Sunday, February 21, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - The Gallaghers Move Back into the House But Not Everything is the Same in 'Pimp's Paradise'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 6.07 "Pimp's Paradise"

Carl struggles with Nick's absence, inviting his friends to the Gallagher home for a party. Frank and Queenie rule the house.

This season of Shameless has felt really aimless. There hasn't been a consistent enough hook to really bring all the stories together in a way that is more enriching for the entire Gallagher family. At first, it seemed as if losing the family house would be that hook. But the show quickly undid that story. And now, the family is back in the house acting like nothing really happened. All of this has kept the show from really coming together this year. The big focus has been on Fiona as she realizes that she's now at the point in her life where she doesn't need to be in her siblings' daily lives. It's the exact kind of thing she was doing last season. But now, it's suppose to be meaningful because she has Sean by her side telling her that it's fine. He is fully aware of the chaotic life Fiona has been living for a long time. Gus never was and that's why her being away from her family was a bad thing last season. Her siblings are still messed up this year. And yet, she's suppose to be okay because she can escape the chaos to the comfort of a really strong relationship.

The only big development to come out of the Gallaghers getting their house back is Fiona being kicked out. The family moves back in. Carl takes it as an opportunity to completely redecorate the place as his own personal crib. The family builds their new lives in this house all before Fiona ever returns home. She's not safe in this environment. Debbie is. She doesn't even know that they have the house back for the longest time. And yet, she still has a place to sleep there. Everyone has already figured that Fiona has moved on with her life. She was the one who fought the hardest to keep this place. She did everything she could in order to buy the house back in her name. She's responsible for this place now. She owns it. But that doesn't make her a better leader or parent for the family. She's still making mistakes just like she has always done. This time though Carl and Frank have taken over. It strangely makes her willing to leave this place permanently. She officially moves in with Sean. That's a good thing for their relationship. But it could still signal dangerous things for the future as everyone else chooses not to follow her.

Fiona has been looking after her siblings for a decade now. She has gotten used to the chaos. It's how she knows how to operate in this world. She is lost without it. She doesn't know how to act when it's just her and Sean in the silence of first waking up in the morning with no one else in his apartment. She's not completely comfortable in his world yet. She enjoys this relationship. Sean even proves himself to be a great paternal figure to Carl in this episode. It's fantastic when he goes to Carl and is able to connect with him in a way that Fiona can't. Fiona has been doing things for so long with this family. Her tactics need to change because everyone is getting older. Everyone else has something in their own lives that is theirs. She doesn't need to look out for them the same way that she use to. She's still in that mentality though. Some distance from the family could be a good thing. Or it could further prove how much this family needs Fiona and how that necessity will keep Fiona from finding any lasting maturity or happiness in her own life.

Right now though, Carl does need help. He saw something horrifying that will scar him for the rest of his life. His friend, Nick, did this terrible thing. And now, he is lost in this world without him. He can still surround himself with a bunch of friends and luxuries. But that's not helping him deal with this trauma. Carl just doesn't know what to do. That is a fascinating story in this episode. He reaches out to the family of the dead boy in the only way he knows how - with a sympathy card filled with hundreds of dollars and drugs. It rightfully gets a door slammed in his face. But it's a genuine reaction on Carl's part. He sees drugs as a way to make money. That's the only way he sees it right now. It's the only way he knows how to reach out. Fiona just doesn't see how much he is struggling right now. She wants to blame Nick for all of Carl's problems. Sean digs deeper than that. He reaches out in the right way. Carl still chooses to stay at his new crib. But it is compelling that Sean and Carl are forming a connection. He can be there for the young Gallagher if he actually needs someone to listen to all he has been through lately.

The other three Gallagher siblings continue to have very weird stories in "Pimp's Paradise." Apparently, all of the Gallaghers know that Fiona has bought back the house except Debbie. No one figures to let her know that she can return home and not have to seduce Erica. It's all for the joke of Debbie being unsure of what to do with the mechanics of lesbian sex and her getting ready to do it right before Frank sends that text. It's basically the show throwing away common sense plotting for a joke. It's just really noticeable and it's just not interesting watching Debbie pretend to be a lesbian. Meanwhile, Lip is just lingering in his emotions following his sudden and public breakup with Helene. Him loosing his dorm room would have carried more weight if he didn't have a place to go back to. He knows he can go back to the Gallagher home. So, that makes this story really hollow. It could be interesting that he is now the house boy for a college sorority. But it's still just a story about a lot of girls wanting to sleep with him while he's more interesting in getting drunk and stalking Helene. And lastly, Ian's story with Caleb continues to be so problematic. It's basically undercutting everything at the essence of his character for the past five seasons. It's fine that the show wants him to mature a little bit more. That would have been very difficult to do with Mickey. But the comparison is still pretty stark and unnecessary. Ian is committed to this new relationship but not to becoming a firefighter or paramedic. Honestly, those should be reversed. Right now, it's just hard to take it all that seriously because it no longer feels like it's Ian doing these things.

And finally, Frank has reconnected with Sammi's mother, Queenie. They make their presence together known throughout the entire house. And yet, they've also symbolically become the parental figures of the household once more. Carl doesn't take that seriously while Ian and Lip are busy with their own lives elsewhere. Right now, it's just Debbie who is falling under their influence. That's very dangerous. She is so susceptible at the moment. She was willing to do whatever it took to continue living with Erica. And now, she will just blindly listen to everything that Queenie says about childbirth because she's supportive and seems like she knows a lot. Queenie is very encouraging of the life that Frank is living. She is drawn to him yet again even though she knows just how horrible the two of them were together. She only came back for Chuckie to have a positive influence in his life again. And now, she has been sucked into the Gallagher world completely. It makes it easy for Fiona to get out of the house. But things are only going to get more tragic once Queenie leaves and Frank and Debbie have to deal with these complicated emotions without her.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Pimp's Paradise" was written by Dominique Morisseau and directed by Peter Segal.
  • Kev and V's refugee kids make the move to their more permanent home. It's such a brief moment saying goodbye to them after how important they were to V for the last two episodes. Also, Kev really wasn't a part of that story at all.
  • The bigger Kev and V story here is about him trying to treat her to a relaxing vacation at a hotel away from the city. It's largely just something for them to do. And I guess his guilt over Yanis' death has gone away? It's weird. Also, why would Kev ask Svetlana to look after Amy and Gemma instead of Carol?
  • Svetlana is more than capable of looking after the Alibi all by herself. But it largely just presents an opportunity for the show to go for big laughs with Svetlana doing DIY dental surgery on Tommy in the bathroom.
  • All of the stuff about Chuckie doing a book report on Mein Kampf was a little much. It could have used some comedic tightening. The scene where Frank and Queenie go down to the school could have been condensed. Though it was amusing to see his fellow students' reactions once he finished reading his report.
  • Another problem with Ian's story is that all of the gay judgment and hate at the wedding was too broad. It just felt too familiar and not original enough to justify the amount of time being spent on it.
  • It's also somewhat annoying that all of Carl's relentless pursuing of Dominique earlier this season is started to win her over. Now, she notices when he doesn't say anything to her. She liked the attention too much. More importantly, it's suppose to be meaningful that she is there to comfort him with Nick gone.
  • Is Lip becoming too much like Frank now? He is selfishly drinking and making a mess out of the lives of the people around him. He's still a functioning adult and in good standing at school. But if he keeps this lifestyle up, he could find himself ruining this really good thing for him.