Despite All Odds, Little has Changed for the Gallagher’s in the Season 6 Premiere

The Gallaghers and company began year six on Showtime’s hit dramedy, Shameless, Sunday night and not much has changed from where things left of in the Season Five finale, except for the increasingly gentrified neighborhood. In fact, Sunday’s premiere seemed to take place mere days later.

I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise. Season Five failed to resolve some of its bigger storylines, like Debbie’s pregnancy , Carl’s juvenile incarceration, and the arrest of Mickey directly following the breakup of him and Ian. It would have been cheap for the season to skip over these details and simply introduce us to a several-month pregnant/post abortion Debbie or a freed Carl as these are the biggest moments of the young stars’ character arcs to date. So, we begin the season with Debbie meeting the news that she is in fact pregnant with giddy excitement but quickly being floored by the news that the man (err boy? yeah, definitely boy) she “loves”and the father of her baby has been sent to live in sunny-Florida and will not be returning to the south side of Chicago any time soon. We also get to witness the release of a significantly matured, albeit far from reformed, Carl from juvie.

As for Mickey & Ian’s relationship, things are not looking good especially now that Mickey has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, which is disappointing for two reasons. 1) Noel Fisher’s run as Mickey has been fantastic and a stint in prison will undoubtedly limit his screen time; and 2) locking Mickey up seems like the showrunners decided to take the easy way out of dealing with the emotional fallout of Ian leaving him. Fisher’s ability to portray Mickey as unfailingly macho, while simultaneously one of the more emotionally vulnerable characters on the show – and on television – has been captivating to watch. His singular moment on Sunday’s episode begging Ian to wait for him was the most emotionally compelling moment of the episode. I hate to think that this is what his character will be subjected to for the foreseeable future – and maybe even the remainder of the series. I understand the decision: as Carl and Debbie grow older and demand more screentime, other characters will obviously have to see theirs dwindle. It’s just too bad that Fisher was the first choice.

Speaking of Ian, the audience finds his character still struggling to accept the realities that come with being bipolar in general. Cameron Monaghan continues to exhibit the emotional depth necessary to make you truly feel the pain and confusion of Ian as he comes to grips with what being bipolar means. Any hope that Ian would renege on his decision to end things with Mickey dissipated quickly, with Mickey asking that Ian lie if he has to in order to promise he will wait the 15 years.

Frank is going through some kind of mid-end-of-life crisis and through it has found a level of self-responsibility and restraint (he is only having 1 drink per day!!) that he has never come even close to in the past, even though he does manage to get himself banned from a cemetery for jerking off on the grave of his deceased-beloved, Bianca. Although Frank is clearly grieving and has a fresh look on life, it would be naive to expect him to keep it up for very long.

In more un-healthy relationship news, Lip is becoming increasingly infatuated with his professor Helene Runyon, pushing him to the point of assaulting her son outside of her home. I’ve gotta say, out of all the prospective new relationships this season has, I’m most excited for the inevitable friendship between Lip and Helene’s son, who must love that his mother is having an affair with someone his age. But, the mutual respect is there from the start, with Helene telling Lip her son “says you hit hard.” And Lip admitting that her son “hits hard” too. However unhealthy the relationship, it became clear in this episode that Helene reciprocates Lip’s feeling for her to turn a blind eye to his stalking episode and exhibiting slight jealousy over the girl she found in his bed. At least Lip still is excelling in college, providing the best chance the Gallagher’s have at making out of the ghetto – or being able to stay in the hood after all the coffee shops and smoothie places are done popping up.

Thankfully, it wasn’t all bad news for relationships in the premiere. Veronica and Kevin seem to be going strong after the hiccup (if you can call Kev sleeping with 10+ co-eds and V going on a date that) their relationship went through, even if the two barely shared the screen on Sunday with Kv being more preoccupied playing the neighborhood peacemaker.

And that leaves Fiona and the only action apparently left out between Season Five’s finale and Six’s premier: Gus, her fiance, is out of the picture, as we find Fiona waking up in bed next to Sean. It really is a pity that a character with the sophistication and emotional depth that Fiona has, plus the superb performance of Emmy Rossum, must be so fucking reliant on a man for her character to move forward. Don’t get me wrong, I love Shameless and enjoyed the premiere but why can’t Fiona just do her thing for a while? Although, Sean is objectively the “best” guy she has chosen thus far and her stock is also rising, as she just got promoted to Assistant Manager of Patsy’s Pies. I just hope Fiona isn’t written into another ping pong board of relationships, bouncing from man-to-man (she had 3 different love interests in Season Five alone, granted not all were new).

The Gallagher’s keep plugging along, somehow impervious to all the external forces wreaking havoc in their lives. We’ll see if this Season is finally the time when things start to change for their merry clan.

By: Matt Atwell
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