When your dad is a drunk and your mother has taken off, life could potentially be a disaster. At least that's the way Showtime portrays the insane family on the UK turned American adaptation of their new show, Shameless.
Shameless is a very American family from the wrong side of the tracks in Chicago, whith has a litany of deep-seated emotional issues. Its premiere on Sunday night begins with Frank Gallagher, played by William H. Macy, a bipolar alcoholic who defends his drinking while drinking. His saving grace is his oldest daughter, Fiona. Played brilliantly by Emma Rossum, Fiona has been left responsibility of Lip, Ian, Carl, Debbie and Liam, the siblings her mother left behind. On top of that she has the enviable job of also keeping an eye on her hot mess of a dad, who routinely passes out in a puddle on the living room floor. Caring for the brood might seem like something straight out of a Dickens novel, since the disability checks her dad receives goes straight to binges at the neighborhood bar. Yet Shameless has found hilarity in the everyday mundane. Getting everyone a well-rounded breakfast includes watering down an almost empty gallon of milk and they get creative in making a pathetically sad washing machine to work. Fiona juggles part-time jobs, one being a part-time maid where she gets to dip into the hotel toiletries of endless toilet paper and mini soaps. Lip gets an unlikely gift while tutoring a young girl with an agoraphobic mother (played by quirky Joan Cusack). Keeping the chaos from spiraling out of control isn't always easy but in one endearing scene they all empty their pockets to help pay the electricity bill.
This is a damaged family but a family all the same that finds a way to coexist in their dysfunction. The characters in Shameless, even the supporting ones, are the sort of people you root for. You want Fiona to find the man of her dreams, who buys her the things she deserves. We desperately try to find a redeeming quality in an intoxicated Frank Gallagher, who is captivating yet despicable at the same time. Will these kids show us that the human spirit really can overcome things like alcoholism and poverty?
Sunday night's episode was compelling enough in a very un-Brady Brunch like way. It leaves you wanting more and wondering what on earth the Gallagher's are up to next.
Laura Carlson is a freelance writer who has been a Bostonian, and Angeleno and a Washingtonian. She has covered red carpets, political events and everything in between. Not only does she work in tv, she also loves to write about it. Follow her on Twitter @lauraleecarlson