Shameless – Season 1 (US)
The Gallaghers aren’t what you would call your average family. Mom has left years ago and dad Frank lives from (an injustly obtained) disability fee which he lovingly spends on booze and drugs while for the rest he’s mainly occupied at feeling victimized by all the injustice in the world. Oldest daughter Fiona is Frank’s opposite. She takes care that bills are paid, food is on the table, and at cost of herself she makes sure to organise everything in the Household in such a way that things run somewhat smoothly, something that’s far from an easy job as the rest of the kids are also far from easy.
Philip (aka Lip) is the eldest son but while he’s extremely intelligent, he uses his knowledge mostly for tutoring and cheating exams in exchange for money and seks. Ian wants to get into the military but has issues with his sexual preferences. Daughter Debbie still has problems with the fact their mother left, 10-year old Carl is an upcoming pyromaniac, and youngest son Liam may be still in diapers, he too is a mystery as despite both parents being white, he’s rather dark…
One takes The OC, turns everything upside down, and then you’ve got just about the concept of Shameless. Where most of these type of series are all about the “problems” of the rich & famous we this time go to the bottom of society and get introduced to a completely insane family that has to scrape everything together to have something close to a normal life while in the meantime experiencing the most ridiculous situations, mostly caused by themselves or the situation they’re in.
The present of William H. Macy in one of the leading roles is without a doubt one of the main drawers for an audience, but although he plays his role great it immediately gets noticed that this first season is all about Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and her relationship with car thief Steve (Justin Chatwin) and the difficulties caused by the fact there’s quite a gap in income between both. However, don’t be afraid that this quickly degenerates towards the average rom-com with all related drama as Shameless is hard and rough and their relationship is more the red line on which the season hangs itself and puts up all kinds of different (funny) situations.
Maker Paul Abbott (who stated he’s loosely based the show on his own life) has gathered more than enough interesting situations to have all members of the family get their piece of attention while there are also plenty of good side characters that make that you won’t easily feel that the leading characters are becoming predictable. The first few episodes need a bit of getting used to as Shameless deviates quite a lot from the average series about family lives, but once you get into the Gallaghers, there’s no letting go!
Shameless is the US-remake of the British series with the same name that has gotten an 11th season already by now. This first US season is an almost direct copy of the Original (with a bit more focus on Fiona and Steve) so those who’ve checked out the UK series may not be so interested in this one as there’s little new to be found. If you haven’t seen the Original, then this one is certainly worth checking out!
The image and sound on this DVD are more than decent with high level of detail, good levels of black and (except for some minor noise) no compression errors. Especially the sound gets noticed and this due to the fact that for a show driven by dialogue there’s quite a lot of action coming from the rear. Each time the busy house of the Gallaghers comes to the screen you’ll almost constantly have sounds from the kids coming at you from all directions, giving a good idea of how hectic Fionas life must be.
The pilot and episode 7 (Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father) get an audio commentary track. In the first writer and director John Wells, Emmy Rossum, and executive producer Andrew Stern are talking and although they do give some info about the episode, they’re more talking about the season in general. In the second track writer Etan Frankel talks with Cameron Monaghan (Ian), Jeremy Allen White (Lip) and director David Nutter and here it’s truly about the episode in question.
The rest of the extras start with “Bringing ‘Shameless’ to America” which is a 14 minute feature on how the UK version was adjusted to appeal more to a US audience. “Bringing the Fun to Dysfunctional” is an 11 minute “Making Of” that can better be seen as a promo for the show, and in “A ‘Shameless’ Discussion about Seks” we get several members of the cast talk about the many sex scenes in the series.