Series. The Gallaghers may not have much in the way of money or rules, but they know who they are—and they’re absolutely, wildly, unapologetically SHAMELESS.”
Here are two trailers, giving you an introduction to the Gallagher family:
And here is a clip featuring Steve’s (Justin Chatwin) introduction to the Gallagher family, after coming home with Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and her neighbor Veronica (Shanola Hampton) following a fight outside a club:
Okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s my take. It is definitely a show for an adult audience. There is some full frontal nudity, semi-graphic sex scenes, swearing, harsh language, etc. Tonally, the show is a bit different than the previews make it seem. It is less a celebration of wacky shamelessness than an honest look at a struggling family that does not dwell on their hardships. And the Gallaghers know from hardships. I liked the lack of sentimentality, combined with an ability to really make the audience care about the characters. Furthermore, it doesn’t get too over the top. Sure, it gets wacky at parts—particularly when it comes to the agoraphobic Sheila (Joan Cusack)—but on the whole, it felt realistic. Much of this can be credited to the superbly cast Gallagher children, who all look and act like real people. In a show like this, it is really important to not hate the kids, as is so common when it comes to children on TV. (Or is that just me?) But that is not a problem for Lip (Jeremy Allen White), Ian (Cameron Monaghan), Carl (Ethan Cutkosky), Debbie (Emma Kenney), and even little Liam. Lip and Ian are especially complex and well-developed characters, and Debbie is absolutely lovable.
Of course, my favorite character is the eldest daughter, Fiona, who is really the focal point of the show. I am very impressed by Emmy Rossum’s performance, as previously, I had only seen her in Phantom of the Opera. She is very un-princess-like here, and fits the role surprisingly well. Her dynamic with her drunkard dad is well-played, and believably heart-breaking. The task of raising her brothers and sister really falls on her shoulders, though the older kids pitch in, but she avoids taking on the saintly martyr role. Fiona still likes to go let loose and have fun, as we see in the pilot, and this is how she meets Steve. Steeeeeeve. Sigh. I love him so. I was already completely invested in the Steve-Fiona relationship after watching the pilot, and the next two episodes only intensified this. I predict that many of you will need to make room in your hearts for a new imaginary TV boyfriend.
The character that I probably care least about is Frank, the alcoholic father. Despite his considerable acting skills, William H. Macy spends a lot of time as basically a lump on the floor. Literally. In episodes two and three he is developed further, but he remains rather unlikable to me. Which is probably the point. Still, he can be entertaining, and his behavior is key to understanding the lives of his children.
In addition to the Gallagher family and Steve (swoooon), there is the couple who lives next door: Veronica (Shanola Hampton) and Kev (Steve Howey). So far, their lives are ancillary to the main family, but I have hopes for more depth there. I am enjoying both actors, Hampton especially, so I look forward to more range. And then there is Sheila (Joan Cusack) and her daughter Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins), who are part of some interesting plot developments. But I will leave them a mystery for now.
If you are interested in watching Shameless, but you don’t have Showtime, there is good news. Sorry for the late notice, but starting Friday, January 7th, through Monday, January 10th, U.S. viewers will have the opportunity to sample Showtime programming during a Free Preview Weekend. More details at Showtime’s site. This would also enable you to catch the new half-hour comedy Episodes, which I previewed back in December. Enjoy!