Shameless is an Americantelevisioncomedy-drama which airs on Showtime. This remake of the award-winning British series is set in Chicago's Canaryville neighborhood on the South Side, although filmed in Los Angeles, with the exterior scenes filmed in Chicago. The series premiered on January 9, 2011. The show's second season, which began shooting on July 5, 2011 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 and premiered on Sunday, January 13, 2013. On January 29, 2013, Showtime renewed Shameless for a fourth season, which premiered on January 12, 2014. On February 18, 2014, Showtime renewed Shameless for a fifth season.
The series depicts 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".
Father to the six Gallagher children. He is a deadbeat alcoholic, drug addict and morally deficient freeloader who relies on his children to barely get by. He swindles the state welfare system whenever he can and he starts affairs with anyone he can start with leading him to have more children than known to his others. His opportunistic deceit appears to have impressed on his kids. He begins a relationship with Sheila Jackson when he discovers that she gets maximum disability benefits for her agoraphobia. He is the biological father of Fiona, Lip, Debbie, Carl, and Liam—but not Ian, and in season 4, reveals his eldest daughter is Sammi. He often self-righteously pontificates about political and social issues, yet spends most of his time developing schemes to cheat the system and take advantage of others in order to make money. He pays little attention to his children, but can display care and concern for them in drastic circumstances. In season 4, his liver fails, forcing him to find a donor or live out his last days.
The eldest of the Gallagher children (21). Because of her mother's absence and Frank's neglect, most of the responsibility of child-rearing falls on her shoulders; this forced her to drop out of high school in her junior year. She works a few dead-end minimum-wage jobs to support her five siblings. Though often stressed and exhausted by her responsibilities, she never fails to perform them. Prone to total-selflessness, she sometimes needs to be reminded to look out for her own happiness as well. At the close of Season 2 she gets her GED and begins to take interest in more serious jobs. In Season 3, after Frank calls social services on them out of sheer spite, she wins a court case (and the admiration of the judge) to be her siblings' legal guardian, which strains her relationship with Jimmy; who is presumed (but unconfirmed) to be dead at the end of Season 3 (at the hands of Estefania's father after she's taken by INS). Fiona finally gets a decent job towards the end of Season 3 with a Cup company. With Lip off to college, Frank out of the house (seemingly) for good and Ian (unbeknownst to the others) having enlisted in the Army, Fiona's home workload is lighter. In season 4, Fiona is arrested when Liam tries cocaine at a house party, getting hospitalized.
A young man relentlessly pursuing Fiona, 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 that he steals cars for a living. It is later discovered that his real name is Jimmy and he comes from a wealthy family. In Season 2 he marries Estefania, the daughter of a Brazilian mafia mob leader, though he is not interested in her. Fiona and Jimmy resume their relationship at the end of Season 2. Nando, Estefania's father, wants her to become a citizen and stay in the US, and he threatens to kill Jimmy if he does not act as her devoted husband for the Immigration office. Jimmy spends Season 3 living a dual life between Fiona and Estefania with Beto, one of Nando's cronies, keeping a close eye on him. In the end Estefania cannot convince Immigration that the marriage is not a scam, and Nando takes Jimmy on a boat, presumably to murder him. Whether Jimmy is actually dead is left ambiguous.
The second Gallagher child (18) and the most academic. He is a straight-A student who uses his intelligence in various money-making schemes, such as running an ice-cream truck 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; he smokes cigarettes, uses marijuana, drinks alcohol, has unprotected sex and even steals vehicles. He has a strong bond with his brother Ian and is the first family member to know that Ian is gay. Lip develops a torrid relationship with Karen after helping her in math, and soon falls in love with her. But after Karen marries Jody and gives birth to a baby belonging neither to Lip or Jody, Lip begins a relationship with Mandy Milkovich.
The third Gallagher child (17) and (according to Frank) the most like their mother. He participates in Army JROTC at school and works at the Kash and Grab grocery store. His middle name is Clayton. He is gay but only "out" to Fiona, Frank, Jimmy, Monica, Mickey, Mandy, and Lip. He has had several furtive relationships: first with his employer, the Muslim grocer Kash, and later with (also closeted) neighborhood thug, Mickey Milkovich. He is not Frank's biological son, but he is his biological nephew. At the end of season 3, when Mickey marries to preserve the masquerade of being straight, Ian obtains forged documents in Lip's name and enlists in the Army, even though underage.
Emma Kenney as Debbie Gallagher
One of the middle Gallagher children (13), Debbie is kind, 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, puts a pillow under her father's head when he's passed out on the floor, and collects money for charity year-round—only some of which she keeps for herself. Debbie is very loving, and has shown the most forgiveness for her father's neglect and irresponsibility as well as her mother's absence. She is very mature in some ways, and therefore has trouble making friends with people her age. Debbie is also physically immature, which is a great source of frustration and anxiety for her, especially in light of bullying by other girls at the city pool. In Season 3, she enters into her teen years, becoming more rebellious, disrepectful and secretive.
Ethan Cutkosky as Carl Gallagher
The second-youngest Gallagher child (12). 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. In his early years, he displays several psychopathic tendencies such as mutilating his toys and killing stray animals. Although this behavior seems to be less prevalent as he ages, and he begins to show concern for Frank. His bond with Frank is strengthened after Frank convinces him he has cancer (for one of his schemes—later "cured") and Carl helps him stay in the van after being kicked out. Later, Frank somewhat inexplicably takes the blame for a heist he and Carl have committed. In season 4, when Frank's liver fails, Carl takes it on himself to find him an organ donor.
Brennan Kane Johnson & Blake Alexander Johnson as Liam Gallagher
The youngest of the Gallagher children (2). He is black despite having two white parents due to a recessive black gene the Gallagher's acquired from Frank's grandmother, who (allegedly) had an affair with a jazz musician. He is starting to verbalize more, however, his character has yet to be developed.
The Gallaghers' neighbor, Fiona's best friend and confidante, she often gives her advice concerning relationships, caring for her siblings, and caring for herself. Always willing and able to lend a hand, Veronica had pursued a medical career until she was fired from the hospital for stealing medical supplies. She currently works as a webcam girl. Thought to be unable to conceive with Kevin, she has him impregnate her mother Carol, but when Veronica later finds out that she's pregnant with triplets and Kevin reveals that the bar is losing money, Carol refuses her request to abort her own baby.
The bartender at the Alibi Room (the one bar where Frank has not been banned) and the Gallaghers' neighbor and friend. Though frequently exasperated by Frank's lifestyle, he gives him drinks on credit and cashes his disability checks for him. He and Veronica have a successful relationship, though he is technically married to another woman who previously left him. He is dyslexic and grew up in foster care, living with several families.
An agoraphobic germophobe, Karen's mother and Eddie's widow. Sheila developed her conditions when Karen was young, and has tried to overcome them for years. Frank seduces her in order to live in her home, taking advantage of her cooking, disability checks, and bedroom hospitality. Sheila is a kind and caring person, if a bit empty-headed.
Lip's tutoring student and the neighborhood bad girl. She begins a casual relationship with Lip, but due to her promiscuous nature she refuses to make any real commitment, leading to a complicated relationship between the two. Her mother, Sheila, is a doting agoraphobe and her father, Eddie, is a straitlaced bus driver and devout Christian who left their family in the pilot episode. He later tries to reconnect with Karen by having her attend his church's purity ball in exchange for a car. At the end of Season 2 Karen gives birth to a baby with Down syndrome. Karen runs away from home when her mother elects to take the baby; midway through Season 3 she returns and Mandy runs her over with a car. Though she doesn't die from the incident, she sustains frontal-lobe brain damage resulting in a short-term memory lapse, and Jody takes Karen and her baby to Arizona to be with faith healers.
Noel Fisher as Mickey Milkovich (Recurring season 1–2, Regular season 3-4)
Mandy's aggressive and sometimes psychopathic older brother. Mickey is gay, but keeps it a closely guarded secret to avoid public ridicule and his father's scorn; he has sex with women to protect his reputation. He and Ian begin a relationship when Ian goes to Mickey's house to settle his repeated open acts of shoplifting at the Kash and Grab. Mickey carries firearms illegally and has a very long prison record, like his father. In Season 3, Mickey's father catches him and Ian having sex, brutally beats them, and calls in a Russian prostitute to "fuck the gay out of Mickey." When this gets the girl pregnant, Mickey's father forces him to marry her, but he's still in love with Ian and is heartbroken when Ian decides to enlist in the Army.
Jane Levy(Recurring season 1) and Emma Greenwell (Recurring season 2, Regular season 3-4) as Mandy Milkovich
Mickey's sister, the bad girl of Ian's class although she has a sweeter side. Initially offended with Ian when he rejects her advances, she becomes a good friend, offering to act as his girlfriend to keep his homosexuality secret. Mandy is promiscuous and proud of it: in Season 2 she seduces Lip and agrees to seduce Jody to help him and Karen break up. She has no idea that while she's pretending to be Ian's girlfriend, he is having sex with her brother Mickey. She was once raped by her intoxicated father (who had mistaken her for her dead mother); she got pregnant but had an abortion. Like her brothers, she has suffered heavily at the hands of her father and formed a tough, occasionally violent exterior. Mandy loves Lip and does most of the work of applying him to colleges without his knowledge, recognizing that he is the only one with a potentially bright future. They have casual sex frequently. When Karen returns, Mandy is infuriated with her blatant selfish attempts to seduce Lip back into a relationship when Karen doesn't care about him and Mandy does. Mandy eventually lures Karen out and hits her with her car, causing her massive head trauma and permanent short-term memory loss. Initially afraid that Mandy has become psychotic, Lip eventually confronts her and they have a vicious breakup. But before he departs for college, Lip thanks Mandy for everything she has done for him.
Zach McGowan as Jody Silverman (Recurring season 2, Regular season 3)
A man Karen meets at Sex Addicts Anonymous and later marries. Jody is a keen tattoo artist, often looking for work and helping around the house. He becomes extremely attached to Sheila and calls her 'Mom', unaware that Karen is cheating on him with Lip. He is good-natured, if somewhat absent-minded.
Jake McDorman as Mike Platt (Recurring season 3, Regular season 4)
Fiona's corporate boss who she starts an affair with.
Nick Gehlfuss as Robbie Pratt
Mike's brother who Fiona also starts an affair with. Mike finds out at a family occasion and punches him in the face (s4e3)
Fiona's friend, the married mother of three kids. She is more free-spirited than Fiona and is less conventional with her parental responsibilities despite the fact that the children in her care are her own, not younger siblings. She often tries to bring Fiona out of her shell by inviting her to parties and setting her up with different men. Eventually Jasmine's husband discovers her multiple infidelities and kicks her out, leaving Jasmine with no place to go.
Pej Vahdat as Kash
Owner of the grocery store Kash and Grab. He has an affair with Ian despite being a married, putatively 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 and, feeling trapped in his marriage and now without Ian beside him, he leaves, thrusting the responsibility upon Ian to tell his family.
Neighbor and police officer who bore a liking for Fiona for some time. He initially lives with his overbearing 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 redoing his house, having found a new girlfriend (who may or may not be purchased from the internet, as stated by Steve).
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 rebellious daughter. He appears to be quite religious, which causes his breakdown when he learns of Karen's true sexual nature, and he eventually commits suicide (at the end of Season 1).
A 13-year-old girl removed from a polygamist colony and taken in by Veronica and Kevin as a foster child after the police arrested her elderly husband for molestation charges. She has four "sister-wives" from the marriage and is later discovered to have had a child in the marriage, Jonah, whom Kevin and Veronica also take care of. Initially Ethel struggles to fit in with her new surroundings, but soon warms up to Kevin and Veronica as well as the Gallaghers.
Kash's wife, 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 and Ian have been having an affair, she accepts it, but only on the basis he gives her another child and he not touch the 'forbidden fruit' (Ian) until she is pregnant. She gets pregnant, but Kash leaves several months later.
Frank's ex-wife and the mother of the Gallagher brood who has bipolar disorder. She feels terrible for abandoning her children but can never sustain her love and concern for them for very long before succumbing to drugs, selfishness, and depression. She is resented and distrusted by the older Gallagher children, but is sometimes able to coax Debbie or Carl into spending time with her.
Also known as 'Grammy', she is the formidable mother of Frank and matriarch of the Gallagher family. She is sent home from prison on medical furlough after lying about her health and immediately goes after a retired meth dealer who profited from her arrest and demands money from him, a plan which Frank ends up ruining. Despite her extremely hostile nature, she tries her best to reach out to the Gallagher children, giving Fiona money and showering Carl and Debbie with gifts. She dies at the end of Season 2 after revealing that she has terminal cancer.
A college professor who catches Lip attempting to take 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 and popular culture in order to bed his female students.
The lesbian bartender at the Alibi Room. Jess is witty and has a dry sense of humor; she takes charge of the books at the Alibi Room, unaware that it's because the dyslexic 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 Stan's daughter and have him put in a home, yet Kevin is reluctant.
Nicky Korba as Little Hank
Carl's friend, 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.
A banker who tries to woo Fiona while 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 has escaped arrest numerous times, which causes Frank to turn to him when he needs a watertight alibi to stop the police questioning him about the death of Eddie Jackson. He also very nearly catches Ian and Mickey together, but thinks nothing of it. It is later discovered, due to his constant drinking and blackouts, that he has unknowingly impregnated his daughter Mandy.
Jim Hoffmaster as Kermit
One of Frank's cohorts at the Alibi Room, he often listens to Frank's rants and stories. He is quick to defend his name when people liken it to that of Kermit the Frog.
Jimmy's wife and a drug lord's daughter. She was married to Jimmy yet had a flame (in Marco) but at the end of Season 2 he has abused her and she has taken up residence at the Gallaghers'. In Season 3, everything appears to be normal between Estefania and Marco because they are living together when Estefania's father, Nando, comes to the States and quickly puts a bullet through Marco's head.
Frank's eldest daughter revealed in season 4 (e.4), is sought out by Frank when he needs a liver transplant corroded by his alcoholism. She lives in a trailer in a rundown neighborhood with just her son, Chuck"ie". Unaware that he's her father upon meeting him, she is sexually attracted to him, but only corrected when she is not a match for Frank's organ donor. Although intensely enraged at her unintentional supposed moral crime, she quickly accepts him back and becomes his somewhat caretaker. Frank explains that his estrangement of her stems from his youthful immaturity of being a father and that he initially wanted to abort her, and also that he's not sure how he impregnated her mother. It is unrevealed who Sammi's mother is or who the father of Chuck is. Her son, Chuck becomes Carl's partner in crime in pranks and thefts, e.g. stealing spruce trees from a Chicago Police station.
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.
A unique presenting trademark is a main character breaking the fourth wall at episode beginnings inquiring as to why the viewer supposedly didn't view the previous episode before recap flashbacks with unaired scenes.
The first episode of the series, "Pilot", was watched by 982,000 viewers, making 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 first season score on Metacritic is a 66 of 100, which is a generally favorable review. The second season score on Metacritic is a 76 of 100, indicating increasingly favorable reviews. 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.
^Emmy Rossum (2011-07-03). "@emmyrossum on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2011-07-18. "Crazy week getting ready for season two. Tuesday july 5 is day 1 of shooting. Read thru Thursday was great. We have a lot of fun in store!"