Shameless: Season 1
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Shameless: The Complete First Season (BBC/DVD)
Meet the Gallaghers. Mum went AWOL years ago, Dad stayed at home with the six children only to hit the bottle ... and sometimes the kids... Blisteringly funny, offbeat drama following the rollercoaster lives and loves of an anarchic family from Manchester. The real head of the family is big sister Fiona, who looks after Carl, Debbie and baby Liam. She is occasionally helped, more often hindered, by streetwise 'Lip' and the actively gay, but very private, Ian. Welcome to the hectic world of sexual adventures, triumphs, love, scams and a fair bit of crime on a rough Manchester housing estate, where wheel-less cars are the norm and the moving ones are stolen.]]>
This "top (effen) notch" BBC series is set in a Manchester, England, public-housing project where the Gallagher clan gets by with a little help from their friends and each other. They certainly can't count on Frank (David Threfall), their on-the-dole dad, whose time around the house is mostly spent drunkenly passed out on the floor. Mom abandoned them years before. That leaves Fiona (Anne-Marie Duff), the eldest daughter, to be surrogate parent and help make the best of their hardscrabble lives in a place that, Frank observes, will never be mistaken for the Garden of Eden. The seven episodes that comprise the first series are a riot of family dysfunction. Cheeky oldest brother Lip (Jody Latham) discovers his younger sibling, Ian (Gerard Kearns), is gay and is having an affair with the local Muslin grocer. He enlists his girlfriend, Karen (Rebecca Atkinson), to initiate Ian (to no avail). Karen's agoraphobic mother, Sheila (Maggie O'Neill) is married to a religious fanatic, who abandons them after he discovers his daughter's sinful ways, opening the door for Frank to move in (and juggle clandestine affairs with both mother and daughter). Meanwhile, Fiona meets Steve (James McAvoy), a nice guy and prosperous car salesman (too bad the cars are stolen).
Lending the Gallaghers a hand is neighbor Veronica (Maxine Peake), fiercely loyal and protective and a ferocious force of nature. One of her sidelights is ironing topless for the benefit of horny Internet viewers. Frank says it best when he asks at one point, "Is anyone around here normal?" Written by Paul Abbott, Shameless has the same gritty setting and generous spirit as Mike Leigh's Life Is Sweet. Prodigious use of the F-word and some fleeting full-frontal nudity notwithstanding, Shameless, would feel at home on American basic cable. The optional subtitles are recommended to make better sense of the thick accents and slang. --Donald Liebenson
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Top customer reviews
Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) is a prototype deadbeat dad. No, he's more than that. If there were an award for "world's worst dad," Frank Gallagher would doubtlessly win. He has custody of his children (sort of) as his ex wife (Monica) is estranged. However, Frank Gallagher doing his familial duty is about as common as a Labrador singing Verdi opera. Frank is a drunk & puts more effort into trying to "game the system" of getting disability checks than he does into simply making an honest living.
Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is the catalyst of the show. She is by far the most likeable character & the one we empathize with the most. As the eldest daughter, she has taken it upon herself to take on the duties of being the surrogate mother of her younger siblings. She is often frustrated & overwhelmed with the tasks life has dealt her, but she still finds a way to face each & every day with her winning smile. Unlike her father, she works odd jobs & does her best to support the rest of her family.
Laura Slade Wiggins (Karen) delivers a command performance as the girl-next-door who is caught in the body of teenage girl with an overactive libido. Full confession: Laura Slade Wiggins has "got the goods." She is built like a cheerleader and she's the type of woman whom guys like me dream of taking to the mall. Her acting talents outstrip this role; I look forward to seeing more of her. For now, all I can say is....WOW!!!
Somewhat surprisingly, as raucous as this show is, it still finds a way to have some rather poignant, heart wrenching moments. While most of it is obnoxious humor, the fact that these moments exist in the series is profound. So, bottom line is, if you're looking for an off-the-wall adventure in Chicago, the Gallaghers would be elated to invite you over to their house. Be sure to accept the invitation! 8-)
The premise of the show is that the Gallagher family is struggling to make ends meet. Fiona—the oldest Gallagher and caretaker to her numerous siblings—is played by Emmy Rossum with applomb. William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher, the alcoholic who's more than willing to throw his family under the bus if it gets him another beer, is another standout; he personifies the character that you love to hate. Each of the other Gallagher children are compelling in their own ways, from Lip the prodigy to Ian with his secret same-sex trysts to Debbie as a Fiona-in-training, even Carl and Liam earn and deserve their screentime. Justin Chatwin's Steve/Jimmy is a nice balance to Fiona's neuroticism and isn't bad to look at either. My favorite character might be Sheila, the agoraphobia and unlikely girlfriend to Frank played by Joan Cusack. Of course, Kev and V—the mixed-race couple who lives next door to the Gallagher clan—are also very entertaining.
By now, the show has several seasons under its belt, but I maintain that the first season was the best. It gives you a great introduction to the characters, their personalities, and the atmosphere of the show. I've not seen the original UK version of the show, but the US version has to at least give it a run for its money. If you like comedy and drama, like the idea of watching underdogs trying to rise above, and appreciate great acting and writing, then Shameless is for you. At the very least, you'll be entertained and feel proud of your own life and accomplishments.