Shameless, ‘My Oldest Daughter’: Just doing me, amigo.

“I have a quiz in 15 minutes. I need time to study.”

Maybe she shouldn’t have let Carl bring the blood samples test home, that’s probably what the nurse is telling herself. Once she sees, or rather realizes, what exactly it is that he’s holding in that bag, she probably is wishing that she had proceeded differently.

The ploy that Carl used to get a blood sample of Fiona is disturbing, gross and funny all at once—but almost adorably, it totally makes sense.

That’s the Gallagher way.

If the final image of ‘My Oldest Daughter’ is the reveal from showrunner Paul Abbott that Frank Gallagher (played by William H. Macy) has an “oldest daughter,” the lasting image was that of the nurse at that hospital doing her best to help Carl (played by Ethan Cutkosky) figure out if his siblings could be a match for his father.

It’s all an approximation on Shameless. Everything about jobs, relationships and Gallagher family breakfasts is a close enough approximation of a healthy working, love and family life. Are the Gallaghers living under a rock, as the doctor thinks? Not quite, but it’s not far off. But the Gallaghers are living together (minus Lip and Ian and plus Frank, of course), and they’re a family. Through and through.

Sometimes, you rub one off in math class and your dad tells you that he’s really “proud of you, son,” because what other choice does he have? He’s dying, and if he’s dying that means he has nothing else on his mind but to find a way to survive until that next hit, that next high. (He really has nothing to learn from the Bubbles’s and Fat Curt’s of the universes of, respectively, The Wire and The Corner.)

Sometimes, there’s “nothing we can do unless somebody wants to give me their liver,” and that’s all that Carl needs to hear. Frank’s  son quickly establishes which drugs may be of use for his father (i.e. “yes” to just about everything, including slizzurp that he’s “always wanted to try”), and he’s proud of him. He accepts to help his old man, but really it could be anyone—all Frank wants is his drugs to help him wean himself from alcohol. Is that fatherly love? Perhaps, so long as it gets him high.

Because that’s the one thing with him. “He’s made his choices,” Frank has. He might be an absolute train wreck of a man and a sorry excuse of a father, but every single thing that Frank does comes from a choice he, and no one but he, has made.

Sometimes, Stan is dead and has only ever mentioned that he had a daughter, but it’s his son Alan who shows up at the bar to see through his dying wishes—because of course it is. And then you realize that you have not ”looked at the books lately” and that the Alibi Room isn’t the 21st century El Dorado and rather, looks more and more like fool’s gold. And that would make you that fool—but how can a fool have a “magic penis”? Because really, how can you be expecting triplets now, if not for a magic penis?

(In all seriousness, it seems like season 4 might be the time when Veronica (played by Shanola Hampton) and Kevin (played by Steve Howey) manage to step out of the shadow of being only neighbours of the Gallagher family and get a narrative of their own. It’s well deserved, as us viewers are a bit like Fiona (played by Emmy Rossum). We need to believe that this kind of love is still possible, even in the Shameless world.)

Sometimes, you just can’t wait to grow up and think it’s unfair that you still haven’t gotten your period.

You’re just a teenager and you’re gullible so you listen to just about anyone who looks like she knows what she’s talking about.

But you don’t listen, because you think he might be a classy guy. Or is he? You’re Debbie (played by Emma Kenney) and in ‘Simple Pleasures‘ you weren’t even sure which one you were supposed to like. It turns out you chose the classy one, because he sure does “have a condom in his wallet.” And yet, you can’t help but think that maybe you have a very different definition of the word classy. Classy is not him being 20 years old and you, only 13.

(And sometimes, judging from Debbie running to her room when she comes back home, you, the viewer, are wrong. And that, truly, is a deeply disturbing sight because of what it suggest our 20-year-old creeper may have done.)

Sometimes, you have no clue what you’re doing. You think that you probably love Fiona, but you know that you can’t possibly tell her that. So instead you tell her to call you in the evening, and of course she doesn’t. You’re Mike (played by Jake McDorman), and you’re just mixing everything—work, fun, love, sex, life, everything. Fiona has proved willing to screw the hand that pays her in theseason opener, and you in turn decide that you may one day want to put a ring on her hand. Then she lies to you, and because it’s the grownup thing to do you hold firm on that belief of yours that confidence is absolutely paramount to the health of your relationship—anyway, you know there’s no way you’ll find yourself on the business end of Fiona’s baseball bat.

You just put all your eggs in the one basket, but Fiona doesn’t know how to walk around eggshells. How could you say no to her?

Sometimes you have a moment of clarity and realize that is why you went to college. But before that, it’s all been the same. College is harder than high school, and the two G’s in your life that used to come so easily (i.e. grades and girls) suddenly have abandoned you. They’ve abandoned you, but not completely. You’re Lip (played by Jeremy Allen White) and you’re used to nothing but excellence, but you understand that girls and grades are like icebergs—if you’re willing to venture just a bit further down, you’ll see girls and grades that you had never seen before. And there’s no shame in being content with them.

Then one day, you’re just talking to the pretty blond and realize that she is your T.A. And because she’s going to the party, you decide that you just might want to go as well, only to realize that she wants to talk to the boy with the plaid shirt from 1994, Charlie. Then you realize that you have absolutely no reason to be at that party. Oops, not true! You actually have a reason to stay, until grad school even!

These are the hard lessons of life that you can only learn in college.