Remember your old family sitcoms? Remember when Eight is Enough and the wholesome Huxtables biggest problems were related to an untimely haircut followed by the patriarch setting down his pipe and paper to dole out advice with the child propped on his lap? Those shows, along with the middle class ideal that personified them, are gone. But where one recedes another ascends, and now our representatives are the efficaciously Shameless Gallagher family.
Though it is winter, the second season gives us an Indian summer, such as it is, in the Chicago suburbs where the Gallagher’s are still somehow making it work during summer break. Daddy Frank (William H. Macy) is still an astonishing alcoholic whose dereliction of fatherhood and radical right wing cynicism always gets him exactly what’s coming. I’ve never seen a more perfect example of someone who could benefit from ‘The Secret’ as Frank Gallagher.
Fiona (Emmy Rossum) remains steady as the glue that prevents the family from collapsing on itself like a dying star. She and best friend Veronica (Shanola Hampton) are making steady cheddar working at a club where Fiona is having fun playing the field, though it is obvious she misses Steve (Justin Chatwin).
As for the rest of the clan, just the usual summertime activities: Lip is running an underground fight club where sometimes he must participate when a fighter flakes on him, Ian still works for Kash even after his wife found out about their affair, Debbie is running day care out of their house, Liam (affectionately called ‘the mulatto’) goes panhandling with Dad, Veronica’s boyfriend Kevin (Steve Howey) helps the boys start up a roach coach to sell candy, beer, smokes, and (ahem) other smoke to kids of literally all ages, and Carl is probably on his next step towards becoming a sociopath. Whew!
The Gallagher family and friends are just as hilarious and heartwarming in their warped comradeship as they were last season. Perhaps even more so now that the actors have obviously become more in tune with each other. The family sitcom really is alive and well, even if it is not exactly how you remember it. But the times really have changed. You cannot be viable in this world by making your money just one way; those jobs no longer exist for the middle class. We now have to make sacrifices, be clever, innovative, and hopelessly shameless.