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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Something About the Season 6 Premiere of SHAMELESS Rubbed Me the Wrong Way



I've been a longtime fan of Showtime's Shameless, the American remake of the U.K. comedy series, since it's series premiere back in 2011 (weird to say "back in..." like 2011 was the medieval era, but anyway). The show, about the shenanigans of the white lower class Gallagher family living in South Side, Chicago, has had its ups and downs throughout its years-long run, but it has delivered some compelling storylines and character arcs as of late.

That is, until Sunday night's season 6 premiere episode.

It starts out copacetic enough; big sister Fiona  (Emmy Rossum) is getting on with her new boytoy Sean (Dermot Mulroney); Daddy Frank (William H. Macy) is chasing his own drunk tail around town; little sister Debbie (Emma Kenney) is dealing with issues way beyond her age; and little brother Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) is getting comfortable in jail (because we all knew it was just a matter of time for him until he got there). Carl is released early, comes home donning cornrows, baggy jeans, a bad attitude--looking like he just fell out of a really bad rap video. Fine, Carl has always been a thug in the making. Now he's just bonafide.

But it is only when Carl's friend, an 18-year-old black man he met in prison, pays the Gallaghers a visit, when entire family becomes concerned and is visibly terrified. Seriously, Frank, who has been spending his nights hanging out at a cemetery, begins to fear for his life because a black man has walked through his front door. Should it be that surprising to see a black man in South Side, Chicago? I know up until this moment, the Gallaghers have somehow managed to avoid minorities (with the exception of Fiona's bestie, V, played by Shanola Hampton, and ironically their own baby brother, who's clearly a token) in their town, but this stark reaction jarred me -- and turned me off a bit. Which, I guess, is strange to say about a show that has never once tried to be politically correct, which actually endeared me to it. But I'm still saying it.

And on this same episode, there are also homophobic slurs uttered by one of the new characters on the show. So basically, the writers were on a roll. But I am a little worried about where the season will go from here. Maybe this was just to catch our attention, get ratings? The series was just renewed for a 7th season, which means there will be a lot of opportunity to shift the narrative (or make a larger, more significant statement?).

We'll have to watch and see what happens. But for now, SHAMELESS, I'm keeping one eyebrow raised.

SHAMELESS airs Sunday night at 9pm on Showtime.

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