TV Review: “Shameless” – Slow, but Steady

Written by Meredith Pow January 31, 2014

Episode 401

Keeping Up with the Gallaghers

Showtime’s “Shameless” is back for its fourth season with more than a couple changes underway. The disappearance (and presumed murder) of Jimmy “Steve” Lishman at the end of last season was bittersweet in my opinion: sad of course, but ultimately justified by allowing room for new faces on the show. “Shameless” has welcomed Jake McDorman as a regular playing Mike, Fiona’s boss who she begins dating. The show has also put a stronger focus on different plotlines, taking us through the disobedient early adolescence of Carl and Debbie, and the adventures of pregnancy with Kev and Veronica “Vee”.

Perhaps the biggest change is for the character of Sheila, played by Joan Cusack. Her strangely occupied household, which I grew to love more than the Gallagher’s place, has now been emptied and evidently Sheila’s become as lonely as ever. In addition, Lip’s now at college, Ian’s joined the army and Fiona’s working an office job that’s allowing her family to move up the poverty line. Overall, the first three episodes of season 4 leave Sheila’s character as well as the rest of “Shameless” looking slightly out of place. However, I am hesitant to judge the new season based on first appearance because “Shameless” is a show that consistently amazes me with its raw acting, dark humour, and exceptional depiction of dysfunctional family. Season 4 is a clear example of how change can sometimes be neither good nor bad, but just simply different.

Shameless-4x03

Conflicted Emotions

Of course, what would “Shameless” be without the most shameless character of them all, Frank Gallagher. I’ve only now realized the slight irony of his name; while frank in terms of outspoken, Frank is (and will most likely always be) a compulsive liar. And though it’s easy to hate on him for his cunning and selfish persona, it’s simply impossible not to fall for his goofy grin and childish charm. This season, the complexity of Frank is enriched by his failing liver and his quest to find a new one. The first episode of season 4, we find Frank laying unconscious in an abandoned building, having used unconventional means to consume alcohol. He’s taken to the Gallagher’s house, where Carl and Sheila have the unfortunate, yet hilarious, task of bathing him. As he becomes increasingly aware of his dying liver, it becomes increasingly difficult not to feel sorry for the guy.

One the other hand, it’s easy to understand Fiona’s unwillingness to help her father, knowing his reputation for backstabbing and betraying of his own family. You don’t need to venture far into season 4 of “Shameless” to witness Frank up to his old tricks again, using his 12-year-old son to supply him with drugs and befriending long-lost family members in order to find a viable liver. Ultimately, Frank’s illness is further proof of how “Shameless” isn’t afraid to shamelessly reveal the flaws of its characters, despite the fact that this may lead people to feel conflicted about them.

Episode 401

Overall

Season 4 of “Shameless” is off to a slow start. That being sad, in true “Shameless” fashion, the show continues to push the envelope with shocking scenes and intricate plotlines that make you question what should be (or what shouldn’t be) shown on television. There’s a very distinct level of authenticity on “Shameless” that I’ve never witnessed on any other show before. Rather than glamorizing aspects of sex and the structures of family, the show gives a blunt and refreshing description of how things in life can be very, very complicated. In conclusion, I would recommend watching season 4 of “Shameless”. Perhaps my familiarity with the show is making me overly optimistic, but I’m anticipating great things to come.

Rating: 7.5/10

Shameless-season-4-cast-photo

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About Meredith Pow

Meredith is a student at Western University, currently working towards a BA Honours Specialization in Media, Information & Technoculture. She has a passion for photography and videography, a love for television, and an obsession with reading about popular culture.

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