SHAMELESS 3.01 & 3.02 Review

Fiona gambles big on a club night while Lip resorts to old tricks to keep the Gallaghers from going under.

Hilary Rothingby Hilary Rothing

Episode Titles: "El Gran Canon" and "The American Dream"

Writers: John Wells (3.01) and Nancy M. Pimental

Director: Mark Mylod (3.01) and Anthony Hemingway (3.02)

Previously on "Shameless:"

Episode 2.12 "Fiona Interrupted"


"Shameless" returned last week for its third season and despite a suicide attempt, a birth and the departure of a major character, things are pretty much the same at the Gallagher home. Fiona’s still working crappy jobs to make ends meet, Lip’s still resisting the pull of higher education and Frank’s still a despicable human being. But that’s not to say that everyone hasn’t changed.

Though things may seem the "same" on the surface, it would be unfair to say the Gallagher family and their equally screwball friends and neighbors haven’t grown since last season. After Karen split town, leaving her mentally disabled newborn son behind, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) started seeing Mandy (Jane Levy), who’s turning out to be someone who actually cares about him. Fiona (Emmy Rossum) might not like the fact that Lip's girlfriend is walking around the Gallagher home half-naked, but Mandy wants the same things for Lip that his big sister does. What’s frustrating is that despite the fact that he can do things like build a Mars rover and win a "battle of the ‘bots" contest with it, Lip still refuses to go to school or apply himself in anything that’s not illegal (he and Ian stole a laser from a lab for the robot).

In last night’s second episode of the season, Lip repeatedly lectured Fiona about using the family’s property tax payment to promote a night at the club. Unlike Lip, Fiona wants to "invest in herself" and sees a life beyond cleaning literal sh*t houses for a sewage removal company. However, Lip insists the only way people like them can get ahead is by stealing and scamming. Some would suggest that skill set is necessary to graduate from a top school and climb the corporate ladder in America and yet Lip just doesn’t get it.

While Fiona hustled to pull off her club night, Frank (William H. Macy), now back from a brief stay in Mexico where his deep anal cavity helped him (and nineteen bags of coke) get into the country, hustled to find a place to stay. Once back in Chicago, Frank tried to make himself at home, but the only Gallagher happy to see him was Deb (Emma Kenney). Her unconditional love for Frank is heartbreaking, especially when he continually disappoints her. Still, Deb tried to coax Frank into acting like a father, but when he accidentally destroyed her social studies project and then called it "a piece of sh*t", Frank lost his only ally in the house. Deb proceeded to beat him with a bag full of bar soap. Scenes where Frank gets his comeuppance are usually pretty funny, but watching Deb take out all her hurt and disappointment on Frank with a soap bag beating was sad and a little horrifying. Fiona, who’s always quick to step in and try to fix things, just stood there with her hand covering her mouth, knowing there was no way to make this one any better. As troubling as it was, scenes like this remind us just how human and hurting these people are, when we're not laughing at them.

With Frank back in town and looking for someone to leach off of, Sheila (Joan Cusack) and Jody (Zach McGowan) became his latest victims. Desperate for relief from baby Hyme’s crying, Frank soothed the wailing child by rubbing Valium on his gums and thus earned a place to crash. Meanwhile, Fiona found Veronica (Shanola Hampton) sitting on the from steps and looking to spend the night after a woman claiming to be Kev’s wife showed up with her son. It’s bad enough Fiona has deal with her own estranged family members’ unannounced visits, now she’s got Veronica and Kev’s to contend with.

The first two episodes of the new season made sure to saddle the Gallaghers and friends with plenty of fresh problems to occupy them for the next ten episodes or so. Even Jimmy (Justin Chatwin) can’t get a break with Estefania’s father breathing down his neck, despite the fact that she has no interest in being with him. Their problems might not make much sense, but these characters are great at owning them and usually making them worse. With that in mind, it should be interesting to see how much more screwed up the Gallaghers and company will be by season’s end.