"THAT is what the Gallaghers are all about, they put the fun in dysfunctional that’s for sure!"
Fans of the original British Drama series, Shameless, might well wince at the idea of our dear American cousins getting their hands on another of our TV legacies. ‘How can they!?’ I hear you cry ‘Look what they did to the I.T Crowd, Coupling and Fawlty Towers!’ Sure there’s been a few hit and misses in the past but look at the ones who made it, The Office for example. A show that went on to become a huge hit and is now entering its 9th season.
Fear not though, as I'm quite happy to announce the American version of Shameless is ruddy brilliant, and not only that it's hilarious! For those who never caught the show when it aired in the UK, ‘Shameless’ was the bittersweet story of the Gallagher family, no relation to Liam and Noel but just as troublesome and barb tongued as the Manc rockers. Led by their alcoholic, benefit cheating father Frank, the show revolved around his family and their struggle to make ends meet on a rough Manchester council estate.
Sounds pretty grim right, but Shameless wasn’t just your typical British kitchen sink drama, in fact the show has a real sense of joy and warmth at its core, it’s a show with a lot of heart and humour, and fortunately the Americans have picked up on that too!
Taking over the iconic role of Frank, played in the original by the fantastic David Threlfall, was always going to be a tough act to follow, and personally when I first heard that William H. Macy had won the part I was more than a little skeptical, but then I suppose the very definition of acting is pretending to be someone you’re not. With greasy shoulder length blonde locks, Macy ably steps into the vomit stained trainers of Frank Gallagher and gives a damn near perfect impression of a booze soaked jobless loser.
While Macy's performance as the patriarchal figure is great, it is completely outshone however by his supporting cast of family. There's the gorgeous Emmy Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow) who as the eldest daughter, Fiona, essentially has slipped into the role of mother, she cooks, she cleans , not just the house but the frequent bloody noses of her teenage younger brothers, Lip and Ian. There's been a real attempt, although not an entirely successful one to disguise the natural beauty of Emmy Rossum and turn her into a raggedy housewife. There's also Debbie, the youngest girl whose been forced to grow up amongst a family of drunk retrobates and misfits, and Liam, a black baby whose presence is never really fully explained yet that’s all part of the dysfunctional menagerie that is the Gallagher family!
As I mentioned, part of the sheer enjoyment in Shameless lies in its blend of laugh out loud comedy, but also its heart wrenching gutsy moments of drama and emotion and Shameless has both in spades. Storylines jump from far fetched scenarios such as baby kidnapping and sexual fetishes to genuine real life dramas such as the ongoing narrative of Ian coming out as a homosexual. This show really has everything.
So with Frank barely around, and when he is he’s usually found passed out behind the sofa covered in urine, It's up to Fiona along with her siblings, her best friends and neighbours, Kev and Veronica to help steer the family through hard times but also to share the good ones, to celebrate, drink and get drunk, party to loud music and enjoy life. THAT is what the Gallaghers are all about, they put the fun in dysfunctional that’s for sure!