Shameless – Season Two
Showtime’s transatlantic import Shameless returned with its season two premiere, and with it, the Gallagher family and its alcoholic patriarch, Frank. These characters really are 'shameless'. It's summer time, and the Gallaghers all have their summer jobs. Fiona, the oldest and the one in charge, has no qualms getting her little sister, Debbie, to run a daycare out of their house while she crashes. She needs the sleep because she works nights as a cocktail waitress at a club, and parties afterwards with her new pseudo-boyfriend – the replacement of her ex, Steve. They get drunk, have sex in fields and stay out all night. Her brother, Lip, has his own ways of making money; he's formed a sort of fight club that he profits from when the guys he finds don't get pummeled to bloody pulps by the competition. This is when he's not selling weed to pre-teens.
Of course, Frank is the most shameless of them all, making a drunken bet with a member of a gang in a bar – a $10,000 bet. When Frank loses and isn't able to pay up, the gang finds him and end up taking his toddler, Liam, as collateral until he pays up. He does try to earn the money in time, pulling some disgusting and illegal stunts, including whoring himself out for gay sex in a seedy bar (though who would pay to get it on with Frank is beyond me.) His kids, led by Fiona, bail him out in the end, of course. William always pulls drunken, sketchy shenanigans and gets himself into terrible messes that his daughter Fiona has to save him from. Does she ever get tired of it? At the end of the episode, Fiona makes a return to running, something she used to be naturally talented at. She is finally doing something that is just for her, and it's powerful, or at least it's supposed to be.
Every member of the family lives just on this side of getting themselves killed. Are we supposed to laugh or be amused by that? Yeah, yeah, it's just a television show. But are we supposed to laugh at the white trash mess that this family is, and the horrific shenanigans that they pull? Are we supposed to laugh when Frank's toddler is shown being shown (temporarily), crying in a little cage? When Lip shows up beaten and bloodied because he had to step in when one of his guys didn't show for a fight?
When Debbie must take care of a bunch of children, and decide whether she should wake Fiona to tell her their father took their little brother “to the zoo,” yet who knows where he really took him? (He took him pandhandling to generate sympathy). This family struggles financially, especially without a father bringing in an income, but they don't have to resort to such seamy, dangerous, illegal behavior to get by. Yeah, it's a show. But it’s hard to feel right laughing at the dangerous, immoral misadventures of a family when it just seems like the show is just trying to demonstrate how 'shameless' each character on the show can be.