SHAMELESS Hits All the Right Notes on “Pimp’s Paradise”

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The Sixth Season of Showtime’s Shameless continued to get better by the episode on Sunday night, turning in a hilarious and highly entertaining hour of television while maintaining just enough of an emotional punch on “Pimp’s Paradise.”

The Gallagher’s returned to their home, albeit with a few modifications and a new addition. The return home allowed much of the younger Gallagher’s to spend more time together alongside Frank with Fiona, Lip, and Ian all moving forward on their own in various stages of relationships.

At home, Frank is reconnected with his new-old muse, Queenie, who appeared last week to take care of her grandson Chuckie, making her the mother of the recently incarcerated Sammie. Queenie and Frank quickly rekindle their fiery, yet somewhat disturbing, romance everywhere and anywhere, including the dinner table. While hesitant at first, Queenie appears here to stay for the time being and ready to step in as the new family matriarch as Fiona is set to move in with Sean. No matter how long Queenie stays, it is refreshing to see the show bring William H. Macy back into the family dynamic and truly let him out of his cage. Last season, Frank spent most of his time alongside Bianca or in Costa Rica and the beginning of this season saw him playing “cancer concierge”. His reemergence as a “family man” is epitomized by his rousing speech to allow Chuckie to give his book report on “Mein Kampf,” not to mention the show’s perfectly zeitgeist-y shot at Donald Trump.

Thankfully, this week saw Debbie break off her attempted seduction of Erica, letting her know that she is in fact “15 and like[s] boys.” This is precipitated by Frank’s continued exploitation of Debbie’s pregnancy, which now manifests itself in his desperate attempts at keeping Queenie around. Well, it is clearly working and Queenie and Debbie have become fast friends, as Queenie fills the void of the accepting mother figure that Debbie has been looking for all season long (which Fiona has all but run from.)

With Ian attending a wedding as Tony’s date, their relationship took another step forward this week. I know I have lamented the loss of Mickey to great lengths but I’m starting to come around on Ian’s new love interest. While Mickey and Ian were a beautifully badass couple, their relationship was never exactly what you would call healthy. Noel Fisher’s departure from the show has breathed new life into Ian, who is beginning to find a home with the firefighters while learning what a healthy, mature relationship looks like from Tony. Credit goes to showrunner John Wells on turning the loss of a beloved character into a real positive.

Initially, it looked like Lip’s bad breaks were going to continue when he was informed that he had been kicked out his dorm due to Amanda’s wall art. Could their relationship have ended up causing Lip any more trouble than it has? However, Lip lucked his way into new housing as a sorority’s house boy, where he will trade physical labor for room and board. While he was finally able to catch a break, it remains clear that his relationship with Helene is over, after Lip’s drunken attempts to draw her out of her house go unnoticed. The scene did succeed in reminding everyone of the acting chops of Jeremy Allen White and that even though he acts like a tough guy, deep down Lip is in fact a sensitive and impassioned man who has watched far too many people he has cared for simply walk out of his life.

As I mentioned above, Fiona has decided to move in with Sean, which is a pretty inexplicable decision after watching her attempt to get the house back by any means necessary. However, I think this move allows her character to grow, while also remaining involved in all of her sibling’s shit, as she mentioned she loves. Hopefully, some of Sean’s profound wisdom will wear off on her so that she may realize her siblings have grown up to the point where they no longer her need to make decisions for them. Rather, they simply need her to support their decision, even if they may be the wrong ones sometimes.

While Fiona continued to be an outsider to a family that she has basically raised, Sean seemed to cement a bond with young Carl, who is still struggling to come to grips with the fact that his closest friend murdered a child. Ethan Cutkosky was once again captivating in his performance of a young man who witnessed the horrible effects and dangerous road a life a crime can lead to. Although Carl had some of the darkest scenes of the episode, his screen time also provided some of the biggest laughs, reinforcing the fact that his storyline has been by far the most enjoyable this season.

This brings me to one of the brightest spots of this season beyond the emergence of the show’s young stars: the tremendous work of the supporting cast. Although his time on the show is surely over, I can’t name another actor in the past year who has done more with so few of lines as Victor I. Onuigbo did as the soft-spoken Nick. I mentioned already the great work that Tyler Jacob Moore has in filling in for Noel FIsher as Ian’s new love interest, Tony. Each week, Alan Rosenberg has dazzled with his time as Lip’s new mentor, Professor Youens. Then, there are the holdovers from last season’s supporting cast, who have all taken big leaps: Isidora Gosether as the sharp and witty Svetlana; Dermot Mulroney as Sean, who has quickly become the Gallagher’s emotional rock; and I mustn’t forget Sasha Alexander as the beautiful Helene Runyon, even though her time on the show may be up. John Wells deserves a standing ovation for the brilliant casting choices he has made over the life of this show.

Much like last season, Shameless has finally hit its stride after a bit of a rocky start. Now that the Gallagher’s have settled into homes both new and old, let’s see what chaos awaits to throw a wrench in their newfound stability.

By Matt Atwell

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