Seven years after its debut, Showtime’s critically-acclaimed Shameless returns for a ninth season. With the August announcement of Emmy Rossum’s upcoming departure from the show, all eyes are on Fiona as she navigates through her relationship with her newest romantic interest, Irish carpenter Ford (Richard Flood).
Season nine’s first episode, “Are You There, Shim? It’s Me, Ian,” maintains the series’ signature comedic style and high-level family dysfunction while also providing a stark contrast to the show’s first season. The plot’s original focal point, the family’s dependence on Fiona, is ostensibly a thing of the past as Debbie continues working, Frank steals from Liam’s friend’s wealthy parents, and Carl funds his military education through his own means.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is Frank’s transient lifestyle as the episode begins with him lying in a pool of his own vomit. His story-line, sleeping with every woman on the PTA, reaches a climax in this episode at the discovery that everyone that he’s slept with is riddled with STDs. Peak hilarity is reached when all of the PTA members admit to having multiple affairs, not just with Frank.
Simultaneously, conflict arises between Ford and Fiona over potentially bailing Ian out of prison. Ford expresses concerns over whether newly-religious Ian’s devotion to the “Church of Gay Jesus” will affect him showing up for his court date. Fiona’s willingness to jeopardize her financial security over Ian is sure to be a major plot line for the beginning of the season. Regardless, Ian denies Fiona’s bail money and dismisses her when she asks if he’s taking his medication, eerily foreshadowing a continuation of Ian’s manic behavior for the whole season.
Lip, in his stint in fatherhood, takes Xan to Brad’s wedding and has (sober) sex with the maid of honor, Tami, wherein she vomits on Lip halfway through. Upon asking her for a date a few days later, Tami turns him down and tells him he’s the worst lay she’s ever had, a hilarious change of tone for the show’s token stud. Even more bizarre than Lip being turned down, Debbie shows up to work in a diaper to protest against her misogynistic boss and earns herself equal pay.
Carl, in a continuation of his newfound discipline, seems to be thriving in military school. However, this is quickly soiled via the murder of Kassidi by one of his cadets, freeing him from his obligation to her, but potentially causing a plethora of problems for episodes to come.
All in all, Shameless’ season nine premiere maintains the show’s formulaic hilarity and absurdity in the now fragmented Gallagher family. Unfortunately, the show seems poised to continue to butcher Ian’s original early season character in order to continue displaying his hereditary mental illness inherited by Monica that came to light in season four. Despite that, as the de-facto main character, Fiona’s storyline is bound to be interesting as Emmy Rossum’s career on the show comes to a close.