Remakes repel me. Wouldn't it be more interesting and culture-friendly to just air the original in America ? There're reasons why the British series is successful after all and I question the decision to adapt a foreign recipe in order to make it more digestible for a specific audience. That's why it took me a while to decide either or not the show deserved my attention. Now that I have seen the pilot I absolutely not regret my change of heart. Moreover when you think about it the arguments in its favor are numerous enough. However when it comes to Showtime I tend to raise my eyebrows because despite some undeniable qualities productions like Californication and Weeds are definitely not my cup of tea. Otherwise they're just the tip of the iceberg because in my humble opinion Dexter is a masterpiece, at least until season 6, and The Borgias was enchainting.
But let's go back to Shameless. I instantly digged its concept, following a dysfunctional family, because we all have issues. Your mother is a Queen ? Your five years old sister demolished your tower defense highscore ? William H. Macy was the second thing that convinced me to give the show a chance. Indeed his dual performance in Umney's Last Case (Nightmares & Dreamscapes) was delightful so I highly anticipated his role as a drunken father. Sadly it's only a minor one but at least he did a good job and you should enjoy the small gathering scene. The other excuse I found, yes because it confused my senses, is Emmy Rossum. I've always been fascinated by performers breaking the barriers of their own cells to free their talent and shatter the audience. Does Christian Bale in The Machinist ring a bell ? Rossum's transformation is nothing jaw dropping but I really enjoyed that she just looked like the sad girl next door. Without make up, a messy haircut and none of the glamourous attributes that shine on her promotional photos. So considering I had never seen her before her empathic role as Fiona Gallagher confirmed that smoking beauty and real talent can mix on TV !
In the entertaining department we have the best of what Showtime has to offer. From shocking to sex-driven scenes there're plenty of guilty pleasures to appeal the network addicts. However shame on them for not promoting safe sex ! At least they had the decency of keeping Rossum's curves in the dark, making her even more charming and sexy. Anyway these are minor details compared to the story. Yes because in the end it's all about the characters and the obstacles they have to overcome in order to survive the harsh reality ! From addictions to sexuality many interesting and disturbing topics are covered. Add an immersive production with a slightly amateurish visuals and you have a winner ! The wicked minds behind the show also had the wise idea of enriching the story with a more conventional arc. Indeed Fiona can be seen as a modern Cinderella. She's actually inspiring because she takes care of everybody and the ongoing romance intrigued me. Moreover the writers twisted things a little, making an event very surprising. I just didn't see it coming !
In the end it seemed the remake had potential. Between two dramas there was even room for comedy but don't expect Shameless to be a dramedy ! However my fear is that the audience will probably never see the end of it. Indeed the original has already 10 seasons and in this installment I didn't really see a glimpse of hope. It actually reminded me of Hung because I fell in love with it during its first season but gave up on it during the second because it just seemed hopeless. When characters have issues, they have to solve them. Of course you can't become sober overnight nor improve your social condition in a few weeks but I just hate neverending series. Still I have read some raving reviews about Emmy Rossum's performance in later episodes and the preview revealed that the next installment should shock the audience even more !
Note : This review was first posted on Kritikenstein, my weblog.
First of all, I gotta say that I am totally in love with the Pilot episode of 'Shameless'. Now I know it's based on a still-running UK show, which I've actually seen too, and the episode is almost a shot-by-shot remake of that first UK episode, but it is still fantastic.
The first thing I really gotta praise is the cast. William H. Macy is quite good as Frank, the drunken, lazy dad of the family, even though his screen time in this first ep is very limited. Justin Chatwin is appealing, although I don't quite like his character yet, and the youngsters are also very well cast. Jeremy Allen White (Lip), Cameron Monaghan (Ian), cute Emma Kenney (Debbie) and Ethan Cutkosky (Carl) are all great in their parts, although we don't see much at all of Ethan yet, but they really act like a family. The neighbors and friends Kev and Veronica, played by Steve Howey & Shanola Hampton, are also great and add some fun to it, especially feisty Shanola. But the real star of the show is definitely Emmy Rossum, who is just absolutely fantastic as Fiona. She is the head of the family, the one who keeps everything together, the tough but caring one. Her performance is raw and stunning, and just a pleasure to watch.
The family bond is just amazing to watch, they really seem like a real family.
And just to see a show, showing a real, middle-class family, who all need to work to get by, is also great. About damn time.
Story-wise it all gets sorta set up in this first episode, we find out Ian is gay, Lip meets Karen Jackson, who just happens to give him a bj while studying, and her mother Sheila Jackson, played by Joan Cusack in a fantastic and Emmy-nominated performance.
He takes his brother Ian to her, so he sort of gets turned around, or to see if he is really gay, which turns out he is. Karen's father caughts her in the act, so to speak, and freaks out. He then moves out.
We later find out (through Lip) that Ian has an affair with a married muslim Kash, who we works for in his store.
Fiona meets Steve, a mysterious but charming guy, she kind of falls for, although she tries everything not to.
There is a lot of back and forth in this ep already between them, which I personally didn't like.
Frank is just a screw-up in this episode, which already tells us all about him.
All in all is to say that I can't wait to watch the rest of the first season, if he gets better than this episode, it will be more than awesome!!!
There were some positives to draw from the pilot. Despite not getting as much screen time as you would think William H. Macy did a good job as the drunk, lazy yet well-meaning (I think) father and Emmy Rossum instantly became one of my favorite female characters on television. Her scenes were great. This group of kids is well-cast for the most part too.
There were some scenes with sweet dialogue, others with wit, but a lot of the episode was a little mediocre. That is my main gripe. Fun, but not exactly something we have not seen before.
There are some instances where dysfunction can be hilarious and others where the dysfunction can become so out of hand that it's unbelievable and takes away from the realism. For me, "Shameless" is one of the funnest shows I've seen in awhile, has great acting and the writing zooms along effortlessly. However, at times, the dysfunctional family comes across as a little too dysfunctional and makes the show seem a bit of a joke.
Luckily, the show has so many things going for it that it's easy to overlook something so minor. First off, the characters are all memorable in their own way, even the most minor ones. For a show that has William H. Macy, a titan among TV and movie actors, he's barely in it, which leaves room for the other characters to shine. There's the daughter Fiona, who takes on the role of mother in the absence of her own mom or the dad, Frank, who is a massive drunk. From there, we get introduced to Lip, a sarcastic, intelligent guy who is constantly chased down by police. There's Ian, a seventeen year old who is gay but hides it from his family. After that, there's minor characters who don't get as much attention: Carl, Debbie and Liam.
There are other characters here, including Steven, a guy that has been keeping his eye on Fiona for awhile and finally had a chance to make a move after a guy stole her purse. There's the neighbors to the Gallagher's and a family that is dysfunctional in a different way (Joan Cusack guest-stars in this role)
What works best about the episode is the characters themselves. Despite the ridiculous nature of some of the episode, the characters themselves are each given something to remember them by. Most of the time, I struggle to remember the supporting characters of certain shows, but in this show, I can remember each name of each character without having to look it up or figure it out some other way. I particularly like the trio of Fiona (Emmy Rossum) along with Lip and Ian. Those three got the most scenes, even more than William H. Macy, and we've already been introduced to key plot points that can be carried on throughout the remaining eleven episodes.
The show itself doesn't seem to necessarily have a plot; mostly, it's a series of scenes that show the ongoing nature of their lives. Because of that, it can seem aimless. The show bounces from plot point to plot point without really letting us have any quality time with certain characters. And there's a plot involving the family of Lip's fellow student and the father who has a clown obsession and a mother who has some sort of OCD tendencies. Joan Cusack is sort of a dud here and the plot has no connection or relevance to the rest of the show. It's a huge anchor that weighs down parts of the episode.
However, the show has potential. I find myself intrigued by every character and completely willing to invest my time with them. I hope that William H. Macy gets some more substantial scenes besides getting drunk all the time and I also hope we learn more about the past of the family, before they were completely screwed up. But there's still time, and as long as supporting cast remains strong, we should have another strong Showtime show on our hands.
I think I may have found my new TV obsession.The show is fantastic, hysterical, funny and actually finds room for some serious drama. I don't necessarily care that it is a remake since I've never watched the UK version and I woudn't have either way.
Being a UK remake, haters are gonna hate, the same way I am gonna hate on the Skins US remake. But I won't watch the Skins remake anyway. I don't even know if I'm gonna keep watching the UK one cause I dreaded season 4. Anyways, back to Shameless. The actors are fantastic and the I'm in love with some of the characters already. Fiona is the lead apparently and rightfully so. Emmy Rossum plays her perfectly and she's the most caring. Don't really care that much for Frank but I do agree the actor, William H. Macy, is mesmerizing.
But I really love the two brothers the most, Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Lip (Jeremy Allen White). They are probably the closest duo of the family and they are really smart, especially Lip. And Ian, can you blame him? Google Pej Vahdat, who plays Kash. He is like so super hot. (Btw, you might have seen him on Bones as one of the squints. He's the muslim guy.) What else? The neighbors, I love, especially Veronica, and Steve is a nice addition. We did get a few glimps of Sheila, the mother of Lip's friend, played by Joan Cusack, and I was genuinely impressed by her too. Cannot wait to see more of this show!