Early this week my housemate convinced me to see Shameless (US version) on Netflix, and I’m glad I did. I’ve been meaning to start it last year, but I was deep in Fresh Meat, Stranger Things, You’re the Worst, Fargo, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (lol), Bojack Horseman and other shows that make me feel human, like Chef’s Table.
There’s something about shows set in a house that gets me. Maybe because I’ve started living with strangers since I was sixteen, and now I’m living in a sharehouse in a foreign land with sitcom characters from different parts of the world. There’s currently eight of us in the house – five Filipinos with only two speaking Tagalog (that includes me), an Italian, a German and a Pole. For the most part, we’re a pretty normal, fun-loving bunch – drinking and smoking together in the garage, watching movies together, going to the beach together, talking about sex and consoling each other afterwards. But there’s also the occasional shouting matches in the kitchen snowballing into a confrontation extravaganza with at least one person crying, leading to a grand assembly where we take note of our realizations and promise to move forward as better people. I love those idiots.
Shameless is about a dysfunctional Chicago family, and that’s about all you need to know to give it a try. The dad is an absolute scum of the earth; Fiona, played by Emmy Rossum looks like an adult Nancy from Stranger Things; Steve the boyfriend is played by that actor from the spectacularly problematic Dragonball live action movie where he played white Goku; and Veronica is that girl whose face became the basis for Rochelle’s character from Left 4 Dead. I’m only on the eighth episode of the first season, and I’m glad I still have a long way to go because it’s already on its seventh season.
The characters themselves were conjured from a fiction writer’s wet dream. There’s the genius kid who loves to fuck around, the gay kid doing ROTC, the little girl who acts like a fifty-year-old mom and a sadistic boy who loves to destroy things and put live animals in the microwave. Even the supporting characters were thought-out: an agoraphobic, high-strung but well-meaning neighbor, a charming interracial couple and perpetually horny white girls. The show gives a pretty interesting nuance to the lengths poor people go to get by (hence the title), and it is equal parts eye-opening, disturbing and heartwarming. It touches on sensitive topics like race, inequality and homosexuality, but it’s more of an exposition rather than an attempt to evangelize. Watch it!
PS. The soundtrack is amazing.