Arts and Culture

‘Shameless’ Returns for its Ninth Season

Shameless season nine premiered this past Sunday night–a satisfyingly entertaining return to the lives of the Gallagher clan. Per usual, chaos ensues as Frank spreads STDs throughout his son’s PTA organization, Fiona struggles with trust issues between her new boyfriend (portrayed by Richard Flood), Lip deals with a newfound responsibility as a guardian to a young girl, Ian stews up conflict behind bars as a part of his “Gay Jesus” movement, and in the midst of all this is Liam, still doing his father’s dirty work.

As a huge fan of Shameless, I can say without hesitation that this was a perfectly enjoyable season premiere. I laughed fairly consistently and as always the acting was on-point. I suppose what makes me hesitate to call this episode great is the same issue that has plagued this show since the beginning of season three.

The first two seasons of Shameless are mind-boggling when it comes to storytelling, originality, and directing, which is quite reminiscent of strong cinematic prowess. When season three began, it felt like the show disregarded its individuality, and adjusted its script to fit into the plethora of generic dramatic television shows. Thereby downgrading Shameless from an excellent show, to simply a very good one.

This episode starts with Frank (William H. Macy) who by far had the greatest storyline in this episode. Last season, we saw Mr. Gallagher join the PTA at his son Liam’s school, only to end up sleeping with the moms involved. Frank starts a spread of STDs, which leads to some hilarious moments when the school mandates a quarantine of those infected.

Lip (Jeremy Allen White) also had an intriguing plot-line. His best friend from rehab is getting married, and so naturally, as mandated in Shameless, Lip hooks up with another woman at the wedding. He also has a newfound responsibility this season: caring for a young girl whose mother is no longer in the picture. His responsibility and fatherly qualities are exemplified when he shows unease at the girl flirting with an older boy.

Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is in jail after a terrorist-like stunt he committed last season. His storyline as a gay teenager in an urban environment were engrossing, but because he is no longer that shy redhead who is scared to show the world who he really is, his rise as an extremist for the gay community feels like a story stretched thin.

Fiona (Emmy Rossum) gave an excellent, emotional performance when her boyfriend Ford begins receiving phone calls from another woman. Guilty of snooping, Rossum (who will be leaving the series after this season) accentuates one of her finest qualities as an actress: the ability to show strong emotion.

Debbie (Emma Kenney) protests against her boss, after he squanders her paycheck for using the bathroom. Ranking on the boss–who demonstrates a blatantly sexist attitude towards Debbie–the youngest Gallagher girl seeks to protest. The results are quite funny.

Oh yeah, and of course there is Liam, the youngest Gallagher, who still has yet to truly captivate me with one of his storylines. His character has always served as placeholder–only to be used when absolutely necessary.

The episode is mostly propulsive, but lags during the jail-gang sequences started by brother Ian. The drama here was disturbing and felt unnecessary because this story line has been overused by the show.

One major plus to this episode was the return of the classic Shameless “shock-factor” which riddled the first few seasons. Each episode would take you by surprise, and without spoiling this one, just be on the lookout as Carl (Ethan Kutkosky) navigates a sticky situation with his “fiancé.”

Definitely superior to the underwhelming finale of season 8, “Are You There Shim? It’s Me, Ian” is entertaining, funny, but does slow down a bit too much as it contains sub-plots that feel worn down and derivative.


Final Grade: B+