Sunday, October 16, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona Bails Her Siblings Out of Trouble as Frank Forms a New Family in 'Home Sweet Homeless Shelter'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 7.03 "Home Sweet Homeless Shelter"

Kev, V and Svetlana start a topless maid service. At the shelter, Frank makes new friends to replace his old family - leading them to a for-sale house converted into the Gallagher Home for the Homeless. Debbie's new lifestyle comes to an abrupt end. Carl gets a syphilis scare. Ian struggles with a breakup. With Fiona on the run to clean up after her siblings, business at Patsy's hits the skids.

At the very start of Shameless, it was a show about family unity. The Gallagher siblings needed to rely on each other. They needed to stay together in order to survive. That family bond was so powerful. No matter what crazy things happened, they knew they could always count on their siblings to be there for them. That has changed somewhat over the years. As the Gallaghers have grown up, they've matured and tried to step out of the family. The love for each other is still present. The family will always be there for each other in the Gallagher house. But each sibling has their own dreams and ambitions in life. And now, all of them are just starting to realize how much hard work they all need to do in order to just have a sliver of success. The siblings have had their victories in the past. But every time they get something right, they then make a massive mistake that sends them right back down to where they started. It's a familiar pattern for the show. One that can become monotonous. But this episode has a nice "back to basics" feel to it that is very appreciated.

Fiona doesn't want to care for the rest of the family. She wants to have that burden lifted off of her shoulders. She was forced to grow up very quickly because she needed to be a mother to her siblings. But now, they've grown as well. They don't need her to care for them the same way as before. In the past, Fiona has filled that void by focusing on relationships. That hasn't gone so well. It took her away from the house and the family in times when they really needed some support. And now, she's back with an intense focus on her job at Patsy's and random hook ups with strangers. This story could suffer from being too repetitive or trying to revert back to characteristics that Fiona has outgrown over the years. And yet, it mostly works. Whether she likes it or not, she will still drop everything and run to her siblings whenever they are in trouble. However, Liam is the only one where she really has to do that. Fiona needs to be there for him otherwise Frank is his only role model - which isn't something to be desired.

And yet, Fiona finds herself needing to bail Debbie out of trouble and convincing Ian that he needs to take some time off from work. That shows that there are still consequences in their individual stories. It wasn't clear what exactly the show was hoping to do with Debbie stealing strollers. Now, she upgrades her crime to shoplifting. That's what gets her caught right away. Hopefully, this is a wake up call that this behavior could ultimately be the thing that takes her away from Harriet. Meanwhile, it's so great that the show is recommitted to dealing with Ian's bipolar disorder. It doesn't need to be the sole thing that defines him on the show. But it did basically just disappear last season with no big moment that told the audience that he was managing his disease the way he should be. It's very understandable that all the stress from his breakup with Caleb affects his mood and the effectiveness of his medication. It's a tricky balance that needs to be under constant monitoring. And now, he's in a high stress job that could have dangerous consequences. He is in a bit of a manic state in this episode. That's abundantly clear and it leads to him making an error in judgment during a call. A woman almost dies because of him. But it's also clear that this isn't the setup for an even further fall.

All of the Gallaghers need to accept that they need to put in the constant and hard work in order to make something of their lives. Ian can't get upset over being asked to end his shift early. It's a miracle he still has that job. He needs to get right in order to still have it in the future. He can't make a big scene. This is something he needs to do. Meanwhile, Lip's job may be demeaning. He is literally changing out bags of pee because his boss is playing a video game non-stop. It's beneath him. But this is the reality of an unpaid internship. This is the best that he could get after he was expelled from college. It still took a personal favor from the professor in order to make this happen. He can't be upset that he's not learning anything. This is something he has to accept and take just in the hopes that it will lead to something better in the future. And lastly, Fiona wants to keep Patsy's afloat. Without her staying on as manager, Margot was going to shut the place down and redevelop the building. Fiona needs to make something of this place. She has already implemented some changes. But that's not enough to make this place better. She can't put one of the new hires in charge whenever she needs to leave to deal with her family. She needs to be there putting in the work to make it a better business. The family is dividing her attention and keeping her from embracing the future. A future better than the present has always been an option for the other siblings. So why can't it be one for Fiona too?

Fiona calling a family meeting in order to get the siblings to start paying to live in the house again is a fantastic closing moment. This family unit used to work so effectively when they were raising money for the squirrel fund. The demands of living in this house haven't changed at all. But there is still a bit more seriousness to this pledge as well. The siblings have changed since the early days of finding creative solutions to fix their problems. They have better jobs and have suffered some crushing defeats. And now, Fiona needs all of them to be accountable for their own actions. She can't continue bailing them out whenever they get into trouble. She still does that for Debbie here. She doesn't have the two thousand dollars to pay for the stolen clothes. So, she finds a creative solution for the problem by saying Debbie is mentally disabled. It shows that Fiona is still a Gallagher at heart even though she wants to be taken more seriously as a businesswoman now. Plus, it's a very effective moment when Fiona asks her siblings to put her lower on their emergency contact lists. She's trying to build a business. She can't do that if she still has to care for her siblings. They are old enough now to care for themselves - except for Liam, of course. Fiona will still be there for them. But now, the family needs to be unified in a way that is similar to the past while also adjusting to how things have changed since then.

Frank needs family too. He has done good things for his kids over the years. But he has made each of their lives significantly worse. They are done with him completely. He has always taken comfort out of being able to return to the Gallagher home. And now, whenever he shows up, he is violently thrown out. He seems to have gotten the message and is now living in a homeless shelter. It's there where he gets the idea to form a new family to replace the old one. The people at the shelter are more than willing to accept his creative spirit. He is able to provide for them in the way they desperately need right now. Frank's real kids no longer have any need for him. Meanwhile, this new family needs his guidance. Of course, it's only a matter of time before he screws all of this up because he succumbs to his narcissistic impulses. It's a pattern he has been unable to break over the years. Plus, Frank stories are often at their best when they are somehow affecting his kids. The ending of this episode shows that Frank's new makeshift homeless shelter is just down the street from the Gallagher home. But it's hard to see how any of them will want to become a part of this new life. Perhaps they'll need to in order to rip Liam away from Frank.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Home Sweet Homeless Shelter" was written by Krista Vernoff and directed by Iain MacDonald.
  • At first, it didn't seem like Lip learned anything from rehab. He did the program and got the chips. But he's not going to meetings and he's still drinking. He just now has a system that he is working very carefully. But now, he makes it known that he does have regrets for not facing up to his problems sooner. He knows he ruined a good thing and will now have to work even harder to get what he ultimately wants.
  • Carl's story this season has been so odd and comedy driven. Now, he faces a gonorrhea scare because Dom's father is ready to kill him for giving it to Dom. But that only reveals that Dom has been cheating on Carl with a college guy. It's great to watch Carl and Dom's father team up to take this fraternity down. But it's also such a minor part of this episode as well.
  • Dom wasn't Carl's first love but she was his first real and genuine relationship. It was a good thing for him. And yet, he followed the typical Gallagher pattern of falling in love too fast. He was so serious with her. He got circumcised for her. And now, it's devastating to learn that she hasn't been faithful.
  • When was the last time all of the Gallagher siblings were single? Never? This feels like a miracle. It could also force all of them to take a good hard look at their lives and what they are willing to do in order to get what they want. Of course, they all still enjoy casual hookups.
  • Svetlana's father shows up and she expects Kev and V to be cool with him living with them for awhile. He sold his daughter into sex slavery. And now, he's just a part of a light and breezy plot where it's a joke that V sees his penis several times. It's odd and very introductory.
  • Kev learns that his topless maids business doesn't even need to actually do that work. He can just drive the truck around and get paid by people to remove its graphic content from their neighborhoods.
  • This season opened on Frank having a dream while he was in a coma. And now, he has another vivid dream about his children ripping him apart. It's becoming a pattern for him this year. Should anything be read into that?