S1:E1 Rounding up Showtime’s Sunday night lineup is Shameless, starring William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher, a drunk father with enough stubble to clothe a recently sheared sheep, who’s completely incapable of caring for his six kids. He spends his disability checks on drinks at the local bar and likes to fall asleep asleep on the floor with a box of Cheese-Its under his head. This means his oldest daughter Fiona, played by Emmy Rossum, has the responsibility of caring for her siblings by getting them to school on time and making sure they all have jobs by the time they’re 9 years old.
This was only the pilot episode, so I’m going to refrain from dwelling too much on the times when the writing seemed like screenwriter writing as opposed to actual character dialog. I’m going to try and postpone talking about the times when William H. Macy is obviously acting, instead of really becoming the man who’s such a drunk that he doesn’t wake up when his daughter kicks him in the ribs. However I’m not going to postpone saying this episode seemed totally disjointed: it was hard to be told of how horribly Frank’s alcoholism (which isn’t acted very well at all) has affected the family, and then be asked to the capacity to laugh when Lip (Jeremy Allen White) tells the girl he tutors in physics that he still has to charge her for the session, even if she does give him a blow job. Viewers were pulled in two very different directions in the first episode — they were asked to forget the father’s lifestyle because of how tightly knit it has made the siblings, and it was bold of producers Paul Abbot and John Wells to do this. Even though Abbot says he set out to create a show full of characters who’s sofa we’d want to hang out on, I’m not sure it’s hardly even a house we’d want to live next door to. But let’s go through the episode’s high points anyway.
“It’s not a case of whether or not I agree, it’s a fact. If I were a single parent and i had tits, they would double the money. If you’re a guy, they don’t want to fucking hear it.” – Frank
When Frank drinks with his kids, he spends his time defending the reasons why he’s become an alcoholic. One of the main excuses he keeps coming back to is that his wife died and left him with six children to take care of, which is extremely stressful and too much responsibility for him. He makes his beliefs clear by just shunning his duties altogether and by rolling joints with his kids. He also frequently pontificates about how unfair it is that he doesn’t receive more benefits (even though he spends all $700 of his disability checks on booze) so he can better support his family, and believes his checks aren’t for more money is because he isn’t a woman.
So, we’ll see. I expected a lot more from Macy and for the first episode to have a lot more concrete direction. My instinct says the show could be very compelling, but judging by what we all saw last night, it might take a little bit more time to get there.