Sunday, November 20, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona, Lip & Debbie's Lives Hit Their Breaking Points in 'You Sold Me the Laundromat, Remember?'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 7.08 "You Sold Me the Laundromat, Remember?"

Fiona takes a DIY approach to renovating the laundromat. Lip agrees to go before the school board in hopes of getting reinstated. Kev's trust in Svetlana wanes even further when the van goes missing.

All of the Gallaghers seem to be struggling with the weight and consequences of their past actions. No matter how much they may have changed or want to be better people now, they are still defined by what they did previously. Sometimes that is a good thing. Fiona needs to remember all of the good times she's had with Kev and V in order to get help renovating the laundromat. But most of the time, the past is very bad for the Gallaghers. Lip self-destructed at college. He believes he has changed now and has an opportunity to appeal the school's decision to expel him. But the desire to be better doesn't change the actions from the past. Similarly, Debbie can't just make nice with Derek's family in the hopes of getting them on her side if family services questions them. She has made this life for herself. And now, she has to accept the consequences. Decisions have formed these characters into the people they are today. Fiona and Ian can be proud of what they have right now even if they are struggling to maintain their happiness. Meanwhile, Lip and Debbie are left even more devastated as they both face very uncertain futures.

Lip has been very stable as a character struggling with alcoholism this season. He refuses to admit that he has the disease. He knows he has a problem. One that ruined his life at college. A life that he and his family worked so hard for him to have in the first place. But it's not enough to get him to stop drinking altogether. He's been able to keep control over his life this season by only drinking in moderation. The other characters know he has a problem but they believe he has it under control. Except he doesn't really. He has done nothing to address the underlying issues that led to his violent and erratic actions on the college campus. He's been stable but that doesn't mean he's healthy. Professor Youens believes Lip can make this appeal now because he is better. He doesn't want to see that great mind go to waste as a dishwasher. It takes a lot of convincing for Lip to even go to this review board. He's done with college. He no longer sees it as something he needs to do. And yet, he gets excited about it once more. Youens gets his hopes up and Lip puts in the effort to look like a changed man who regrets his past actions.

It takes so much for Lip to admit that he has problems. He's dealing with the consequences of his actions. It's huge for him to realize that he is just like Frank. He has a great mind but a horrible drinking problem that cripples him from ever leaving the Gallagher neighborhood. He believes he has a changed. But the true test comes from how he reacts to learning the board does not change their decision about his academic future. They won't let him come back to school and they won't get rid of these incidents on his record. Nothing has changed but Lip got his hopes up. And thus, he falls off the wagon. He looses control once more. He destroys his life just like he has done before. He drinks and ruins every happy thing he had going for him this season. He gets into a fight with Sierra's baby daddy. That's enough for Sierra to realize just how troubled Lip is. He may be kind and compassionate. But he is an addict as well. She can't have that in her life right now as she's struggling to get by. So, Lip is once again all alone and drunk. His family will always be there for him. But he even seems to push them away. When he sobers up, he'll have to make some big decisions about his future. He has to be the one to step up and change. To do that, he'll need some purpose. It's just unclear when or if that will ever come or if he's destined to be just like Frank forever.

Debbie undergoes a similar crisis. She wants to do everything right so that she can keep Franny. Her intentions are pure and genuine. She wants to provide for her daughter. And yet, she's not a great mom. She feels trapped in her life even though she's completely responsible for everything that has happened to her. She wants to maintain an allusion of happiness but she's not willing to put in the actual work. She wants Fiona to tell family services that she has a job at the laundromat. When Fiona wants to put her to work, Debbie doesn't actually want to do it. That polarity is very stark. Debbie wants a happy family. She is working so hard to create that picture. But ultimately, none of it is very real. She's delusional to her own situation. Much like Sierra, she wants to be on good terms with the family of her child's father. She wants Derek and his family to be in Franny's life. Debbie wants to put aside her feelings in order to get these people on her side. She's completely clueless to how they really feel about her though. Derek's sister and mother see Debbie as the girl who tried to trap Derek in a horrible situation. She's still trying to do that as well. Debbie believes all she has to do is show up with a cute baby and all of her problems will be fixed. It's never as simple as that as she soon finds out.

Again, it's ultimately about how the Gallagher siblings react when their lives go horribly awry. Debbie believes she has won over Derek's family. But all she has done is shown them that they need to intervene for Franny's sake. Sure, it could technically be seen as kidnapping. That's how Debbie sees it. Franny is stolen from her. But she ruins her case of being a fit mother by showing up at their home screaming death threats if they don't return Franny to her. It's a horrifying moment. It feels like a true rock bottom moment for Debbie. She was motivated into action by the threat of family services taking Franny away from her. But now, it's clear that wasn't the real threat she had to worry about. She's made so many bad decisions over the past few seasons. It's unclear if she'll ever be about to rebound from all of these mistakes. This is a low point for her. Will it be a humbling experience though? This is a situation of her own making. She has to deal with the consequences. But the Gallaghers have never been all that great at accepting the repercussions of their actions and figuring out how to do better. They typically find a way to get what they want without needing to change at all. That could be so devastating to Debbie. She could loose Franny for a long time. It will be hard to argue why she deserves to have Franny living with her after this latest outburst. But that devastation will likely keep Debbie from seeing things clearly for a long time.

Meanwhile, Fiona has done her fair share of pushing people away as well. She believes she can only succeed as a businesswoman if she isolates herself. She doesn't want anything to distract her from her business ambitions. That has allowed her to succeed with Patsy's. It's not how she's going to succeed with the laundromat. It was such a foolish decision for her to stick with buying the business despite all of the problems last week. It would feel false if everything suddenly worked out for her. That's basically what happens in this episode. And yet, it doesn't feel as bad or problematic as it could. It's all because of Kev too. The rift between Fiona and V has led to Kev, V and Svetlana stories feeling isolated from the rest of the show. But here, Kev bridges the divide by asking Fiona for advice now that he's falling out of love with Svetlana. It's a strong conversation where the two finally open up to each other again. Fiona doesn't understand Kev and V's arrangement with Svetlana. Nor does she shy away from sharing her opinion on Svetlana. But she is there as a support system for Kev. He's there for her as well. The ceiling is literally falling down on her. The problems of this laundromat are just too great for her to deal with on her own. She needs help but she's too stubborn to ask for it. She believes she can scrap all the tile up herself. It's the only way she won't loose money on this investment. It's up to Kev to reach out and offer a helping hand. It's an offer she accepts. It doesn't mend things between Fiona and V. Plus, it leads to Kev sleeping on the Gallagher couch. But now, it's understandable that the laundromat may succeed. Fiona needs to be a shark in business. However, that doesn't mean she needs to push away help when she desperately needs it the most. She's willing to admit and appreciate that. She has the maturity to see that unlike Lip and Debbie.

Some more thoughts:
  • "You Sold Me the Laundromat, Remember?" was written by Krista Vernoff and directed by Allison Lidd-Brown.
  • Frank does a lot to actually help his family for once. He helps Fiona at the laundromat and fixes a bunch of problems at the house. He expects his family to welcome him back with open arms. And yet, that doesn't just erase all of the previous times he has hurt his kids. He still ends up with a bed somehow. So he won't learn from any of this.
  • Of course, Frank helping the family often comes at the expense of someone else. He's still screwing the folks at the homeless shelter he founded. Plus, he could be taking advantage of Etta now. The homeless are able to fight back because they remember what he did. Etta probably won't.
  • Nothing is really happening with Ian right now. He's the stable and supportive sibling in a healthy relationship. It's a nice change of pace that actually works. Of course, he's not able to completely avoid the chaos. He still has to keep Frank out of the house.
  • Kev worries that V is starting to love Svetlana more than him. He believes that they are making all of the household decisions and shutting him out completely. That's what makes it so easy for him to defy V's order to not reach out to Fiona.
  • It's clear that Debbie still wants Derek to come back to Chicago and be a part of her happy family with Franny. She claims to love Neil. But he gets tossed aside when the potential for Derek to return appears.