Maybe it’s just because I too am going through my own semi-existential crisis, but I related to Fiona’s new tattoo and blue hairstreak on the deepest level of my soul.
Aside from my own downward spiral though, lets talk about the Gallagher’s and their eternal struggle.
The season seven Shameless opener was exactly what I wanted it to be because it wasn’t too much. In sharp contrast to the past two season premieres, there was no insane plot twist or grand problem that immediately presented itself as the, for lack of a better word, ‘big bad’ of the season. Instead, this time around, Shameless did something that I have been begging and pleading and hoping for since season four—
They let their characters live.
The Gallagher siblings are interesting enough to watch as is, that Shameless is at its best when we simply get to watch their lives unfold around them. The additive plots that are put their solely to amp up the stakes ironically fall flat in comparison to the emotional provocativeness we already get on our screens from them simply just existing.
Now I don’t want my first review of the season to seem flat, but all I can really think about is how excited I was about the small moments in ‘Hiraeth’.
Immediately, I want to talk about Lip.
Lip Gallagher is a character that continues to smash in and out of my heart with little to no notice.
Sometimes I empathize with him too much, and sometimes I want to smash his pinky finger in a car door.
This episode had me, however, navigating my way towards his season arc through a minefield of feels.
See, the underwater opening, aside from being absolutely stunning, was also a freakishly brilliant homage to the series so far.
Yes, a lot of the scenes were specific to last seasons’ plotlines, but more so, it was a thru line of where the Gallaghers started to where they have ended up.
The eerily mirror image of Lip was one that stood out stark amongst the rest.
Having both Frank and Lip in a tux, reaching for alcohol underwater made my masochistic little heart skip a beat because I am HERE for this like father like son hard slap in the face.
Since season one, Lip has been the functioning alcoholic that’s bound to stop functioning. I’m really glad that he actually went to rehab instead of starting the season having skipped out before the 30 day mark.
Something about watching him walk around carrying those AA chips and performing a sobriety test on himself, hit me extra hard. It was as if drinking had become one of the main factors to his personality that without it, he realized he was actually much younger and must more lost than we as an audience and even he himself have been led to believe.
But the parallels to Frank are clear and astounding. It’s different than that of Monica and Ian because it’s the idea of nature versus nurture. Ian obviously had no say in his bipolar, but Lip’s own choices have played a part into how he is where he is..
It will be especially interesting to watch Lip struggle in contrast to Ian having made his own choice to not let his life be run by the hand he was dealt.
Except make no mistake whatsoever, alcoholism is a disease because addiction is a disease. If you’ve never struggled with one before, I hope you never do because it is 1,000 times easier said than done to stop, even when everyone and everything is telling you to.
“Do you need us to hide the beer and stuff?”
As for Ian, my main point of excitement was watching him interact with his siblings again.
It made all the difference to me that he asked Lip to go stalk Caleb with him, instead of just going alone. Literally from the emotional take-a-way of the audience, this little detail has already layered any and all future Ian and Caleb drama.
Had Ian gone alone and caught him cheating, the scene would have almost seemed overly intense.
Because yea, Ian and Caleb are dating and yea—the Shameless timeline of how much time has actually passed can get wonky, but I still don’t consider them an ultra serious couple, so I don’t care at all if they break up.
And this has nothing to do with any possible Ian and Mickey anything. It’s simply because I find Caleb boring, and we’ve not been able to emotionally connect to their storyline to the point of caring if it ends.
So the cheating wasn’t actually what held any real punch for me. It was the brotherly bonding in finding out it was happening that stole the scene.
I want more sibling time always and if this episode is any indicator of the rest of this season, I’m expecting to get some.
“It’s not, like, a big deal. You just gotta keep it clean.”
Carrying on with this same idea, Ian and Lip’s convo with Carl about not being circumcised was so well crafted because it was more so brotherly advice than a punch line.
It was obvious that Carl was upset about this and while yea, it’s kinda funny, also try and imagine that you’re the odd one out and how shitty that must feel.
I actually found the scene where he waited at the urinal in the bathroom weirdly upsetting because I just wanted him to not feel ostracized.
It’s kind of interesting though because Carl and Debbie are more or less right where they realistically should be in their lives right now. As the youngest Gallagher’s (aside from Liam who I am still waiting for monologues from) it makes sense for them to be somewhat awkward and naïve to certain life situations.
But it’s especially endearing because seasons 4-6 we really watched Carl and Debbie on their own most of the time. There was not as much help from Fiona, Lip and Ian on an emotional level because the three of them were so fucked up in their own lives.
And that’s not to say that anything should be blamed on them for being absent, but it created this weird sort of false maturity in Carl and Debbie’s lives.
Now that we’ve taken away their ‘don’t fuck with me’ attitudes that had to be extra hardened in order to survive, we’re left with a boy who is self conscious about his penis and a girl who is stuck with a baby to raise, and the revelation that her older sister may have been right all along.
In other words, while over the last two seasons they have seemed so much older and forced into self sufficiency, now that their older siblings are back, Carl and Debbie have an especially young air to them.
Because I believe that they’re tough, and I believe that they can take care of their own, but I’m not so sure I believe they understand the little things in between.
Oddly enough, I think those are the things that make the difference between playing grown up, and being one.
“I’m done with men.”
“No. Relationships in general.”
I’m crossing all fingers and toes that Fiona actually sticks by this motto this season.
She can have as many one night stands or little flings as she wants, but please keep her so single and out of anything that could deter her from this awesome, woman in charge, self-empowered kick we’re seeing her on.
Watching Fiona run the diner this episode made me so proud, I could have cried.
Slay bitch slay is all I can really even say about it.
She was so in charge and level headed that it was almost like the culmination of growth we’ve wanted to see from her since her tragic spiral in season 4 finally showed itself.
The best way I can describe it is that what has always been a hustle looks like it’s switching gears to a grind.
And speaking of grind, Kev, V and Svetlana are making it work in the best possible way.
Since the twins were born, we haven’t seen their household move as smoothly as we did in this episode.
Reiterating what I said earlier about Shameless just letting their characters live, I was happy to see the ‘problems’ come back to normal everyday life problems but, like, worse.
Financial burdens are what started this show out on a relatable level. The fact that that hasn’t gone away is both realistic, and an easy way to reset us back to the main foundation of the show.
The Alibi needs to make more money, Svetlana is a genius, and we saw Kevin with a pink elephant on his penis. I mean what more can you really ask for? It was all just enough to keep us entertained and connected with these characters without pulling out all the punches too early and having nowhere else to go.
And as for Frank, well fuck him.
William H. Macy continues to astound me in the way he acts like a raging asshole alcoholic, but as far as Frank is concerned as a character, I want him destroyed.
Break down the door Fiona, take back what’s yours and leave the trash in the alley.
I’m really hoping this episode was an accurate indicator for all that’s to come, because if it was, I’m happy to say it once again feels like the Shameless I know and love