Shameless has garnered a bit of a reputation for itself as one of those love it or hate it shows; it’s a jumbled mix of Brookside, Skins, Porkies and Hollyoaks, whilst bringing its own unique brand of debauched filth to the table. Critically acclaimed by such diverse sources as The Sun and the panel of Newsnight, Shameless is clearly popular, but how does this sixth series – comprising a impressive sixteen episodes – match up to previous ones? This series includes such antics as Frank attempting to stay clean and sober, which he actually does very well, for all the good it does him. Nobody can actually believe for a second he isn’t on something, which is given credence when he slips too far into a daydream and ends up groping a woman. Mickey (something of a personal favourite character) discovers a talent for writing erotic fiction, which leads him into a three-way relationship with a married couple, the husband of which is a closeted homosexual. With a little intervention from the fiercely intelligent Liam, Mickey then sets about restoring his relationship with Ian. Debbie bags herself a new boyfriend, and Carl and Maxine finally end up together – if you can call sex in a public toilet “together”. There’s always been the question of how closely Shameless represents the working class (or in most cases, the non-working class). Supposedly, the show was based on writer Paul Abbot’s own experiences of growing up on an estate in Manchester, but this is also a fictional show, and perhaps in this series more than any other, Shameless loses its heart somewhere along the way and veers off into the ridiculous.
Whereas previous series’ centred around the bond of the Gallagher family, this one delves into the seedy world of gangsters, drug dealers and drug-fuelled violence, and in the process loses its heart. There is little warmth to be found here, and all people are depicted as being corrupt, violent, sex-obsessed, doped up or just plain crazy. It’s natural for shows that have been running this long to take bigger and bigger risks, and go to further extremes to get the ratings up, so perhaps it is only to be expected that Shameless would succumb to the same fate. Having said that, there are plenty of enjoyable moments, a fair few laughs, and it goes without saying that fans of the show will be gripped by the interweaving storylines. The extras here get a whole disc to themselves and, although they comprise the usual fair, they do represent decent value for money. We have an interview with the actors who portray Danny, Carl and Maxine, respectively, plus snippets of their original audition footage. The stock opening credits for Shameless – with Frank’s mad ramblings – are given a little twist in Frank’s Alterative Titles – which does exactly what it says on the tin – and then there are the standard handful of deleted and extended scenes, which should prove enjoyable to fans of the show. Series:Disc: