Under a Rock: Shameless and Proud
Where on Earth have I been for six years?
If, unlike me, you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the masterful hit series Shameless (U.S.) that aired its first episode in January of 2011. I won’t bore you too much with listing off all the actors, the seasons, every plot and subplot. What I will say, however, is that this series brings something out of me that I quite enjoy.
To sum up this series succinctly, it revolves around a low-class family on the south side of Chicago. The father, Frank Gallagher (played by William H. Macy), is an alcoholic who blows in and out of his six children’s lives. The mother of the kids is bipolar and has also skipped in and out of their lives at her convenience. The eldest sister, Fiona (Emmy Rossum), takes care of her younger siblings in such a way that you don’t pity her. In fact, I personally am envious at how she whirls around the house, sliding right into the kids’ schedules diligently. She does whatever it takes to scrape together money to provide them the basics. Over the span of their seven seasons (so far), the family goes through scams, personal and financial highs and lows, heartbreak and triumph—all the usual plots that entice viewers.
So why is this series different and why have I been binge watching it ravenously to catch up?
Growing up, I was middle-to-lower class—nowhere near where the Gallagher family lands, but I relate to the struggles they face financially with bills, college tuition, dead-end jobs, and making ends meet. I remember graduating high school with absolutely no friends. I went to a smaller high school with a graduating class of fifty-five students. Everybody knew my family and knew that we were poor (or what can be considered poor in the Midwest) so they didn’t want to lower their status by being associated with the likes of me. What I love about Shameless is that it can touch on these hardships with humor, with truth…it leaves me feeling proud of my history rather than self-pitying and ashamed.
I also really appreciate the show’s unabashed, or rather, Shameless, presentation of life. It does not dance around topics delicately: drugs, sex (tons and tons of such with full-blown nudity and dildos), relationships, dialogues revolving around current affairs…they go there, and they make you laugh and cry about it all. One episode dealt with death and illness that touched me deeply. I don’t wish to give away any spoilers, just to say that they didn’t make the notion romantic by any means. My grandfather recently passed, so I found myself sobbing on the couch, getting a much-needed cathartic release.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that many other viewers find solace in the chaotic, sweet, filthy, sometimes tragic, but always endearing show. The best part? You wish you were a Gallagher. They always have each other’s backs, and they seem so alive. Like their dedication to each other, to their family, and to their anti-gentrification community, I’m dedicated to Shameless.
Ashley Amigoni is a freelance editor, bibliophile, self-proclaimed poet, and proud mother of two girls, residing in Illinois. She went to Lincoln College and Illinois State University for publishing, traveled to places like Singapore and Florence, and then happily put her daughters to the forefront of her life. She now is finding herself again, freelance editing for a few years now at Escapist Freelance Editing. In her free time, when not taking her children on adventures, she can be found haunting independent bookstores for literature to add to her endless to-be-read-time.