One thing I always make sure to do over my winter breaks in college is to make sure that I catch up with my shows that I missed during the semester. Senior year fall semester, I missed basically ALL of them; Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Flash, Arrow, Blackish, Fresh Off the Boat, and the list goes on for Netflix shows as well. So the first time that I had a free day (no work, no errands, no family), I locked myself in my room and started my binge. Of course by the time I was ready to get back to school I had finished my binge and was ready to embrace upon a brand new show to watch in my spring semester. My Netflix list wasn’t really doing anything for me (I was already watching House of Cards but couldn’t watch it so often), so like everybody nowadays I looked to social media to see what shows people were binging… and in two days I’ve never come across the word “shameless” so often. Shameless it was then.
A poor white family that includes six kids and an alcoholic narcissist as a father being raised by the twenty year old daughter living in Southside Chicago. Dysfunctional is not even the word to describe what happens in this show. The very first episode held nothing back: it opens on a trashcan bonfire in the city being narrated by Frank, who is the father. He introduces each of his children in only a way Frank can, describing who they are in a few words and telling us their greatest qualities. From oldest to youngest is Fiona, Phillip (Lip), Ian, Debbie, Karl and baby Liam. Their neighbors Kevin and Veronica who are practically family is also introduced by Frank. Frank ends off his introductions by giving us a Gallagher family saying that always comes back around: “We know how to fucking party!”
The root definition of a family is:
1. a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.
2. all the descendants of a common ancestor.
But from watching this show, the Gallagher’s exhibit the metaphorical definition of family. That one doesn’t have to be blood to get the same benefits that a traditional family will give. As long as you take care of them, they’ll take care of you, and that’s the best possible way I could explain that right now.
The next scene is about the household, which Fiona takes care of while Frank is passed out elsewhere from drinking. Lip, Ian and Debbie all have a hustle to make money to help pay the bills which is crazy since Debbie is only around 10 yrs. old. But it shows that they are all capable of pulling their weight and really respects Fiona whose only 20 yrs old. As they go their separate ways (it’s winter and school is in session), we see more of who they are as characters. Lip (17) is actually a genius who tutors most of his high school and even takes SAT’s for seniors for money. Ian is gay and hasn’t told anyone until Lip finds a gay porno magazine in their room hidden behind a dresser. Fiona and Veronica, being the best friends that they are head out to a club and meet this guy Steve who crushes on Fiona and they eventually hook up. Debbie has to take baby Liam to school with her since no one can watch him. The list goes on and on with the sacrifices and extreme scenarios that happen in just this first episode, but what makes me love this show is that it’s not just about sex, drugs and teenage angst…
These characters are dynamic. They’re not stock characters. It’s a show about real people with problems that actually exist for the lower class. For me I can relate to a lot of the actions they take just to get food on the table or clean clothes, and the drama that comes along with it is what keeps it entertaining. I mean one of the characters has agoraphobia. How random and complex is that?
There’s no shame in their game.