Shameless captivates audiences in seventh season


Shameless Season 7 actors (above): Jeremy Allen White, William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum

Daily life for the Gallagher’s includes pretty wild living in Chicago’s South Side. This eccentric family’s life receives little guidance from alcoholic father Frank. Oldest of eight Fiona’s (Emmy Rossum) leadership keeps the family running.
At first I was skeptical about another hard-knock, inner city saga laden with drug usage and mournful chronicles of relationships gone wrong, but I was quickly left surprised by the TV series. Despite the seemingly depressing premise, it packs the hilarity. After a mere few days, Shameless became an addiction.

They’re the cream of the crop as far as dysfunctional families go. There’s Frank the conniving drunk; Fiona the ringleader and accidental convict; Philip, the self-destructive heartthrob; Ian the gay bipolar firefighter; Debbie the 15- year-old with a daughter; Carl the former gun dealer at age 14; and Liam, the youngest yet already a corrupted Gallagher.

Aptly named, Shameless throws morals out the window. All seven children have a “pull yourself by the bootstraps” like grit to survive by any means possible and their heart that ensues is the family bond that makes Shameless worthwhile.

The standout star is the complicated protagonist Frank Gallagher (William Macy). He’s an already disheveled man who transforms himself into the grittiest character of the bunch. I know I should hate him for his scheming tendencies to nurse his several drug addictions, alcoholism and his utter disregard for his children. However, he is the character that will make tears stream down your face from laughing so hard. Macy also directed an episode in season five.

Another standout is Emmy Rossum as Fiona, who doubles as an actress and director. Her range as an actress is admirable. She can play the tough love mother and reckless 20- something in the span of 10 minutes.

Her performance ignites emotions within you, as I feel her pain when she has to deal with family antics like Frank winding up in the ER from another bender. Fiona is the glue of the family, but Rossum has added a whole new element that emerges in her body language that makes the viewer infer that maybe she wants more than that, especially in season 7. Maybe there is a future on the horizon for Fiona beyond household duties.

It was difficult to pick standouts, because every episode switches between each character’s life throughout the span of an episode, and every character delivers with relish. The performances are spectacular, but I am left wondering how realistic the casting is.

Shameless has only two major characters that aren’t white, a close family friend Veronica Fisher (Shanola Hampton) and the youngest Gallagher, Liam, who is of mixed race. According to, the percentage of black people to white on the South Side is about 50/50 which makes me question the authenticity of the characterization in the show.

Driving through Chicago’s South Side during Thanksgiving break, I looked out the window at the decaying bungalows and knew that the directors John Wells and Mark Mylod, nailed the setting of Shameless.

Humorous antics aside, Shameless made me reevaluate my circumstances and I’ve taken a more gracious attitude towards life in Marin simply from watching the show.

Shameless airs every Sunday at 8pm on Showtime.