Thursday, January 6, 2011

Preview - Shameless

Showtime decided that they wanted to pimp Fish & Spaghetti for some free promotion about their new show Shameless which premieres January 9th.  Normally we here at F&S try to be above reproach when reviewing anything.

That said, given the harsh economic climate, we are completely open for business and bribery.  And since Showtime was throwing in free popcorn and soda, it was a done deal.  

Based on a British show, Shameless revolves around the Gallagher clan of Chicago.  Widower Frank is a drunk, leaving his six kids, lead by eldest sibling Fiona, pull together and fend for themselves.

As with any good pilot we learn everything we need to know about the characters before the credits roll.  Frank is a horrible father who loves his kids almost as much as they love him.  Fiona, the glue that holds the family together, is self-conscious about her situation and feels under appreciated.

We also learn about the rest of the siblings; eldest son Philip (Lip) is a mischievous bad boy who would do anything for his family while next eldest Ian is the sensitive, responsible and hiding a secret.  Rounding out the Gallagher fam are Debbie (loving daughter), Carl (maladjusted) and Liam (mulatto toddler from dead wife's indiscretion.)

In addition we meet Kev and Veronica the outrageous next door neighbors, Shelia the neighborhood mother who can't function without a man in her life and Steve, Fiona's prince charming with a secret.

And of course this being a premium cable show, the envelop gets pushed.  There's full frontal, sex involving strap-ons, drug use, kids drinking and smoking and just regular knocking it out on the dirty kitchen floor.  And some of that happens before Frank even finishes his opening monologue.

The writing is pretty strong, but since it's based on the British pilot most of the heavy lifting was done across the pond.  Still, the actors, William H. Macy in particular, are given some nice lines to wrap their lips around.  And as with most shows on Showtime that aren't historical dramas, Shameless balances the fine line between comedy and drama.

The show is really well cast.  In terms of the acting Emmy Rossum's Fiona carries the episode, with Jeremy Allen White's Lip and Cameron Monaghan's Ian also doing some heavy lifting.  In fact Macy's maybe in 25% of the show, though he does steal half of those scenes.

All in all Shameless features well developed characters and story lines with enough inspiration to keep them from being trite.  If you've got Showtime, it's certainly worth watching.

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