After 96 episodes it’s hard to believe Showtime’s Shameless has ignored any potentially great storylines, but ignore them they have. Let’s be honest it was bound to happen. And to begin to speculate on why they chose not to go a certain route with one of the characters or a particular storyline would probably drive me to drink excessively. I like watching the Gallaghers adventures, I don’t want to live them or relive them as the case would be for some things. But that doesn’t mean we can’t commiserate over what could have been.
Frank Gallagher Doesn’t Die
I love Frank as much as the next person (yes, I’m well aware there are those who can’t stand him), but let’s face it after season four his whole “I’m a despicable, but sometimes lovable asshole” schtick had run its course. His antics are no longer funny and frankly, any usefulness he added to the story ended ages ago. Which is why they should have killed him off. If not at the end of season four than five at the latest. By keeping him alive for the fifth season and making his last moments on earth be ones of struggle to stay clean and failing would have emphasized even further that once a career alcoholic always a career alcoholic. Not to mention it would have put even more weight behind Lip’s burgeoning battle.
No Mrs. Sheila Jackson-Gallagher
I began watching Shameless for two reasons: 1) I had seen the original and being a fan of John Wells I wanted to see what he could do with it. 2) Joan Cusack and William H. Macy. That’s it. Only those two reasons. If those three people hadn’t been involved I would have skipped it saying I’d watch it eventually but knowing full well I never would. I’ve been a fan of Joan Cusack’s every since I saw her in Sixteen Candles so being able to watch her be shameless for twelve episodes a year seemed pretty great to me. Hell, I was probably one of the few people who was genuinely upset when her sitcom What About Joan was canceled. And come on, Bill Macy is an underrated acting genius. The things these two could and often did pull off during Joan’s time on the show will go down as some of the show’s best comedic moments. So why send Sheila off to find Burning Man and join up with Karen, Jody, and Hymie when she could have stuck around to make magic happen as Frank’s not legally wed, wife?
Veronica Fisher and the Case of Disappearing Post Partum Depression
When Veronica learned she was pregnant in the fourth season premiere I was looking forward to seeing where this storyline would take her, Kevin, her mother, and the child Kevin already had on the way. As creeped out as I might have been over the gruesome threesome I was unable to deny that what had led up to that moment and what came after was some of the strongest stuff given to Kevin & Veronica since the series began. Not to mention it really solidified that the characters could exist in a world that wasn’t directly related to the Gallaghers and still remain relevant. It’s no secret that this show has a hard time maintaining the onscreen importance of any character whose last name isn’t Gallagher.
So I was pretty pumped when it appeared that the show had decided to continue on this path by exploring how a woman in Veronica’s situation dealt with Post Partum Depression. How would they choose to “shameless it up” so to speak? But instead, the notion she suffered from PPD was never mentioned or even alluded to besides the fact all the signs were right there. Instead, they made Veronica’s story all about how she’s upset that her husband paid more attention to the babies than her. Not that women don’t feel irrationally jealous over something like that because they do. Someone who may have never felt that way might not understand it but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. This chapter of the story could have been so much more and instead, it was a huge let down that has only been compounded by bringing Svetlana into the mix.
The Ole “Lip Dumps Amanda For His Professor” Cliche
It has been quite obvious from the beginning Lip Gallagher has some extreme mommy issues. Which is completely understandable considering Monica Gallagher managed to fuck over each of her children pretty spectacularly. It would be impressive if it wasn’t all so incredibly sad. If he wasn’t dating some version of her (Karen), he was trying to rescue some version of her (Mandy). When it came to Amanda one could imagine that at one point in time Monica was probably a lot like her. Not to mention she exhibited all the positive qualities of Karen and Mandy without all the issues. At least, not that we know of considering we never really had the chance to get to know Amanda all that well. By the middle of season five Lip & Amanda had settled into a comfortable relationship that worked for them and it appeared that maybe, just maybe Lip had found someone he was truly compatible with.
That was until they brought in Professor Helene Runyon with all her older, more experienced sexual knowledge. It was as if we stepped into a 1980s Skinamax movie where the teacher has a torrid affair with her student and she teaches him all about love, sex, and life. You know, now that I think about it, I could be convinced they ripped off the 80s movie My Tutor and then gave it the Shameless treatment. The biggest problem I had with this story is that nothing that happened with Helene and the consequences that came with the affair couldn’t have been accomplished by keeping him with Amanda.
Not to mention they completely threw Amanda under the bus by turning her into a cliche as well. In a few episodes, we were expected to believe she had gone from being completely okay with their having an open relationship (one she benefited from and took part of as well) to desperately falling in love with Lip to the point where she became physically violent and vengeful. I don’t think so. Not Amanda. The Amanda we met in season four would have figured out a way to make Lip sleeping with Helene to their mutual advantage. Now that would have been something I would have liked to have seen.
Debbie Gallagher Learns Nothing
I’ve always found it a tad odd that out of all the Gallaghers Debbie is the one most referred to as the one with the biggest heart. Perhaps it’s because for the first three seasons she was the closest example of precociousness the show had to offer so it was easy to look past the fact that she’s actually the most ruthless of them all. All that changed though in season five when she deliberately and borderline maliciously made the decision to get pregnant on purpose at the age of fifteen.
Unlike some fans, I wasn’t against this particular direction because whether we wanted to see it or not Debbie had, in fact, been on this very course since the beginning of the show. Only back then it was easier to dismiss her behavior rather than see it as a sign of things to come. We wanted so badly to believe that Debbie would beat the odds when so many others had been unable to and while it was sad that she had willingly chosen to make her life harder it would be interesting to see how the writers put their spin on what it meant to be a poor, single teenage mother living on the South Side of Chicago.
Instead what we got was Debbie continuing to be a bitch to Fiona and frankly anyone else who dared to remind her that she now had to grow up, passing Frannie on to anyone who would take her, at times being neglectful, and taking advantage of a guy because she couldn’t afford to take care of Frannie without him and she refused to follow Fiona’s rules. The show basically treated Debbie getting pregnant like it was some joke. Not that there isn’t humor to be found in Debbie’s situation because there is, loads of it, but what they’re doing now isn’t humorous, it’s low brow and beneath their writing talents. And frankly, it’s beneath Emma Kenney’s talents as well.
Here’s hoping in season eight they don’t let any potentially great storylines pass them by in favor of cheap and ultimately pointless story telling.