Shameless, ‘Love Songs (In The Key Of Gallagher)’ review: Anywhere south of here

“I can walk back to the village. Central market’s like a narco K-Mart.” 

What a difference a year makes. A year ago in ‘Lazarus,’ you were defiant and had only but a little, fleeting twinge of regret.

In season five, you’re still staring at the sun, still looking out by the water, but you’re not in Chicago. And you’re not nearly as defiant. Oh you’re still just as alive, sure, but you’re not as boisterous. Because Bianca’s gone.

But Sammi? Much to the dismay of the Shameless viewers, this oldest daughter is both alive and part of the universe. Meh. 

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Shameless, ‘Drugs Actually’ review: Not just any bottle

“Every single man, woman and child should experience a single malt before their time is up.” 

It doesn’t matter if you have a plan in life. Either you’ll get to change your plan when situations change because of life, or your plan will become obsolete or redundant because your partner in crime has already enacted the first part.

So maybe you get two cuban cigars instead. 

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Shameless, ‘South Side Rules’ review: Little touch of bourbon

“I can’t offer you much. But what I can do is be your chauffeur on the limousine drive to the Pearly Gates.” 

This fifth season could never win because it came on the heels of what will be the landmark stretch of Shameless in that fourth season. After Frank proclaimed himself alive to God in ‘Lazarus,’ there was nothing else to do.

And us viewers were spent anyway and couldn’t have stomached much more—a good coincidence, it turns out, for this fifth season had not much to offer early on.

So we sat on the porch, sipping on this flask of vodka, and waited for this wonderful show to recapture some of its magic. Boy, does it ever!

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Shameless, ‘Carl’s First Sentencing’ review: Death, taxes and Frank Gallagher

“You have not lived until you’ve heard the bones of your enemy crushed under 3,000 lbs. of Detroit steel.”

The world and the lives we live in it are both messy.

We make plans and have dreams, but those are constantly reassessed as the days, weeks, months and years pass by. Maybe one day you want to go to prom with this one guy, he asks you out and you say yes. Then at the prom, that one guy turns out to be a huge a-hole and sleeps with a friend of yours.

Until one day, you’re 32 and you decide that payback is due—breaking a nose never felt so right.

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Shameless, ‘Uncle Carl’ review: Run the dog over

“Because prison is no place for a man with naturally tight glutes.” 

Every dog has its day. You’re a wily veteran and know as much, but you also know that every good thing comes in due time.

You can’t try every trick on just anyone, the same way that you can’t precipitate things. It’s better to let the situation dictate your moves on any one caper, especially against a psychopath. 

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Shameless, ‘Tell Me You Fucking Need Me’ review: Escaping a fire

“Oh, there’s no catch. Just helping the youth of America get a leg up.” 

You let yourself believe for a second that maybe, just maybe, this time there will not be a line. No one could blame you—you walked in and saw just a few people standing against the wall. “No more than four or five, surely,” you maybe tell yourself, “this will be quick.”

You just had to wait two hours in another line, so you would need this to be a breeze. But alas, you turn the corner and there’s the line you dreaded.

But in college as in life, Lip, there’s always a line. You just learn to move from the back of one line to another. 

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Shameless, ‘Crazy Love’ review: School starts today?

“You did okay, Mickey. You know? You tried. That’s a lot more than what most people would do.” 

You look out of the window, because the alternative would be to look within and you would rather do just about anything over doing that.

You listen to Lip tell you something and you know he’s right, but that’s an emotion that you can’t really wrap your mind around right now. You think of Ian.

And how he (almost) got away. 

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Shameless, ‘Rites of Passage’ review: There’s no trailer

"It’s not who you bring to the dance. It’s who you leave with.” 

Fiona’s face said it all.

When she greeted that “big tipper” at the end of ‘Rites of Passage’ only to figure who was with her, her jaw just about dropped—only for Showtime to cut to black. Tune in next week, gents. Plenty more to see.

But if Fiona is anything like us viewers, then we know how she reacted. She probably smiled. 

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Shameless, ‘A Night To Remem—Wait, What?’ review: Nine days and 12 hours

“I think I overdid it last night. Celebrated my last day below the poverty line.” 

The setting was different, but the moment was essentially the same. Father and son had traded the dad’s wheelchair for the son’s walking aid. The Sterling Old Regal for the cheap wine. The bitterly cold of Lake Michigan for the warmth of a house’s porch.

But the moment was the same. The son, though older, was still mostly clueless about love and the ways of the heart—whereas he first received advice on how to optimally rid himself of a hardened itch, he now listened to his old man teach him the subtlety of the drug trade.

The father, meanwhile, was reflecting on how alive he felt—but it was less boisterous as it was in ‘Lazarus‘ and rather had an air of nostalgia.  

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Shameless, ‘The Two Lisas’ review: The invading hipster hordes

"I want to renew our vows. I want this to be our choice. I want to do it right.” 

The world around you is changing and this doesn’t sit well with you. You want to say something, not just in good fun as you’ve been doing, but something that comes from the depths of your soul. You’re tired of gentrification, because it destroys everything you know about the world. It hurts your heart to see your neighbourhood turn to crap. Can’t a good American man not just worry about his Milk of the Gods anymore?

You have to yell, but the only people you find to yell at are your wife and oldest daughter. You complain that the two lesbians are killing your world as you know it … until your world literally blows up.

Welcome to Shameless. 

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Shameless, ‘I’m the liver’ review: What’s the Burning Man?

"Look at that. A new day and I’m still alive. Life is good.” 

When you’re young, playing footsies seems like a good idea and your parents are the ones reigning you in. Mostly, it’s for their own benefit—footsies between youngsters can disturb the other (read: adults) who are just trying to live.

Then, you grow up and maybe the words of your parents stay with you. Or maybe it’s just that you know yourself well and you decide that no, you can’t play footsies at a 12-step meeting.

Oh, you say that you’ll think about it, but you know. 

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Shameless, ‘Milk of Gods’ review: Genetics Russian roulette

"I have no control over time anymore. But this, this will live on.” 

Summer is always like that. The desolation of winter has given way to the hope of spring, which has now actualized into… something. It’s not entirely, or necessarily good or bad, but it’s something. There’s a sort of finality to the season.

When you look ahead to summer, you dream of waking up every morning with the one you love, spooning. But then summer arrives and, though you’re spooning, it’s with Sheila. The one you love-ish. And there’s someone holding on to you!

But at least you’re spooning. 

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Shameless, ‘Lazarus’ review: Native American kids

"She doesn’t want to have sex. Something about her mom’s old boyfriend being in a biker gang.” 

And so the prophecy of theShameless Bible dictated that on the 12th episode of the fourth season, Frank Gallagher would walk, or rather wheel himself, or rather have his young son wheel him, to the frozen Lake Michigan. There, he would take the bottle, or rather have said son give it to him, and he would stand up and proclaim himself alive, all with the gorgeous Chicago skyline in the background. Because, against all odds except for his own, he is still alive. Frank is still here, you fucker. “Frank Gallagher. I’m alive!”

He is all of us viewers. After a seminal season 4, and a very solid finale, we’re defiant. “That all you got, John Wells? That’s it?! We’re not crying! We’ve cried in ‘There’s The Rub,’ in ‘Iron City‘ too and again in ‘The Legend of Bonnie and Carl,’ but you’re off in ‘Lazarus’. We’re not fuckin’ crying!” Just then, Frank shows just the most fleeting hint of regret. Of shame. He made it but at what cost, he seems to think.

Well, you’ve got us yet again, you fucker.

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Shameless, ‘Emily’ review: Ruby Tuesdays

"That doesn’t mean I’m going to wear a dress.” 

Everywhere she looked, it was ugly. Obviously, this bus wasn’t “a sightseeing bus,” because sightseeing tends to be a treat for sore eyes. Fiona was heading to jail, and there was “nothing to see here,” like that old police cliché they use in movies.

This ‘Emily’ episode of Shamelessmight as well have been a sightseeing bus for the viewer. Not all of it was pretty, really, but with television the most impressive is often the scariest, most touching and the saddest.

And Mickey’s coming-out party was all of the above and much, much more. 

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Shameless, ‘Liver, I Hardly Know Her’ review: Rural charm

"A transplant, that’s a major medical procedure. This guy is a dealer I met in a parking lot after a Fish concert.” 

The man was just a cab driver, but so what? The man used to be a surgeon, or so he said, and for Sheila and Sammi “used to be” is the next best thing to “is.” That’s all the time they (read: Frank) had anyway.

The two ARE Shameless, the show. They don’t necessarily doubt what another person tells them, and it’s the way that this show treats its characters. Contempt? No. Passing judgment? Neither. All Shameless characters are just humans. And sometimes, they’re cab drivers. 

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Shameless, ‘The Legend of Bonnie and Carl’ review: Black and blue balls

"I can almost taste the garbage- and urine-scented air.” 

 ‘The Legend of Bonnie and Carl’ is a racetrack that brings the viewers along for the run on snow that Fiona makes. (Hey, there’s that reminder that she did run track in high school.) It’s not an episode that’s as gut wrenching as ‘There’s The Rub‘ or as ‘Iron City‘ were, because it couldn’t possibly be, but by the end of the episode we know that it’s a war with plenty of battles.

We’re Fiona. We’re overwhelmed and we just want to know what in the hell exactly happened.

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Shameless, ‘Hope Springs Paternal’ review: Palace of terror or temple of learning?

"It has to be a penis. With a man attached.”

‘Hope Springs Paternal’ brings the viewer along for quite the ride. By the end of the hour, we’re like Kevin. We can’t quite believe/accept/understand just what a messed up world is that of Shamelessand that we get to live in it.

But unlike Kevin, we’ll never buy guns. Never. 

This week, showrunner John Wells creates an hour of television that lives up to its name. There sure is plenty of hope.

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Shameless, ‘A Jailbird, Invalid, Cutter, Retard And Parasitic Twin’ review: Hipsters in a dorm

"I couldn’t protect my triplets in utero, you better be damn sure I’ll protect my twins in the real world.”

The thing about life is, and this indeed talking meta, there’s always a morning after. There’s always a time when you wake up, when you have time to finally process everything that’s happened. And good Lord is there a lot for her to recap.

Once again this week, us viewers feel like Fiona. We’re waking up in the same bed that we always have but it’s weird because it comes just after the very best and most powerful of Shameless‘s life. But still, we wake up. We were eager to see where the show would take us after ‘Iron City,’ and it turns out we’re right back where we started. In our own bed, our own house and with the rest of the Gallaghers. Now, we only need to get rid of that damn admissions bracelet. These things are always so hard to rip off, and you just can’t ever flush them down.

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Shameless, ‘Iron City’ review: Acute cocaine toxicity

"I brought you some Ramen, too. I'm out of cajun chicken so I brought smoked ham." 

When Fiona arrives at the Gallagher household, she's all alone as she has been during the entire hour of 'Iron City.' She is home, but there's no housewarming—there shouldn't be either, for the lone reason why she was even away is that she was in jail and had a $10,000 bail. But she is home, all alone and with a blank expression on her face. Lost in the world.

We, the viewers, are Fiona in 'Iron City.' We've watched what very well may be the show's best episode yet—really, this was one spectacular hour of television—and we're all alone. We've got a blank look on our faces. We're lost in the Shameless world.

And it's a wonderful, yet so deeply depressing, world to lose yourself into. 

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Shameless, ‘There’s the Rub’ review: No distractions

"If it wasn’t sex then, what was the problem?  -Everything else.” 

That was worse than a stomach punch. A stomach punch is unexpected and sudden, but us viewers saw this one coming from a mile away. And that we knew Liam would be the one to take the biggest hit didn’t make things easier. It actually made it worse, way worse.

The Rub in the fourth season of Shameless is that while the Gallaghers have grown, they’ve mostly just grown apart from one another. They haven’t really grown up.

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