Sunday, December 8, 2019

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Ian Is Released From Prison as His Siblings Deal with Parental Consequences in 'Sparky'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 10.05 "Sparky"

Frank hatches the idea for a new scheme when an unexpected visitor shows up at the Gallagher house. With Tami back in the house, Lip struggles to give up control of Fred. Debbie's fight for child support escalates. Carl tries to juggle multiple romantic prospects. Ian returns home and is immediately thrown in with a corrupt parole officer.

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.

"Sparky" was written by Philip Buiser and directed by William H. Macy

The audience has seen the Gallagher siblings grow up over the past decade. And now, it's clear that the narrative is trying to shift to the next generation of Gallaghers. Sure, the stories are still primarily focused on Lip, Ian, Debbie and Carl. However, Liam has taken on more responsibility as an active component whose story needs are on equal footing with his siblings. But this season has also showcased how this family is expanding because of the children the siblings are having. Fiona never had the ambition to be a mother herself. She spent so much of her younger life being a parent to her siblings. Only now does she have the chance to explore her own independence. However, being a mom is something that has defined Debbie for a couple of seasons now. Frannie can speak a few words. She is growing up. So are Kev and V's girls. They aren't quite old enough to have distinct personalities that explore how they function in this specific world. But they do paint the familiar characters in a different light. They are now seen as parents. Lip has joined them this year with the addition of Fred. It's a responsibility he has tried to take seriously. Again, it's laughable that the show insists he cares more about what happens to his own son than his siblings when they were younger and needed guidance. He stepped up when his siblings needed a guardian. He has dealt with his own problems. But now, his entire life is defined by being a parent. That can be so all-consuming. It's not inherently bad. In fact, Ian is joyous about being an uncle. He already was technically because of Frannie. However, he has always had a stronger relationship with Lip. When he is released from prison, Lip is the one there to greet him and bring him home. It may at first seem like no one is waiting to celebrate him at the Gallagher household. However, a party eventually happens. That offers reassurance that some things will never change in this world. But again, the passage of time is having an impact on these characters. Their lives are changing. And now, they have these children they have to care for. Debbie is embroiled in a legal dispute with Derek's wife over his death benefits. She believes she can actually lose custody if she pushes this too much further. It's also strange how the show wants the audience to react a certain way in this particular story and the complete opposite when it comes to Ingrid coming back in the picture with her twins. Randy suddenly appears and tries to hand Frank's children with Ingrid back to him. Of course, it's more complicated because Carl was tricked into providing his genetic sample to create these new lives. He doesn't take any ownership over them because they weren't created during sex. That's the way that he views life being conceived. He doesn't understand the science that Ingrid and Frank went through. But here, these babies are essentially viewed as bags of money that Frank can sell. That is absolutely horrifying. Again, Debbie is worried about losing her daughter. Lip consoles her by ensuring that no one wants that to happen. Meanwhile, Carl and Frank are downstairs listing this baby on the black market. That's some disastrous storytelling right there. The audience may be able to forgive the show for a lot of its misgivings. This story, in particular, though makes it painfully clear that the show no longer has any internal sense of logic. It's simply playing these stories out at their own rhythms not really trying to make a cohesive whole. The other thing that unites these characters is chaos and the fact that they are awful people trying their best to survive. The same element is abundant in Kev's story where he wishes that he was molested alongside the rest of his middle school basketball team. When he confronts the pedophile in jail, he actually is sexually assaulted because the criminal jerks off in front of him. Kev doesn't treat it as a trauma though. Instead, it's an action to be celebrated because he feels like he belongs. However, that's a horrifying worldview that props up a false narrative that people come forward making false accusations to make names for themselves by taking down someone else. The show is honestly a mess right now. Ian is only out of prison for a few hours before he is forced back into an illegal activity by his parole officer. That's basically just saying that no one in this world is honorable and reputable. When Mavar presented as such to Liam, everyone quickly got bored with that because it simply wasn't the world they were accustomed to living in. But that also means the show is no longer challenging itself to evolve. That's unfortunate and may really dampen the legacy that has slowly been fading during these last few seasons.