Oscar Wilde wrote, “The well-bred contradict other people, the wise contradict themselves.” I’m about to prove my wisdom by contradicting the hell out of myself. After season seven, episode seven, “You’ll Never Ever Get a Chicken in Your Whole Entire Life,” I wrote an article about Ian and Trevor titled, “Ian Gallagher and the Trevor Effect” and promptly got my ass handed to me by the masses. I published the article in November and though it’s practically April now, the spanking continues. As a writer, you can either choose to ignore comments on your work or digest and synthesize them. Being that my background is in Psychology and all of the feedback I received showed greater depth than my article did, it seemed a re-watch was in order.
Perhaps my article’s surface presentation was lead by nostalgia for days of yard parties, penis bongs, DMX actually being popular, and drunken sex shop perusing with friends. Maybe I was blinded by Elliot Fletcher’s perfect teeth. Either way, I digress. By the completion of season seven, I was less than impressed with the development of Trevor’s character and his perplexing relationship with Ian. After revisiting each of their episodes I find myself further disillusioned. The bottom (see what I did there? This is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of them and that is the problem) line is I have no idea what the hell they were supposed to be. While forgetting to develop Trevor’s character, the Shameless writers also forgot to DTR. Were they friends with benefits? Were they in a romantic relationship? Was I meant to grow invested?
Though it is commendable for television shows to bring to light challenges that people in the LGBTQ community face, Shameless created a representation issue when they debased a transgender character to the logistics of his sex life and anatomy jokes. There were glimmers of hope that there may be a commitment to developing greater depth in his characterization in Sheila Callaghan’s episodes, “I am a Storm” and “Ouroboros” but the rest of the writers did not get on board. That’s not to say there weren’t opportunities.
In episode 7×6 “The Defenestration of Frank” Ian lost a patient and went to Trevor’s apartment. Instead of showing the tenderness of an emotional connection, they realized they were both ‘tops’ and my emotion boner promptly became flaccid. This would have been a great moment for them to decide that they were better off as friends. I’m all for experimentation and broadening horizons, but Ian having preferences doesn’t make him transphobic. It would be unfair for either the writers or Trevor to paint him as such. I get that sex sells, but all this sex talk felt like a sell-out.
Further complicating Trevor’s characterization was the fact that he didn’t seem to care much about Ian. At first glance, Trevor’s brazen assertiveness rolled off my back, being that I’m a blunt, demanding ball-buster myself. The difference is, I never dated or married an Ian Gallagher. I was always with people who stood up to me and called me out on my shit.
As viewers of the show, we are aware that in his relationships with both Caleb and Trevor, Ian has shown difficulty displaying confidence in his decisions and conviction in his identity, thus making Trevor’s refusal to ‘just be friends’ with him feel really heartbreaking. It’s nice that Ian had the opportunity learn from new people in his life, but he should not be degraded to a pet project or a “twink” (Trevor’s words, not mine); he’s an ambitious, badass, South Side bruiser with his own opinions and proclivities. It’s not endearing to watch him be stifled into submission.
As viewers, we can’t assume what we didn’t see, so the fact that we never saw any meaningful conversations between Ian and Trevor would lead us to believe that they didn’t have any. Aside from sex, there was no intimacy developed on screen. Honestly, there were more moments to the contrary, like in “Ouroboros” when Trevor and Ian are engaged in their 0-1000mph identification fight and my girl Monica gets involved.
Ian is escalating about Monica’s absentee motherism and Trevor simply told him, “She apologized. Move on.” There shouldn’t be an expectation that Ian would have filled Trevor in on every nitty-gritty detail of his life, after all, they were newly “dating,” but as much education went into Ian becoming learned about the greater LGBTQ community there should have been some reciprocation of Trevor gaining knowledge about Ian’s mental illness and the subsequent challenges it has posed in his life and relationships.
Though I may re-watch again and need to add more in another couple of months, I believe that at this point, I have effectively contradicted my light and fluffy portrayal and went for the heart of the issues, thus becoming wise beyond my years (though still not a cougar. Remember, I checked).