Shameless is an American television dramedy series that airs on Showtime. It is a remake of the award-winning British series of the same name broadcast on Channel 4. The series is set in Chicago's South Side Canaryville neighborhood, although it is filmed in South Lawndale, Chicago and Burbank, California at Warner Bros. Studios. The series premiered on January 9, 2011. The show's second season, which began shooting on July 5, premiered on Sunday, January 8, 2012. On February 1, 2012, the series was renewed for a third season, which began shooting on June 27, 2012.
The series follows the dysfunctional family of Frank Gallagher, a single father of six children. While he spends his days drunk, his kids learn to take care of themselves.
The show's producers sought to distinguish it from previous American working-class shows by highlighting how Frank's alcoholism affects his family. Paul Abbott, creator of the original, said, "It's not My Name Is Earl or Roseanne. It's got a much graver level of poverty attached to it. It's not blue collar; it's no collar." When John Wells, the showrunner, began pitching the show, he had to fight efforts to place the show in the South or in a trailer park. He explained, "We have a comedic tradition of making fun of the people in those worlds. The reality is that these people aren't 'the other' — they're people who live four blocks down from you and two blocks over".
- William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher – father to the six Gallagher children. He is a selfish alcoholic and completely narcissistic, and has done nothing but collect his disability checks (illegally) and drink for years. He begins a relationship with Sheila after he discovers she gets maximum disability benefits for her agoraphobia. While he is Fiona, Lip, Debbie, Carl, and Liam's biological father, he is not Ian's.
- Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher – the eldest of the Gallagher children (21). Most of the responsibility and child-rearing falls on her shoulders. She works a few dead-end, minimum wage jobs to bring in money and enjoys going out dancing with her girlfriends.
- Justin Chatwin as Steve Wilton/Jimmy Lishman is a young man relentlessly pursuing Fiona's heart, going to great lengths to win her over. He owns expensive things and throws money around liberally, which Fiona finds off-putting, until she discovers he steals cars for a living. It is later discovered that his real name is Jimmy, and he comes from a wealthy family.
- Jeremy Allen White as Phillip "Lip" Gallagher – the second Gallagher child (17) and the most academic. He is a straight A student. He uses his intelligence in various odd jobs to make money, such as running an ice cream truck in the summer that sells beer and marijuana, or taking the SATs for fellow students (often scoring a 2400, a perfect score). Despite his above average intelligence, he is not considered responsible, and is frequently shown smoking cigarettes, using marijuana, drinking alcohol, and having unprotected sex.
- Cameron Monaghan as Ian Gallagher – the third Gallagher child (16) and (according to Frank) the most like their mother. He participates in Army ROTC at school and works at a local grocery store. He is gay, but only a handful of people – Fiona, Frank, Monica, Mickey, Mandy, and Lip – know about it. He is not the son of Frank, but of Monica and one of Frank's brothers. His middle name is Clayton.
- Emma Kenney as Debbie Gallagher – One of the middle Gallagher children (11), Debbie is helpful and has a good heart. She's willing to bring her baby brother to school for show and tell when there's no one else to watch him, put a pillow under her father's head when he's passed out on the floor, and collect money for charity year round – only some of which she keeps for herself.
- Ethan Cutkosky as Carl Gallagher – the second youngest Gallagher child (10). He shares a room with older brothers Lip and Ian, who try to keep their more adult interests from him. Carl is often in trouble at school for attacking other students, and his hobbies include bringing stray animals home and killing them. He also plays football on the team that Steve coaches.
- Brennan Kane Johnson & Blake Alexander Johnson as Liam Gallagher – The youngest of the Gallagher children, he is black despite having two white parents.
- Shanola Hampton as Veronica Fisher, The Gallagher's neighbor. Veronica is always willing and able to lend a hand and had hoped to pursue a medical career before being fired from the hospital for stealing medical supplies.
- Steve Howey as Kevin "Kev" Ball is the bartender at "The Alibi Room" (the one bar where Frank has not been banned) and the Gallaghers' neighbor and friend. He's a good guy who's willing to give Frank drinks on credit and cash his disability checks for him. He and Veronica have a successful relationship, though he is technically married to another woman who left him priorly. He comes from living with several foster families, and is dyslexic.
- Laura Slade Wiggins as Karen Jackson is Lip's tutoring student and neighborhood bad girl. She is happy to repay Lip's tutoring with sexual favors, leading to a complicated relationship between the two. Her mother is an agoraphobic and her father was a straight-laced, short-tempered bus driver who committed suicide. She gives birth to a child at the end of the second season.
- Joan Cusack as Sheila Jackson is an agoraphobic germophobe, and Frank's main love interest. While it's difficult for her to even think about leaving the house, she invites Frank into her home with open arms to take advantage of her cooking, disability checks and bedroom hospitality. She begins to show some recovery from her agoraphobia by adding distance to her limited daily ventures, then on the day she was to go see Frank for a drink at the Alibi where he "works" she very nearly gets taken out by an airliner wheel that falls from the sky crashing at her feet. After reverting to the recluse she used to be, Grammy Gallagher moves in with her and Frank. Sheila later kills Grammy by asphyxiation upon her dying request, this leads Sheila to want to open a hospice in her home. while trying to cope with her late husbands ghost she developes a sexual relationship with Jody in Franks absence.
- Amy Smart as Jasmine Hollander – Fiona's friend. She is the married mother of 3 kids. She is more free-spirited than Fiona and is less conventional with her parental responsibilities. She often tries to bring Fiona out of her shell by inviting her to parties and setting her up with different men.
- Pej Vahdat as Kash – Owner of the local shop, seen to be having an affair with Ian, despite being a married devout Muslim with children. When his wife discovers Kash's sexuality, she allows it, so long as he gives her another child. However Kash soon grows sick of Linda's behavior, feeling trapped in his marriage and now without Ian beside him, he leaves, thrusting the responsibility upon Ian to tell his family.
- Tyler Jacob Moore as Tony Markovich – Neighbor and Police Officer, who bore a liking for Fiona for some time. He initially lives with his over-bearing mother, whom he's desperate to impress. The Gallaghers attempt to keep Tony sweet in order to keep out of trouble, however as Tony gets more involved in their lives when he begins dating Fiona, he grows more cautious of Steve's illegal activity, resulting in a vendetta that lands Lip and Ian under arrest. In Season 2, Tony is re-doing his house, having found a new girlfriend (who may or may not be purchased from the internet, as stated by Steve).
- Joel Murray as Eddie Jackson (Season 1) – The overbearing father of Karen and husband of Sheila. It appears he's stuck in an unhappy marriage, with a wife constantly on edge and a daughter hell-bent of rebelling. He appears to be quite religious, which causes his break-down when he learns of Karen's true sexual nature. After being forced out of his own home, he moves into the basement, but when Frank moves himself in, Eddie is forced to go elsewhere. Hell bent on revenge after being shown up at religious parent and child meeting, Karen has sex with Frank and films it as well as posting various other hate-blogs directed towards him. Feeling as if though he failed as a man, Eddie throws himself into frozen water, tied to a cement block. When his body is found, Frank is questioned, but later released only to find out his attempts to get Eddie's life insurance has failed as the money had been given to Karen.
- Jane Levy (Season 1) and Emma Greenwell (Season 2 – present) as Mandy Milkovich – The bad girl of Ian's class, shown to be from the wrong side of the tracks, Mandy also possesses a sweeter side to her. She is put out initially when Ian doesn't share the same feelings for her, but when she later discovers his sexuality, she agrees to act as his beard. Mandy is noted to be promiscuous and proud of it as she seduces Lip in the second season, before agreeing to do the same to Jody in an attempt to break him and Karen up. Despite acting as Ian's beard, she has no idea that he is in fact having sex with her brother, Mickey. She is pregnant.
- Madison Davenport as Ethel – A teenage girl removed from a polygamist colony and sent to Veronica and Kevin as a foster child after the police arrested her elderly husband for molestation charges. She has four other sister-wives and is later discovered to have had a child in the marriage, Jonah, who Kevin and Veronica also take care of. Initially Veronica uses Ethel to take care of the chores she can't be bothered to do, however the pair warm to her and she begins interacting with the Gallagher family, helping Debbie with daycare. After meeting young father, Malik, at Kevin's basketball coaching, the two seem to take a liking to each other. This later sours as Malik mistakes Ethel wishing her husband, Clyde, would be 'taken care of' (which he presumes to mean be killed) When Malik's father kills Clyde, her sister-wives report they want Ethel back with her and will fight for custody, worrying Kevin and Veronica. Worried about her future, Ethel digs up marijuana she had witnessed Kevin bury, giving it to Malik so they could get money to run away together. She left a message to Kevin and Veronica stating they would meet again, she has since sent a post-card from Kansas and numerous other places.
- Marguerite Moreau as Linda – Kash's wife, shown as a business-minded busybody. She is a Muslim convert and proud mother, but treats everything like a business, including her marriage. When she discovers her husband has been having a gay affair, she accepts it on the basis that he gives her another child. Kash later leaves Linda pregnant and alone.
- Noel Fisher as Mickey Milkovich – The aggressive and sometimes psychopathic older brother of Mandy. He and Ian begin having an affair when Ian goes to Mickey's house to settle repeated incidents at the Kash and Grab. Mickey has gone to juvie on the show twice. The first is when Kash catches him and Ian having sex, and, out of jealousy, shoots him the next time he tries to shoplift. Incidentally, Mickey begins working at the Kash and Grab soon after as part of his parole. The second is when Ian and Mickey are caught having sex by Frank. Mickey tries to kill Frank, but reconsiders, and decides to assault a police officer instead.
- Chloe Webb as Monica Gallagher – Frank's ex wife and the mother of the Gallagher brood. Stated to have bipolar disorder, she is shown to be extremely selfish as she turned up out of the blue demanding to see her children, and take Liam away to raise with her lover, Roberta (Carlease Burke). Failing to get custody of Liam, Monica left town again. Upon the death of Frank's mother, Monica returned home and attempted to reclaim her place as the mother of the family, as well as revive her relationship with Frank. She soon fell into a state of depression and attempted to kill herself by slitting her wrists as the family ate. Despite her protests, Frank attempted to break Monica out of the hospital, only to find her having relations with her new lover. Upon escaping, Monica and her new girlfriend took the getaway car for themselves, leaving Frank and their children alone once more.
- Louise Fletcher as Peg Gallagher – Also known as 'Grammy' she is the formidable mother of Frank and matriarch of the Gallagher family, being sent home from prison after lying about her health. Immediately she goes after an old dealer who profited from her arrest and demands money from him, which Frank ends up ruining. The mother and son are shown to have a frosty relationship and she soon makes an enemy from Sheila, who she even tries to shoot. Despite her hostile nature, she tries her best to reach out to the Gallagher children, giving Fiona money and showering Carl and Debbie with gifts. However, when Peg tries to run a meth lab in the basement, Fiona and Frank plot to get rid of her only to discover that she really is dying of cancer and hasn't got long to live.
- Zach McGowan (actor) as Jody Silverman – A man Karen meets at Sex Addicts Anonymous and later marries. Jody is a keen tattoo artist, often seen looking for work and helping around the house. He becomes extremely attached to Sheila calling her 'Mom', but is unaware that Karen breaks her celibacy and is cheating on him with Lip. When Karen falls pregnant, she tells Lip that Jody will be the father, but when he becomes too overbearing she kicks him out (not before making him sign a pre-nuptial agreement first).
- Michael Patrick McGill as Tommy
- Kerry O'Malley as Kate
- Dennis Boutsikaris as Professor Hearst – A college professor that catches Lip out when he attempts to sit someone else's exam. Since then he has tried to push Lip's intelligence into numerous projects in return for drugs and knowledge about youth/popular culture in order to bed his female students.
- Missy Doty as Jess – The lesbian bartender at the Alibi Room. Jess seems witty and has a dry sense of humor, she takes charge of the books at the Alibi, unaware that it's because Kevin can't read. The two often clash over Stan (The business owner), who is slowly losing his mental faculties. She pushes for Kevin to phone his daughter and have him put in a home, yet Kevin seems reluctant.
- Nicky Korba as Little Hank – Carl's friend, shown to be socially awkward and slightly twisted. He tries to woo numerous girls and often leads the way on pranks and stunts that land him and Carl in trouble – such as taking advantage of his house-sitting duties. Despite all this, Debbie takes a shine to him, although at the time he seems more interested in other girls. He later gives Debbie a bunch of flowers, albeit drunk at the time.
- James Wolk as Adam – A Banker that is seen trying to woo Fiona whilst she is working at a bar, Veronica tells Fiona that he is just a second rate version of Steve, but she takes no notice. He encourages her to try and break her track record, which she never got to do at school and the two later begin dating. However when Steve arrives back in town and the two double date (Alongside Steve's new wife, Estefania) he notices the signs between Fiona and Steve and is left heartbroken and humiliated, telling Fiona to stay away.
- Dennis Cockrum as Terry Milkovich – The father of Mandy and Mickey, he is known to have escaped arrest numerous times, which causes Frank to turn to him when he needs a water-tight alibi to stop the police questioning him about the death of Eddie Jackson. He also very nearly catches Ian and Mickey together, but assumes the pair have been on drugs and thinks nothing of it. It is later discovered, due to his constant drinking and blackouts he has unknowingly impregnated his daughter, Mandy.
- Jim Hoffmaster as Kermit – One of Frank's cohorts at the Alibi Room, often seen listening to Frank's rants and stories. He is quick to defend his name, when people liken it to that of Kermit the Frog.
- Vanessa Bell Calloway as Carol Fisher – Veronica's loud and proud mother, she is the owner of a beauty salon/hairdressers and always speaks her mind.
- Stephanie Fantauzzi as Estefania – Jimmy's wife and Drug Lord's daughter. She was married to Jimmy yet had a flame in Marco but at the end of Season 2 has abused her and has taken up residence at the Gallaghers.
Development and production
Somehow all the resonances from the original series occur in the remake, but in a different vocabulary
Paul Abbott in an interview with The New York Times
HBO began developing an American version of Shameless after striking a deal with John Wells in January 2009. By October 2009, the development had moved to Showtime. John Wells Productions filmed a pilot episode for the cable network in December 2009. William H. Macy stars in the lead role as Frank Gallagher. Also joining the cast were former Dragonball Evolution co-stars Emmy Rossum as Fiona, and Justin Chatwin as Steve. Paul Abbott, whose semi-autobiographical telescript became the pilot episode for the original UK version, is credited as an executive producer on the U.S. version.
In April 2010, Showtime green-lit the series with a twelve-episode order. In late August, Joan Cusack was cast as Sheila, a romantic interest for Frank, replacing Allison Janney, who portrayed the role in the pilot. Production began in mid-September.
A preview of the pilot aired on December 12, 2010, after the season 5 finale of Dexter. The first season officially began airing on Showtime on Sunday, January 9, 2011.
Although the series is set in Chicago, the show is mostly filmed in Los Angeles, with the exterior scenes filmed in Chicago.
The first episode of the series, "Pilot", was watched by 982,000 viewers, which makes it the network's biggest turnout for a series premiere since Dead Like Me in 2003. The episode airing January 30, "Casey Casden", received 1.45 million total viewers, making Shameless the best performing first-year drama on Showtime.
Critical reaction to the series has been mostly positive. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter said that "Shameless is excellent, compelling television from the first moment. As long as it stays true to the roots of the original, it's going to be essential viewing". The show's average score on Metacritic is a 66, which is a generally favorable review. Tom O'Neill of the Los Angeles Times acknowledged the Emmy buzz around Shameless, especially the performance of Emmy Rossum, stating "she didn't have much Emmy buzz after Shameless debuted in January, but that changed after she gave powerhouse turns in such episodes as 'But at Last Came a Knock'". BuddyTV ranked Shameless #8 on its list of 2011's best new TV shows.
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