Last week it was brought to my attention that I completely missed season 5 of Shameless US when it aired at the beginning of 2015. So I set about to watch it in the quickest manner possible. I’m about half way through, so not that quick really. In the meantime, I take you back to where the chaos first began with my season 1 review, published on AMH Entertainment via AMH Network many years ago…
Shameless (US) – Season 1
More often than not history dictates that television show remakes not only annoy audiences but also fail to replicate the success of their originators – think Top Gear Australia, AbFab (US) and Kath & Kim (US). Shameless (US) is one of the exceptions to the rule.
Created in 2009 by John Wells but airing in 2011, Shameless (US) is the remake of the United Kingdom show of the same name. Season 1 introduces audiences to the dysfunctional Gallagher family consisting of patriarch and alcoholic Frank (William H. Macy) and his children Fiona (Emmy Rossum), Phillip “Lip” (Jeremy Allen White), Ian (Cameron Monaghan), Debbie (Emma Kenney), Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) and Liam (Brennan Kane Johnson & Blake Alexander Johnson), and follows their daily lives.
The storyline of Shameless (US) remains relatively close to that of the original show which tends to work in its favour. Frank has left his family after commencing a relationship, of sorts, with Sheila Jackson (originally played by Allison Janney in the pilot episode, but later replaced by Joan Cusack). Sheila is an agoraphobic and germophobe. She receives maximum disability benefits due to her conditions. It is for this reason Frank becomes involved with her and a good indication of what Frank is capable of.
The use of veteran A-list actors Macy and Cusack offers a form of credibility to the show since the majority of the remainder of the cast, although experienced, are not known to any great extent beyond the United States. Thus for international viewers the freshness of the cast, and a good one at that, yields one of many reasons to watch.
Shameless (US) season 1 uses a different director for each episode. The realisation that some of those directors include David Nutter (The X-Files, The Mentalist), Mimi Leder (LA Law, Deep Impact) and Stephen Hopkins (Californication, 24) allows viewers to understand that they are in capable hands. The exceptional direction is further complimented by the sublime writing of veterans Alex Borstein (MADtv, Family Guy), Mike O’Malley (My Name Is Earl, Glee), Nancy Pimental (South Park, The Sweetest Thing) and Etan Frankel (Gossip Girl, Friday Night Lights). Audiences need not exert any effort watching Shameless (US) as this combination allows them to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Although adapted from the UK version, Shameless (US) is a far superior product. The 12 episodes of season 1 simply introduce audiences to the characters allowing them to become intrigued by their dysfunctional lives. The ensemble cast, and quite a large one, encourages the storylines to be rich and plentiful. We watch with disbelief at Frank as he does, well everything really. We quietly offer support for Fiona as tries to raise her 5 siblings on her own while attempting to live the life of a 21 year old and as Lip is recognised for his genius yet continues to abuse it. We discover Ian’s homosexuality before his family do and wonder if Debbie is truly a Gallagher given her good hearted nature. We hope that Carl does not turn out to be a serial killer given his penchant for killing stray animals and are equally as surprised as the Gallagher’s when Liam, an African American, is confirmed to be the child of 2 Caucasian parents.
While everybody will not be able to empathise or sympathise with everything that is occurring to the characters it is probably a good thing because the extreme nature of events in Shameless (US) season 1 will leave you thankful for your own, relatively simple life.