Shameless, ‘Simple Pleasures’ review: Artichoke Jalapeno dip

"No nuts in the soy cheese pizza, but I can’t promise the cook didn’t put his nuts on the cheese pizza.”

The new season starts with a new day, because everything always starts with a new day for the Gallaghers. It’s a Sunday morning, and it’s the scene that us viewers have grown so accustomed to by now. Fiona wakes up and makes the rounds, waking every one of her siblings/children (i.e. sheis their legal guardian after all!) and—wait, is that Debbie? Putting makeup and doing her hair? #NailsDoneHairDone?

When ‘Simple Pleasures’ starts, everything seems a bit off and a bit different. Gone are Lip (i.e. to college),  Ian (i.e. to the army, though no one knows) and Frank (i.e. to a ditch, somewhere, maybe). The Gallaghers have their morning breakfast the same way that they always have it, “together” but not actually together. But it seems different, because of who’s missing.

That fear is for naught, as showrunner Paul Abbott wastes no time in letting us viewers know that while there are changes in this fourth season, the universe of Shameless remains very much the same if you look close enough. The viewers know this universe and that this world has one rule and one rule only. If you’re wondering whether the show will “go there,” know that it will. Always.

‘Simple Pleasures’ has simple surprises for the Gallaghers. First it’s Fiona (played by Emmy Rossum), who’s dumbfounded to know that there’s a Chicago Bears player named after a fridge. (But at least she doesn’t wear the Jay Cutler jersey!) The surprises don’t end there either, with Fiona learning that sometimes it’s best not to screw the hand that pays you. She’s been working at Worldwide Cup for three months now, meaning that she has to have “that 401k talk.” But she’s intent on having a different kind of talk, the one where she’s on all fours and can’t walk straight the next morning, so Fiona decides to take matters into her own hands—but it leaves her disappointed.

After a lifetime of idiots, washouts, virgin(s) and liars, Mike (played by Jake McDorman) is probably precisely who the doctor ordered for Fiona, but she doesn’t care. The doctor never ordered having sex in the drive-thru line at Wendy’s, and yet Fiona sure did that. Twice!

There’s a surprise for Lip (played by Jeremy Allen White), too. He’s left the Gallagher household, again, but for college this time. Most assume that he’s “off doing good,” but that’s simplifying it. While he most likely is doing some good in some way (come on! you thought of it too!! These reviews may as well be shameless themselves), Lip realizes that the college life isn’t what he expected. Namely, Lip can’t coast to the finish line. If you coast, and smoke, and give snarky comments to the students in line at the cafeteria as you give them their food for dinner, then you get a D.

There’s also a surprise for Debbie (played by Emma Kenney), who wakes up that Sunday morning determined to help her puberty arrive–naturally, or not. After a few close calls in the previous seasons, and a few spilled Heinz ketchup packets, Debbie is embracing her newfound adolescence. Her older sister is telling her that she “may be overdressed for a Sunday morning,” but Debbie knows—Sunday morning is the time to do it up. If it’s the time that The Wire‘s Omar Little can take his grandma to the church, then it’s the time for Debbie’s pressing matters.

While Debbie can’t seem to wait before growing up, compromising her morals along the way, this doesn’t mean that she’ll compromise her business acumen. “You can only sell it once,” she says, speaking of you know what. “That makes it an extremely rare commodity. Scarcity equals value. Basic economics.” Debbie can’t wait to grow up already, and viewers get the sense that she’s really just following in Fiona’s footsteps from a few years prior. She’s late-night texting, like her sister, and late-night kissing, like her sister. Debbie is Fiona, all the way down to her contempt for her father.

Carl (played by Ethan Cutkosky), too, gets a surprise but not until the next morning, and it’s the kind of surprise that keeps your roommate up all night and for which there’s only one solution. He is becoming increasingly like his father, asking for anyone else but him to get the door even though he’s standing but a few feet away from it and busy with a whole lot of nothing. He’s living by one rule, which is to actively pursuit the option that will demand that he exerts as little energy and effort as possible while having as much fun as he can.

If I didn’t know Frank (played by William H. Macy) any better, I’d say that hissurprise is to realize that some member of the Gallagher family still loves him. But no. Frank knows he has Carl in his back pocket and though he’s about one 6-pack away from death, it doesn’t mean that he can’t have just one sip from one beer. Or one IV. Or one of just about anything that can lit him up for one second. As a token of appreciation for Carl’s help, he teaches him about what he knows best–the matters of the palms and the inner thighs.

Speaking of, the Gallagher neighbours, Kevin (played by Steve Howey) and Veronica (played by Shanola Hampton), also have a surprise…pregnancy in ’Simple Pleasures.’ It can’t change the fact that they still had that threesome with V’s mother, and that V’s mother is pregnant with Kev’ and V’s baby, and that it’s about to become incredibly complicated. But Kev’ chooses to overlook it. At least for now.

Yep. Shameless is back.