Shameless 2.01 “Summertime” Season Premiere Review

Shameless 2.01 “Summertime” Season Premiere Review

Shameless - SummertimeShameless season 2 squeaks by with its first entry with this week’s “Summertime” as the Gallagher clan struggles to make ends meet in a sweltering summer, and Frank (William H. Macy) involves young Liam in a dangerous scheme that spirals out of control. While not quite a perfect entry into the scrutinized series, “Summertime” does an excellent job of bringing us back into the world of the Gallaghers, depravity and all.

I’m a little bit in love with the way Shameless second season shifted into a summertime perspective, and the rather drastic change it’s brought to the overall tone of the show. Not only does the temperature enable for far more outside shooting, but provides a welcome shake-up for the feel of the series without having to change very much.

It also makes sense for a first season to highlight the difficulties of the Gallagher’s poverty through the winter months, and with a second season create new challenges in warmth. Too few series evolve from season to season, and I’m thrilled with the effect such a simple change can have, particularly when it also manages to put Emmy Rossum in skimpy attire that much more.

I never made much of Showtime’s Shameless adaptation during its initial first season run, more dismissing it as ‘that windy William H. Macy show I keep seeing in the subway. When the second season came upon us I took the time to watch the first for myself, and take in the general critical consensus of the series, most of which talked about how the show alternatively did and didn’t adhere too closely to its UK counterpart, and that the US version alternated between the Gallagher children’s very real drama, and the comic exaggeration of William H. Macy’s Frank.

Having never seen the UK series (my ignorance of it going so far as to not know it made James McAvoy famous), I didn’t care to know one way or another how it compared with the American re-make, but I could understand the criticism of how William H. Macy’s Frank detracted from the rest of the series. Shameless season 2 picks up with largely the same balance, but presented in a way that stir’s Frank’s moral ambiguity enough to warrant at least some further consideration.

Frank is a force of nature that rips through the lives of his children, coming and going as he pleases for whatever end best befits him on that particular day, in this case borrowing young Liam to make some quick cash for a poorly thought-out bet, and ending up with his own son held hostage by overzealous gangsters. About the time the entire Gallagher clan bands together to both find Frank and retrieve Liam one has to wonder why anyone even marginally tolerates this patriarch (enough to welcome him into Kevin’s post-credits pot bonfire), but the point of Shameless has always been to highlight what makes abnormal family dynamics work best.

Shameless - SummertimeAll we’ll ever need to know about Frank lies in his bar-side ranting of Eddie Jackson’s disappearance, shamelessly counting himself among the Jacksons Eddie ‘left’to fend for themselves while conveniently ignoring a family twice that size to which he’d done the same. At least with ‘Summertime’we’re presented with several deeper moments to the character, as we glimpse both the heartbreak and awful depths to which Frank would sink for some quick cash. It all seems a bit superfluous to think that the overzealous ganster would take Frank’s $10,000 bet so seriously as to the point of kidnapping, and still demand his money from the family desperate to retrieve their young brother, but I’m confident season 2 can find more humanizing moments for Frank that justify his role in the series a bit more.

As much as we focus on Frank, Shameless belongs more to Emmy Rossum’s Fiona, who here too sets out reclaiming a bit of her own with her place at the head of the Gallagher household now secure and Steve (Justin Chatwin) a distant memory on some Costa Rican beach. Indeed Steve receives very little mention as Fiona navigates new romances whilst keeping the family in order and taking enough time for herself to relive her high school track years.

Shameless occasionally leaves us to question Fiona’s moral fiber as well, casually leaving a house full of children under the watch of her young sister or nights spent on beach-side orgies while her young waits at home, but given all the character sacrifices for the Gallaghers, her behavior rests in the comfortable ambiguity that Shameless paints so well. I never grow tired of the Gallaghers’manic indifference to all things perverse, be they a young child left to care for a dozen others while the adults sleep, or a collegiate professor casually brushing off Lip’s jury-rigged police scanner while buying a giant weed plant.

‘Summertime’also makes a fine entry point for those just tuning into the series, doing an amicable job of casually refreshing the show’s basic plot dynamics while re-introducing accessible continuity, and painting a portrait of what’s to come as the season continues. There’s even a basic symmetry to the first and second season openers, particularly between Lip and Ian, the former once again stumbling upon hidden materials that drive a season-long bonding dynamic for the brothers. I won’t say that everything about Shameless return clicks together so perfectly, but when the perverse hilarity of the Gallagher clan reaches its most lightheartedly entertaining, few could bemoan the return of TV’s most shamelessly depraved family.

And Another Thing…

  • I presume that someone will discover Eddie’s true fate before the season ends, it seems even too cruel for such an unlikeable character to be reduced to a forgotten ‘Missing’poster.
  • I want to go to the TV / Movie volume controlled nightclubs, where waitresses can easily hear drink orders and make conversation above the music.
  • Nice touch to see that Debbie puts ‘Kimba’on for the children to watch during daycare, rather than its more expensive spiritual counterpart (or rip-off) The Lion King.
  • I don’t smoke, but even I cringed that Kevin had to destroy all that beautiful, beautiful weed.
  • I suppose one could argue that Fiona wouldn’t want the cops to pay closer attention to their living arrangement, but why does no one think to call the police over Liam’s kidnapping? Frank welching on a bet isn’t exactly legal grounds to get anyone in trouble.
  • Not that I’m complaining, but Shameless can’t put Emmy Rossum in track gear and expect us to believe in ANY capacity that Fiona would be out of shape.

What did YOU think?

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  1. Hunier
      • Hunier
    • Megan
  2. Megan
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