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Shameless: "Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father"

Illustration for article titled Shameless: "Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father"
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With each new episode of Shameless, my hatred of Steve abates a little bit more. In this week’s installment, the reason for that was less to do with anything Steve did than the function the character serves. Are there guys who would be a better fit for Fiona than Steve? I’d say probably. But the character brings out Fiona’s subtleties in a way that a relationship with Tony would. And hell, it’s also kind of for something Steve did, in insisting on taking Fiona to a swanky hotel. It was a gesture not terribly different from some of the other extravagances he’s tried to spring on a flummoxed and irritated Fiona, but the tone was different. Steve isn’t trying to court Fiona anymore; they are a bona fide couple now, so his gestures seem less inappropriate and overbearing, more sweet and noble. And he’s administering some much needed tough love. After seeing her life and the lives of her siblings destroyed by the selfish libertines who conceived them, Fiona feels self-sacrifice is required to be a good parent. But her self-sacrifice has become some weird ascetic experiment and a perceived life purpose. She’s become convinced that the kids can’t make it a single day without her, but she’s wrong, whether or not Steve paid them to say so.

The Steve and Fiona plot was, unfortunately, one of few things that worked for me about this episode. The main plot picked up from last week, with the bookies trying to shake down Frank for the $6,000 he owes them. After trying some comical ways to raise the money, Frank gets a tip from a fellow untouchable: Fake your own death. So the Gallaghers got their wacky mission for the week, which was to hold a pretend wake for Frank to convince the muscle to leave empty-handed. The issue for me with this plot is that it didn’t seem to track from last week, when the Gallaghers were devastated to see Frank parading around with Karen at parent’s night. I’m interested in the idea of Frank always managing to find a new low. Even though Frank is a parental non-entity, the kids still have some degree of love for him, so he still wields the power to disappoint them, and I was interested in seeing how this latest transgression would redefine those relationships. But by the time we pick up, that whole episode is apparently water under the bridge, and the Gallaghers are gleefully capering again, as they are wont to do. But there’s no apparent benefit to them other than trying to save Frank’s life out of some sense of familial duty, and considering how especially awful he’s been lately, you’d think at least some perfunctory mea culpa would be in order. At some point, being an abysmal father has to have some kind of consequence for Frank.

I wasn’t as irked by Sheila this week. The pairing with Liam was effective and sweet and gave Sheila an opportunity to stretch a little but in a credible way. When it comes time to rescue Liam, she womans up and gets the job done but with a harness of sheets tied around her waist so she still has some connection to her safety nest. But instead of taking from the experience the lesson that nothing bad has to result from leaving the house, she realizes that she wants a new baby in the house. Someone new to depend on her. Someone who hasn’t grown old enough to be ashamed of and embarrassed by her. In addition to humanizing her a little more, her decision to get knocked up lends a little forward momentum to what had been a pretty listless character arc.

The rest of the episode belonged to Ian, whose creepy affair with Kash was finally exposed. The way it was exposed was a little corny and a little contrived, with Kash’s spinelessness finally driving Linda to install cameras in the store. What this was meant to accomplish, I don’t know. Seems the better option than installing cameras so she could return and have audiovisual proof of the non-stop theft and intimidation would be to hire someone to work in the store who is not a complete pantywaist. The Kash and Grab would have more merchandise to grab if there was less of Kash giving it all away. Zing, or something. What follows next was sort of intriguing, though. In the process of confronting Mickey to get the gun back, Ian and Mickey do the nasty, which means Ian’s sex life is at least as active as Fiona’s, if not more. I don’t care much about the ramifications of this tryst, but I like the way the writers have chosen to portray Ian. He’s a kid being sexually capricious in an ongoing campaign to figure out who and what he likes. Kash is still a gross opportunist, but it occurs to me suddenly that while it occurs to me that Kash is taking advantage of Ian, it probably hasn’t occurred to Ian this way, since he’s getting what he wants just as much as Kash is.

Stray observations:

  • No Karen this week and no final confrontation between Lip and Karen, so maybe a discussion of the parents night incident is still forthcoming.
  • I cackled when Frank casually greeted Liam in the yard on his way past the house.
  • Ian’s the top. Twist!