30 Pilots in 30 Days: Shameless

Had I seen it before: I saw a meme about everyone hating Debbie on FaceBook, but never an actual episode of the show.

What IMDb says: An alcoholic man lives in a perpetual stupor while his six children with whom he lives cope as best they can.

Why I picked it: “Because I needed Premium Cable shows that aren’t HBO” is kinda a lame excuse, isn’t it?

Well, it’s only partially true. This one was suggested to me by a FaceBook friend when I first started asking for suggestions and I had heard enough buzz that it seemed like a good pick.

Shameless also intrigues me because I wasn’t really aware of it until it already had like six seasons under its belt. Is that just because I don’t have a Showtime subscription? Did the show take a few seasons to really hit its stride? Did I just befriend a disproportionate number of Shameless fans within the last two years? Who the hell knows.

Another reason it made the list is that I’m under the impression it’s a comedy. I actually thought it was only a half hour show until I got the suggestion for it and Googled it. Even now, Netflix is recommending it to me based on my interest in Orange is the New Black, which is considered to be a comedy by some. I limited myself to hour-long shows for this project, so it was gonna be tricky to find something to represent comedy that I wasn’t already watching (Here’s to you, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin).

What I liked: All the acting was good, and there were some nice surprise twists, like when we find out how Steve is really making his money.

What I didn’t like: First thing’s first, they literally kicked this one off with a voiceover explaining who all the characters are. And it’s not even a fun voiceover, like Jane the Virgin. We don’t really get any voiceover in the rest of the pilot, which makes this one seem more like lazy exposition than stylistic choice.

I think the main reason I didn’t like this pilot is that it felt very disjointed. Imagine trying to watch a Nicholas Sparks movie but every few minutes, you have to switch to American Pie and then back again. It doesn’t help that I’m not a particular fan of either, but when you’re switching back and forth between two such different storylines, it’s hard to get into either one.

The thing that’s supposed to give everything a common thread is Frank Gallagher, the drunken patriarch of this hot mess family. However, he’s barely relevant. You could write the same pilot where both parents were dead and the six siblings were struggling to get by and you’d barely have to change anything.

In fact, I would argue that the conflict in the pilot doesn’t even really stem from Frank’s alcoholism which is what the writers want me to believe. Lip getting blowjobs from a girl he’s tutoring and trying to figure out if his brother is gay literally has nothing to do with Frank. And while Fiona having to step up and take care of her siblings does have something to do with Frank, it’s also quite likely that she would have the same matriarch role if Frank was say, a workaholic who never spent any time with the kids because he was staying at the office too long. We can attribute that to the fact that Frank is a single dad more than the fact that he’s an alcoholic. 

Do I want to watch Ep. 2: I probably wouldn’t object if I were in a room of friends that happened to be watching, but there’s so much content on the internet I don’t see myself investing a lot of time in this.

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