Sunday, November 24, 2019

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Debbie Hurts Numerous People With No Real Consideration for Her Actions in 'Which America?'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 10.03 "Which America?"

Liam gets to know his newfound family members. Frank revels in his new position in the Gallagher house. Lip looks for support as the pressures of fatherhood take their toll. Ian and Mickey make a decision about their future. Carl tries to woo Anne despite Lori's efforts to get in his way.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Showtime's Shameless.

"Which America?" was written by Molly Smith Metzler and directed by Silver Tree

Debbie is hardly the most selfish Gallagher. That honor will always belong to Frank. He doesn't care who he hurts in the process of getting what he wants. That's the way he has functioned for his entire adult life. It can certainly be a reassuring quality to the audience. There are no longer any expectations of him changing or finding some kind of redemption. This is simply who he will always be. That can be comforting. It can be frustrating too though because it makes him a stagnant character. That has always been his role. He functions in the show solely to bring a sense of chaos to everyone's lives. Ten years in, that's the same energy he brings that continues to disrupt his family. And yet, the show has also been interesting in how having Frank as a parent has affected the various decisions his children have made. They all have their own unique relationship with him. They no longer tolerate any of his antics. And yet, it's not a surprise to see him doing something childish and reckless in the family home. He is simply too entitled to stop making a mess of the lives of his children. That is dangerous here because he steals from Debbie. Her scheme of buying expensive clothes and returning them thirty days later was always going to implode. It was simply too complicated for her to keep track of on an ongoing basis. It provided some comfort to her. However, it's a power she wields because she feels personally responsible for the family finances. She has taken ahold of that position in Fiona's absence. However, she let Frank and her siblings believe that they had cards with money on them only to be completely blindsided when the bank forbids them from use because of their credit scores that were destroyed a long time ago. It's simply a fact of life that this family has to scam the system in order to maintain some sense of financial control. Everyone is furious with Debbie because it seems like she has made this simple mistake that ruins all of their plans. And yet, it also feels deliberate on her part. It doesn't stop her from spending the money on herself. She wants her family to know that she shouldn't expect anything from her or for her to relinquish her control. It's a power move. She doesn't have to deal with any of the consequences though. She remains isolated from the rest of her family. She doesn't have to return home and deal with the wrath of the family members who expected to do more with the money. Instead, they are all distracted. Sure, there is the moment where Debbie walks down the street with a taser meaning to do harm to her father for stealing from her. However, there is no real resolution to that story. It creates a cool and effective image. But Debbie never finds Frank and Mikey. They may literally be throwing a party at the Gallagher home but no one else is really there to put up with the latest event of destruction. Liam is protected by his new family connection that understands he can't be in this kind of environment. Lip is horrified and quickly finds a place to crash at the Alibi. But that's it. There is no clarity over how Debbie or Carl deal with this situation. Instead, the show would rather spend time with Mikey needing dialysis. It's significant to see how strong the bond between Frank and Mikey remains. This twist sets up the inevitability that Frank will lose yet another of his friends in his pursuits as an addict. That's nothing new. It's fascinating to see Debbie take on the mantle of being the Gallagher child who is becoming the most like Frank. For a long time, that felt like Lip's destiny. He had great aspirations for escaping this neighborhood to a better life. His drinking got in the way and he became bitter. Now, he has found peace and stability through the creation of a new family. But that comes with its own complications. It will be a long journey to recovery for Tami. Sure, it's powerfully effective when Ian can see his nephew for the first time. That proves that the bonds of this family are still strong even when one of them is in prison. That's a cathartic moment that shows these siblings can still have a positive influence on each other. But again, there is the overwhelming feeling that they are better off elsewhere if they can simply find purpose and follow that pursuit. Once upon a time, the show was about figuring out which Gallagher had the best chance of making something of their lives. And now, it feels like all of them will forever be condemned to their place in this particular neighborhood. That's repetitive and boring though. Debbie wants to project a sense of coming out on top. And yet, she's just ruining lives for so many people while still feigning ignorance to the fact. That's frustrating and has long expired being an effective storytelling tool.