Tuesday, June 21, 2011
My Shameless Love
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I have a friend who hates Aaron Sorkin. He complains that no one talks like a Sorkin character and demands what he thinks is realism in dialogue. I think it's less realism than it is a lack of witty characters, but that's an argument for a different day. My point is that the writing in Shameless walks that superb line of something he would like while never surrendering the wit, camaraderie and whip-smart feeling that most of his favourites lack. It's some of the sharpest writing I've heard in years- hilarious and thoughtful but also colloquial and character-specific. Slowing Lip's dialogue down would be as unhelpful as speeding Fiona's up, they speak as they think- slowing him down makes him less realistic as who he is. The stories are engaging, well-paced and stirring but its really the characters that make Shameless fly.
The brilliantly-crafted family of distinct but intrinsically linked characters (adapted from the British series of the same name) is led, not by William H Macy's poster-featured drunk patriarch, but by his frazzled, harsh and martyrous daughter Fiona (played with remarkable sympathy by Emmy Rossum). From her subtle accent to her skeletal form to her sunken and tired eyes, Rossum embodies Fiona's down-trodden life perfectly. She's frustrating and impossible and heroic all in one, a too-tough, infinitely fragile caretaker who's forgotten how to be anything else. It's a truly exceptional performance.
My other favourites are Jeremy Allen White and Cameron Monaghan as her younger brothers Lip and Ian (Emma Kenney and Ethan Cutkosky round out the speaking portion of the Gallagher family as the promisingly-played but as-yet-outshined younger siblings Debbie and Carl).
*PS: Soo NOT a comedy. Why on earth would you promote this show as a comedy? It's got a sense of humour, that's for sure, but this thing is a drama, no question.