Wednesday, January 23, 2013

'Shameless' Season 2 Doesn't Dissappoint

The second season of the Showtime hit-series “Shameless” (now in its third season) premiered last January and true to form leaves little to the imagination. Sex, drugs and drunk driving run rampant through the destitute Chicago neighborhood of Canaryville, and often comes off as a bit scandalous, if not deplorable, especially to the uninitiated. But that’s all part of the charm.

Admittedly, if I grew up with these perfectly unguided youths, I’d be right next to Lip and Kev Ball pushing pot out of a beat-up ice cream truck to 14-year-olds at the local park. See, once you get to know them, the gangs really not that bad, they’re just trying to get by... they’re not hurting anyone but themselves, and that turns out to be the most entertaining part of all.

The first episode, called “Summertime,” opens up with the alcoholic head of the family Frank Gallagher running his mouth at the only local bar that hasn’t banned him, “The Alibi Room.” He bets this gigantic South-Side gangster that the man couldn’t take two shots to the chest with a taser gun and still be standing. Well wouldn’t you know, there’s a taser gun behind the bar, and long story short, Frank loses. Big. $10,000-big.

Between slinging back Budweisers and trying to seduce a chronically ill woman from his past, Frank uses his infant son Liam to panhandle change on a street corner to pay back his newfound debt. But, when the gangsters find him, they bring him and the boy back to their warehouse, and Frank reluctantly surrenders Liam to the gang as collateral.  

The show is quite funny at parts, and somehow sad. It’s much like HBO’s “Entourage” with memorable over-the-top storylines, but without all the Hollywood money, glitz and glamour. You could say "Shameless" is the poor-man’s “Entourage.”

Of course the gorgeous actresses are still a mainstay like the female lead, Fiona Gallagher, portrayed by the beautiful 26-year-old scarlet Emma Rossum. She’s a standout and certainly engaging playing the hopelessly unafraid Fiona.

Once you realize that the characters aren’t flaunting their dirty little habits like Vince seems to on “Entourage,” you find that the characters seem like normal people. They’re not horrible, they are who they are: unapologetic.

There are parts of the show that strangely remind of my own life, although unlike our characters, I’ve never grew dozens of pot plants in my basement or brawled in an underground, no-holds-barred fight ring. Some situations, however, seem somehow familiar, albeit not entirely similar.

I caught myself thinking about my own friends or family while watching, which is a hallmark of a good show. It’s like well-written fiction is a foggy mirror that when done just right, you can find parts of yourself in the smooth glass. There’s a missing memory here, or a notion there, something vaguely reminiscent. If that’s the case, then Showtime’s “Shameless” is polished very close to perfection.

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