Season four of Shameless was one of the most impressive television seasons I have seen in a long time. It still brought the laughs, but it also really delved into who these characters were and how they responded to hardship. It was brilliantly acted, heartbreaking, and triumphant, and it solidified the show as one of the best on TV. As we move into season five, there’s a clear shift in tone from the heartrending drama of last year to a more carefree, rebuilding atmosphere, and although the premiere isn’t perfect, it’s still a great reintroduction to the Gallaghers’ lives.
The clearest differences that come to light here are surrounding Frank and Fiona. Last year, both of them hit rock bottom, but we see them begin to improve in “Milk of the Gods”. Frank, for example, is turning all his effort toward crafting the titular “milk of the gods”, and he’s come a long way from the man who nearly died in season four; interestingly enough, “coming a long way” for him simply means “reverting to season one Frank”. Although I still question the ridiculous nature of his liver storyline, I do enjoy Macy’s performance well enough to see where the character goes from here.
Right now, aside from the “new beer” storyline, it looks like there’s a clear rift between Frank and Fiona. Although the episode is about attempting to move on, the past still informs many of the decisions these characters make, and Frank is sure to point that out when he’s at the diner. He mentions that Fiona’s boss “hired a felon” who “nearly killed [Liam], and we can still see in Fiona’s eyes that those words hurt her. Yes, Fiona deserved the blame last year for what happened, but here, she’s attempting to improve, and Frank’s intent on driving a knife in.
Aside from that, though, it’s still really nice to see Fiona doing well again. She’s smiling, she’s being playful, and she’s smart enough to know that Davis–a guy who tempts her at the restaurant–is “the wrong choice”. At the end of the episode, she chooses her family over him, and it really drives home the sincere attempt she’s making. I’m a bit iffy about her flirtation with her boss–played by Dermot Mulroney–though, as I would like to see the writers tackle a more platonic relationship with the character.
Elsewhere, the idea of past vs. present plays a huge role as well. With Veronica, she and Kevin love their kid, but there’s also that difficult struggle that comes with raising a child; she vents to Fiona about what she’s lost and what she wishes she and Kevin could have back. With Ian, he’s in denial about his bipolar disorder, about that family history, but it’s certainly influencing how he acts; it will definitely be even more detrimental if he doesn’t get help soon. With Lip, he’s caught between his new life and his old life, and that’s exemplified by the subtle, yet excellent, scene on the train.
And finally, Lip’s storyline also ties in with the beginnings of gentrification in the neighborhood. It’s a new threat to the Gallagher way of life, and it’s a sign that everything won’t remain as happy and carefree in the future. What’s important, though, is that these people are together again and ready to fight. We are ready to watch.
Here’s to a great season.
– “You lie to your notebook?”
– “Are you mad, Daddy?”
-The Lip scene with his neighborhood friends–Stumpy?–doesn’t really work for me. I completely get why the show is conveying this conflict between old and new, but these characters just seem shoehorned in. It’s not as effective as, say, the scene on the train or Lip saying goodbye to Amanda.
-So nice to see Mickey again. Noel Fisher was a revelation last year.
-Sheila’s awesome, as always. It’s been a while since I’ve laughed this much at a Shameless episode–which is not a bad thing, by the way–and Sheila’s a big part of why I did during this episode.
-I watched the Youtube version of this. Man, Showtime is not shy about pimping out its show on free preview weekend. I felt like I saw the “GET THE UNCENSORED VERSION IF YOU BUY SHOWTIME” notification 100 times.
-So, Angela–who was seen in the car with JimmyJackSteve last year–is leaving Fiona $100 tips. I’m still not really happy with the decision to bring him back, but who knows? If there’s any show that can surprise me, it’s this one.
-We are now in season five. As much as I hate to say it, I’d like to see the show end next year; I think six seasons is perfect. Showtime’s notorious for dragging shows on way too long, after all, and I’d like to see Shameless end on the highest note possible.
-Since there’s no True Detective at the same time this year, Sundays this winter/spring will be devoted to Shameless (and possibly Girls and Togetherness). I’m excited to cover this show every week! Join me!
Photo credit: Showtime, Shameless