For the most part, Shameless the American (and British) running TV show is a brilliant representation of the use of the word shameless. The show is about the Gallagher family, a low income household with a drunk father, severely bipolar mother and kids that practically raised themselves, with help from their oldest sister Fiona. Fiona had to take over the role as caregiver and major provider of the household at a very young age to make up for her deadbeat father and runaway mother. She does not have a stable income because she never finished high school and takes on a lot of pick up jobs for very little pay. To make up for the deficit in funds, Fiona and her family do things that are well shameless. For starters, in episode 1 of shameless, we see Frank, the deadbeat father, pull out a disability envelope for disability that he clearly faked just to get money to feed his addiction, Lip and Ian, brothers of Fiona, both get blowjobs underneath the table by the person they were supposed to be tutoring, Steve, Fiona’s boyfriend, steals cars for a living and Carl, Fiona’s other brother, has idiotic and low key sociopathic tendencies which shows when he tries to microwave his action figures after being repeatedly told no. In later seasons, stealing, drugs, murder, and sex work seem less out of pure desperation to keep things afloat, but instead it seems like the first option they use because of pure selfish desires. Lip the eldest brother has the opportunity to get out of their bad neighborhood after graduating high school and go to MIT but blows it when he acts out while being angry drunk. In another scenario, Frank was doing drugs at his aunt’s house, where he was staying, and his aunt OD’ed. Frank had nowhere else to go so he never told anyone that his aunt died and buried her in the yard. Only years later did the kids find out that their great aunt had died and frank was still cashing out her welfare checks. Throughout the seasons, as people we start to get attached to the characters in the show and therefore we have empathy for these characters so even when they do bad things we start to cheer for them or hope that they get away with criminal acts. Therefore, do we lower our moral standards while watching? Do we start to feel like we can also try criminal acts and get away with it because of the show? Do we feel more empathy for criminals because we start to think of how their life may have been like before they became a criminal? In another season, Fiona Gallagher almost overdosed her 3-year-old brother on cocaine when she wasn’t watching him and went to jail. Why is it that we feel empathy and hope that she isn’t arrested even when she committed a very serious and inexcusable act?

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One thought on “Shameless Acts

  1. I actually really love the show. As humans, we tend to put ourselves in situations that will never come to be, but we feel the need to relate, and therefore we feel a sort of kinship to these characters. Although I thought Fiona should have gone to jail, it doesn’t depend on that. There are several cases in the show, where characters should have stayed in jail, for as long as the sentencing deemed, but the show does a great job to reflect the institutions failing our characters and justice in general. They are not at fault for overcrowding in prisons, and they are not at fault for the world they were born into, but specifically in Fiona’s case, nearing the end of the show, she had built herself up to be someone, and in being overly ambitious she lost everything, and instead of moving forward, and trying to find a new way out, she falls back into old patters, and becomes what she desperately does not want to be, and what she knows to be Frank

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