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Let’s Get Reel: Shameless

Paige Hamilton ’17, Movie Columnist

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Well folks, I caved. As a self-proclaimed ‘not-hipster’—a statement that invariably supports everyone else’s judgment that you are, in fact, a hipster—there are certain shows I resist watching because, and I hate to say this, everyone else is watching them. Obnoxious, I know. But I like to find shows that, while slipping through the cracks, turn out to be more powerful and cinematically striking than all the mainstream shows combined. I’ve never seen Breaking Bad *gasp* or Game of Thrones *?!* or watched any of the Batman movies *sacrilegious!*. However, there has been one show on the rise that sparked my interest: Shameless.

Everyday it would seem as though a new friend of mine would admit to having begun and subsequently binge watched the eight season series. What was so entertaining about a show, I thought, about a floundering, drunken father? Sex, drugs, soap opera-esc plot twists, intelligent and slapstick humor, relatable life struggles, and so much more they told me. Hm. I was intrigued. But scared—if it’s so addictive, how could I start it now, with just a month left of school and 437 homework assignments left to complete. How could I push all those projects to the side for this one, silly show? The answer: Shamelessly.

Season one, episode one opens with a scene outside around a bonfire somewhere in the outskirts of Chicago. A disembodied narrator, whom we assume to be the main character, introduces us to each of his children, naming them and some endearing qualities, while the camera floats around to show us who is who. Although chaotic and messy, we are oddly drawn into this scene of apparent familial and neighborly love. All that is disrupted however, when a group of police arrives on the scene and break up the gathering. This is the first of many jarring moments in the show and, in relation to the others, quite mild.

The show relies on making regular, daily, ordinary behaviors grotesque, violent, sexual, and just generally irregular. Passing around an old cardboard box at the breakfast table, for example, serves as their means for paying the bills: each of the six siblings drop in some of their weekly earnings. The older siblings earn money by performing low paying jobs, like working at concession stands and tutoring while the younger ones work the…informal market, like keeping the money they raise for charity. Juxtapositions between youthful characters and adult behaviors drive the shock value of the show.

Now of course, I couldn’t just watch one episode of this bizarre, raunchy, and ridiculous show. So, what I learned as I began episode two last night was that the show further complicates its characters by folding their plotlines over one another: all the characters interact with each other in some way so that the side stories become interconnected. Consequently, the foundation of the show is a web of seemingly incensual, unprecedented, yet fascinating relationships.

A crazy show with twist and turns that, so I’ve been told, are unimaginable, Shameless’ unpredictability is addicting. But what will keep you watching is the unflappable love the family has for one another, despite the chaos and adversity they face. If you’re looking for a sometimes sweet, sometimes sexy, sometimes frightening, but consistently entertaining show, Shameless is for you.

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Let’s Get Reel: Shameless