SPOILER ALERT: Code Yellow, the following article may spoil events from Season One of Shameless
Last night, Showtime’s drunken hit Shameless staggered its way back on the air. The show, as always, hit with full force, amply equipped with the alcohol, sex, violence, comedy and dysfunction for which it has become known. The show continues to build its dialogue with a dark, dry humor at the base of its foundation, a humor that in all honesty is not for everybody. If you can stomach and find the humor in the charmingly dysfunctional family that always manages to band together and beat the odds, then the second season featuring the Gallagher family is certainly one to keep an eye on.
The entire cast of crazy characters return with the notable exception of Steve (Justin Chatwin), the eldest Gallagher’s, Fiona (Emmy Rossum), lost love interest from the first season. Commercials have made it no secret that Steve’s absence and possible return will become a plot point in Fiona’s life but if she is missing him now, she barely shows it in the season opener. Working at a bar we have never seen before, Fiona and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) now work as a waitress and a bartender respectively. Fiona has a new guy who she only seems interested in hooking-up with, an obvious rebound. Fiona is also neighbors with Tony, the cop who is in love with her. Beyond working night shifts and trying to create a love life, the Gallagher’s have also opened a daycare for neighborhood kids in their own house. Fiona is awake when the kids are dropped off and picked up but in between she sleeps. This leaves the kids in the oddly capable hands of young Debbie Gallagher (Emma Kenney), who the job is perfect for, and Carl Gallagher (Ethan Cutkosky) who plays with the kids.
The other two Gallagher children, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) and Ian (Cameron Monaghan), return with their own slough of problems. Ian’s boyfriend/hook-up/confused friend Mickey remains in jail while Ian still works at the Kash and Grab convenient store. Tension at work is high, ever since Kash’s wife (Kash and his wife own the store) caught Ian and Kash having an affair. Blackmailed to stay in the marriage, Kash is now living a lie with a pregnant wife. Lip returns as well, the charmingly brilliant teenager who always seems to be elbow deep in some elaborate plot. Out first glimpse of Lip is a bloody beating in which Lip takes every blow and deals out none. The fight ends up being a part of a fight night Lip himself hosted to make some cash. The episode continues to reveal that Lip is involved in a number of different money making schemes including selling pot to a college professor, making devices that track the locations of cop cars and an ice cream truck that sells much more than just ice cream. As always, the future holds a lot for Lip, be it advanced courses at a local college or more elaborate plans to make enough money to keep the Gallagher household running.
And then there was Frank. William H. Macy returns as the drunk, pathetic, shameless man, playing the role with such skill that you can practically smell the alcohol stench wafting from the television. Still living with the agoraphobic Sheila (Joan Cusack) and ignoring his family, Frank spends the episode five beers ahead of sobriety and a hair’s breadth away from trouble. Frank is clearly still happy to let his family fend for themselves while drinking away every penny he can get his hands on. In the past, Frank has proven over and over again that the show is truly named for him but in the second season opener, Frank hits an all time low. A drunken bet and the events that follow lead Frank to leave Liam (the youngest Gallagher) as collateral for ten thousand dollars instead of having his own toes cut off. Frank, as hilarious as he is despicable, promises a season of drunken ridiculousness that will rival his emotional and physical wake of destruction from Season One.
The show has the same tone, feel, characters and comedic atmosphere of the first season but there is one drastic change. The first season put the Gallagher’s in the middle of Chicago’s frigid winter. This season does the exact opposite, taking place in the midst of Chicago’s hot, humid summer. The weather does nothing to dampen the Gallagher spirit however and, as they often do, the episode ends with the kids banding together to get the family out of a tight spot. The show really isn’t about the shameless father; it is about how these amazing children can rely on one another to live and survive. This single episode promises a season that should rival if not surpass the first. I’ll give the episode as a whole an 8 out of 10 and though it is dark, dirty and twisted, I take no shame in saying I will be counting down the days until each new episode of Season 2 airs.