19 March 2011 | clementmyers_myers
A triumph of American television
I've grown up with the original Shameless. It's a fast paced Comedy-Drama like no other, in that it lends itself perfectly to both without apology or hesitation.
Whereas the British original finds it's characters living, fornicating, screaming and jumping in the revelry of zero-expectation in a rigid class system, the American remake masterfully equivocates the triumphs and the tribulations of a lower class family existing on the edge of acceptability at the heart of society in a flawless, delicate and shameless manner.
The pilot introduces the characters, much like their British counterparts, not in an effort to garner their sympathy but simply as a statement of fact. The aspiring teen marine struggling to hide his homosexuality only fears losing the love of his brother, the absent drunk dad who loves his children but through the haze becomes a heckling prophet - a Shakespearean fool who sees through the thin veil of sanity and order, a young woman struggling to keep the family together seeing a way out through a handsome highwayman. These people are not bad even if they do bad things. Society has forgot about them and for that they couldn't care less for it.
The whole cast is tremendous but William H. Macy rises to the occasion with the father, a Frank Gallagher straight out of a bar in Memphis at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday, last orders, don't interrupt him because he hasn't finished yet, he's got to tell you what's wrong with the world before he wakes up and it all ends. You would believe this guy was a war vet or something with the confidence and delirium at which he pontificates.
No matter what your race or background you can take something away from Shameless. Most television that likes to call itself Comedy, Drama, or both, tends towards a particular demographic, offering an escape fantasy for, say, the 'off-beat' teens in Glee or the sexually deviant young adults in True Blood or the repressed housewives in that show about the repressed housewives.
As the designated guardian's new boyfriend takes a seat at the head of the table, he pushes Frank's legs aside as he crashes drunk on the floor. Shameless doesn't escape anything, it lives in the world it is given and every so often reminds you, during those joyously chaotic scenes, that the sweetest lemonade is almost bitter, so it's just as well every episode is only an hour for you to laugh, cry and enjoy.
Moments of anarchic jubilation inter lap, run over and sometimes juxtapose flourishes of near-the-bone reality, served eloquently on a fresh platter to which America needs to to have the stomach for.