Shameless “Uncle Carl” Review (5×08)

9 Mar


“Gallaghers: it’s kind of a diagnosis, though, right?”

No matter how far apart they are or how many wedges are thrown between them, the members of the Gallagher family will always be tied to each other in one way or another. It’s a big family that is just so damn compelling to watch, and “Uncle Carl” seems to be about emphasizing the connections that all these characters share, about highlighting the positives and negatives of a family tree that is like no other. It’s not the easiest time for the Gallaghers–when is?–but there’s a reason they all share the same name.

The most direct example, of course, is regarding the biological issue of bipolar disorder for Monica and now Ian. After getting released from the hospital, Ian ends up flushing his pills down the toilet, and it causes quite a bit of worry for the rest of his family; as he tells Fiona, the pills being gone helps him feel better, helps him live life without the shadow of the disease hanging over his head. The problem, though, is that this is never going to go away, and we all know that he and his family have already felt the consequences of the disorder head on. It’s an understandable action for Ian, but it’s also an incredibly precarious situation for him and his family, and we can see why Fiona is worried about her brother.

However, Ian does have a good rebuttal when she approaches him to talk about the pills. “I’m not Monica anymore than you are,” he asserts, and we see that even though Fiona has good intentions regarding those around her, she can oftentimes become so caught up in them that she doesn’t deal with her own issues. That idea is furthered later on when Veronica tells Fiona to “figure out your own shit before putting it on me”, and Fiona once again gets one of those “Oh wow, how did I get here?” looks on her face. What seemingly is a throwaway line–Frank’s “That would be hypocritical”–in fact applies nicely to Fiona’s personality at times.

I do see a gradually changing Fiona, though, and even she’s aware that she’s changing. I don’t think it’s quite the same “chaos” Fiona we saw who gave that big, empty speech to Sean, and although she still has that side to her, I believe her when she says: “I’m changing because I hate what I did.” Gus is right when he says that they didn’t think before they got married, but Fiona is also right when she tells him that they need to think now…because man, they rushed into this and then some.

As bad as it all may seem, Fiona and Ian both still have a great support system around them, and they’re all united under the diagnosis of “Gallagher”. In fact, even when Carl gets busted for possession of heroin and heroin-covered Chuckie, there’s a Gallagher team-up outside of the interrogation room when everyone yells to make sure Carl doesn’t tell the cops anything. What is a truly messed up situation is turned into something funny and absurd, and that’s pretty much what this show’s been doing–and doing well–over the last five years.

However, that’s just part of Shameless. The other part is seen in one of the show’s best scenes thus far: Lip telling the financial aid officer about why he needs to go to school, about why he can’t take a year off. It’s here that the “Gallagher” theme pays off in a deeply affecting manner, and Jeremy Allen White is absolutely phenomenal in every second of that scene. “I could be there for them, but I’m not,” Lip struggles to say. “I’m told that staying here is something that I can do for those kids, so I’m here. If I go back to the house, then I’m in it and I can’t get out of it.” It’s the perfect way to highlight just how connected he is to the rest of his family, even as it seems like he’s growing further and further apart from them. When all is said and done, nothing can compare to the crazy, entertaining, and strong family that we see in the Gallaghers.



– “This is about oral manipulation of sex organs for stress relief.” Svetlana’s consistently bringing the laughs with her “wifely duties”, and I’m happy for that because it’s already difficult watching Kevin and Veronica struggle like this. Also, I hope that at some point, we get a fleshed out Svetlana storyline.

-Another great Svetlana moment: “You Americans like everything to be right or wrong. Life is not so black and white. You should be happy Kevin makes these changes because if no one does, that’s how babies end up in dumpsters.” A very poignant moment between her and Veronica there, and I really hope Veronica and Kevin can get back together. They’ve really been the heart of this show, even if they haven’t been the most prominent characters.

-Yet another week of Dermot Mulroney being useless. His whole “You need to make a decision” spiel is fine and all, but I’m not sure if we really need his character (I feel the same way about Gus, so I hope this means the last of Gus).

-Any Ian-Mickey moment is going to be fantastic, and this episode’s final scene is no exception.


-There’s a nice scene here between Debbie and Mickey, in which the former tells the latter that he can’t drink away his problems. She even tells him that Frank used to do the same, and it thematically ties into how Ian’s acting in a Monica-esque way even as he’s in denial. Yes, Frank and Mickey aren’t related, but still…work with me here.

– “Why would I do the right thing?” Oh, Carl.

– “Don’t shoot! I’m white!” Oh, Carl.

– “Get me a fucking lawyer, motherfucker.” Oh, Carl.

Photo credits: Shameless, Showtime

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