Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of Shameless. Catch up on previous coverage here.
There’s a lot to digest in the season six premiere of Shameless which returned tonight on Showtime. I spent a lot of season five talking about how things could be better and how, while the show hadn’t become bad, it had certainly fallen from the pedestal I’d placed it on when I deemed it the best show on television that no one is watching. Fiona got too caught up in her dating life, Lip’s storylines seemed tailor made for the show’s want to objectify naked women and Debbie went from the low key most consistent part of the show to one of the worst. When Frank’s season long narrative is the most compelling, you know there is something off.
The show is largely fractured for the first episode back this year and while it’s not a complete fix of the missteps in season five, it’s at the very least a very tentative start.
I like Sean and I think he and Fiona make a well matched team. Fiona hasn’t been with a male character since Jimmy from the first season, but I still think Emmy Rossum deserves a narrative that isn’t completely about who she’s dating and how it screws with her life.
Luckily for me and I’m sure plenty of other fans, we start to get hints of this in the episode, either from her trying to be a more active presence in her siblings’ lives or taking up Sean’s management offer at the restaurant — a move that puts her future back on track. It’s nothing monumental yet, and she still has Debbie to deal with after the big cliff hanger ending, but it looks like for once in a long while that Fiona’s future is looking up.
However, at this point Rossum could do just about anything with the character and I’d still find her one of the most electrifying screen presences currently on air.
I can’t say I was the happiest fan when I learned of Mickey’s fate for the season (and for what looks like potentially the series). He’s been convicted for attempted murder of Sammi from last year and is looking at 15 years in prison but wagers that he’ll be out in eight. He’s heartsick when Ian visits to essentially cut ties and it’s simply a very devastating way to end the character. I can’t say I’m concerned about the Mickey/Ian relationship bits because frankly, Mickey has always been the character I’ve been invested in in that pairing. It seems however after five seasons of excellent character development for Mickey and some truly beautiful work from Noel Fisher in bringing him to life, that this is a massive waste of big talent. The only acceptable reasoning is that maybe Fisher is leaving the show to pursue other roles, otherwise, if this was simply a plot contrivance to give Ian storylines away from Mickey, it was an assured mistake.
Otherwise, Ian was fine in the episode although still low on the totem pole in terms of which Gallagher I care about the most (only barely beating Carl). He works as a character on the periphery, giving snide remarks to Fiona’s mothering and keeping an eye out on Carl and Debbie. I’m not sure I’m totally engaged in what’s going to happen to him this season and his main point of interest is apparently locked up behind bars for the foreseeable future.
Unless Shameless decides to go Prison Break.
After a season where Frank was shockingly the most interesting character, he falls back into his more obnoxious ways in the season six opener. Grieving the loss of Bianca, he spends the episode parading his mourning from one spot to the next. While I’ve always enjoyed Frank more in this style of comedy that is more silly than offensive, his segments take up too much of the episode and run too long each time he shows up with some of the most dubious film choices following him, particularly the spiritual montage that errs on the side of slapstick.
Oh, Lip. While I think his professor is an enjoyable character and believe in the two’s chemistry, like Fiona I believe that Lip deserves a storyline that isn’t about his love life. Lip is a largely fascinating character and I’ve always enjoyed how he and Fiona’s storylines have run parallel with one another, which is again highlighted in this episode. Both are feeling comfort in their relationships and both are aspiring for something they didn’t know they wanted, and in Lip’s case it’s a potential career in teaching.
Mind you, the sequence where as a teaching assistant he lectures an entire class is far from feasible to the point of having to suspend my disbelief, it was also a nice reminder that Lip is a near genius. His storyline always flirts with the “rags to riches” trope and it’s something that would play well with that Fiona and Lip dynamic where we can see just how they would have turned out if their roles had been switched.
That’s the Lip I’m fascinated with and the one I think Jeremy Allen White plays so well. Him beating the shit out of his professor’s son is fun to watch and shows us the Lip we’re used to, but I’m more excited about the character he has the potential to be.
As has become the trend with these two, the show doesn’t quite know what to make of their characters now that they’re teens. Debbie being pregnant isn’t a fun storyline even if she’s written with perfect accuracy of how stubborn teenagers are, and Carl’s is just a sentence away from being offensive, so I’m tentative about both.
It’s not a great episode but it does feel as if the show is trying to clean themselves up a bit even if they rely too easily on their shocking (borderline offensive) humor to get by.
However, I’m so attached to the characters that I’m simply happy enough for them to be back on my screen each week. Minus a major exception (weeps for Mickey).