When you think about a house, you often think that the living room is the place where a family might share momentous life occasions.
It’s probably one of the biggest rooms, centralized in the floor plan, and likely the place where the most people can interact at once.
I disagree with this.
Since as long as I can remember watching film of any kind, be it television or movies, it has always been the idea of a kitchen table that attempts to bring a family together.
Now the Gallagher kitchen has seen some shit, there’s no denying that. Most other kitchens probably gossip about theirs. The whole idea of if walls could talk takes on a whole new meaning.
But what’s really interesting to me about the Gallagher kitchen, what makes it stand out above the rest, is that it runs the gambit of the extremes between life and death. The entire structure of what happens in this kitchen revolves around mirroring the cyclical nature of the past and present, and the two polarized examples of what life brings to this family in particular.
Each sibling, and even parent—has had a standout moment in this goddamn fucking kitchen. In fact, if I go back and think about some of my favorite scenes in general, I think about Monica slitting her wrists. I think about Fiona picking up the pieces once again after the squirrel fund was spent on drugs, and of the group attempt to get rid of cousin Patrick.
And favorite might be a weird word to say because let’s be real, most of these scenes are sad, but still they evoke emotion, and that’s all I can really ask for in any type of art. That’s what makes certain scenes stand out amongst the rest.
Debbie’s giving birth on the table was something that brought this cyclical importance of the kitchen full circle for me, life versus death on the same linoleum floor. It took me back to the extreme contrast of Monica bleeding out and heading towards the end direction on the scale of life as little Frannie was just making her way to the beginning.
You know, people always try and comfort others by putting the grand scale of the world into perspective with saying things like for every death there are x amounts of births. It’s not until you can measure this in your own life, in the same damn room, that it really holds weight.
But aside from this contrast, what I love most is the thru line of resilience and resistance that runs continuously throughout anyone who steps foot inside.
Take Ian for example—
A standout scene for him not only in this kitchen, but in his life, is the struggle and realization of being medicated. But it wasn’t just his own personally bold move of dumping out all his pills on the counter that puts his emotional value inside the kitchen; it was all the moments throughout both seasons 4 and 5 that enabled the rest of his family to realize something was very wrong.
“Hey, going for a run. Wanna join?”
Lingering on Ian specifically, I will say that as a character who has more often than not skipped out on the ‘family’ scenes in later seasons, I am especially inclined to notice that when we do bring him back in, it’s often in the kitchen.
I know that the last episode showed him return for a Gallagher bash in the living room, but hey, we need variety every now and then.
However, I will say that it was this exact reason why I was a little disappointed that Ian was not present for Debbie giving birth. Aside from the fact that it would have added a whole new layer of him being able to help because of his EMT training, it was such a major family gathering scene that I was sad to see him miss it.
And I’m not saying that the big moments for this family only ever happen in the kitchen, not at all, but maybe some of their biggest lessons.
This is the same place that Liam overdosed. That Fiona had to come to terms with the fact that she fucked up even if it was a mistake. We’ve seen Carl learn the importance of not trying to kill someone with rat poison. And let’s not forget the beautiful contrast of Fiona announcing she would be her siblings legal guardians in the same room she would also, seasons later, tell Debbie she would no longer support her if she had a baby.
However, it’s not just the Gallagher’s who end up here.
The irony of Mickey getting a bullet removed in the same place that Frank would eventually get shot in once again shows the two ends to an event affecting different people. The fact that Sammi was the one who shot Frank and would ultimately try and shoot Mickey just makes me giggle. Ok so nothing about Sammi and Mickey really makes me giggle, considering, but still. I have a love for finding the connections we create as human beings with others along the way.
“Gallaghers don’t do announcements at dinner. We do blackouts, suicide attempts, but never announcements.”
So what’s my point to this? That the Gallagher kitchen is one of wonders really.
It’s the one place consistently shown to give you the best things that life can offer, and some of the worst. Fuck the living room. The true moments of equal measure in characters revolve around that kitchen table.
Because, let’s face it, the Gallagher’s aren’t the most welcoming family. But if you’re in their kitchen, if you’re all somehow sitting down and eating as a group, it’s your best opportunity to be heard, or at least to be a part of the history that will no doubt repeat in some way or another.
If you’re in the Gallagher kitchen, anything goes.