Friday, November 15, 2013

Shameless promotion of “Shameless”

“Shameless” on Showtime is a guilty pleasure that I can’t stop watching. Objectively I can say nothing good about it, but it is addictive. We’ve been catching up by binge watching. We’re well into season three.

Everything about this show is overblown. They can’t go two minutes without someone using the F-word, plus somebody is effing in every other scene. Now I enjoy a good, healthy sex scene and provocative nudity as much as anybody, but it is way, way overdone in this show. Just about the only adult under 80 who doesn’t have a nude scene is Joan Cusak as Sheila, who shacks up with her sex-addict daughter’s sex-addict boyfriend (they met at sex addicts anonymous); and even though Cusak doesn’t do nudity she does sex scenes that are more implied than shown because what she likes to do to men can’t be shown even on cable TV.  

The show revolves around Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) and his brood of brilliant but crazy kids. The running joke that epitomizes his character is “That’s a new low even for you, Frank.” There is no limit to how low he will stoop to bilk people out of a few bucks. If he destroys everyone he loves in the process, so be it.

Here’s the premise: Frank’s mother (Louise Fletcher) is in prison for cooking meth and his alcoholic, drug-addicted, bipolar wife has abandoned the family to live with her lesbian lover, and Frank , who has never been sober for more than a few hours, repeatedly abandons his six children to fend for themselves, returning home only to scam or steal money from them. The oldest daughter, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) has raised her younger siblings with the help of the next-to-oldest, Lip (Jeremy Allen White), who is a high school student and an off-the-chart genius.

Fiona is in love with Steve (Justin Chatwin), a car thief, who is really Jimmy, the son of a wealthy doctor (Harry Hamlin) who is married and having an affair with Fiona and Lip’s gay brother, Ian (Cameron Monaghan).  Grandma gets out of prison and comes home to pamper her grandchildren, which involves getting the youngest to help her cook meth in the basement; Frank’s wife leaves her lesbian lover and comes home to reclaim her family; and Steve/Jimmy is secretly married to a Portuguese nymphomaniac whose father is a drug lord who murders his daughter’s lover in front of Jimmy/Steve and forces him to honor his marriage vows. Yes, it’s something of a soap opera.

There is nothing believable in this show. The hyperbole is off the charts and almost every scene offends good taste in one way or another. Yet, despite all that, the familial devotion is sweet and tender, and you can’t help loving these characters (well, except for  Frank, whom you will love to despise).

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