Shameless: Civil Wrongs, Review

Sympathy for the Devil (Karen, in this case), some hope for Frank in LBGT activism and more...

Over the last week, it has come to my attention that people are starting to feel bad for Karen. There is a growing contingent of Shameless viewers who sympathize with her plight as a teen from a bad childhood who made a couple of mistakes. Certainly the writers of Shameless are trying to exploit that compassion this episode as she sits in a hospital bed from a Milkovich-and-run “accident” from last week. They pity her at their own risk.

Karen is an interesting creation for the American version of Shameless. Like many antagonists on cable television, she is written far nastier and crueler than anything you can find on the networks. Whether the name is Walter White, King Joffrey or Tate Langdon, cable villains all initially are written to deceive the viewer into sympathy. Karen is being curiously reverse engineered. After spending all of Season 2 convincing us that she is a textbook sociopath with narcissistic tendencies (and then reaffirming it for the last two episodes), the writers are humanizing her after the fact. Shameless cruelties are all good and fun until someone gets hurt and lies in a hospital bed. As she sits in her standard issue gown, feeding tubes in mouth, are we supposed to feel pity for her? The sad thing is, I do. It is even sadder as I know it will come back to haunt me next week.

It has been a week since Mandy Milkovich cut through the competition with a stick shift. Karen now faces a comma that may never end. Sheila and Jody sit by her side and offer her loving support, as well as bad covers of Billy Joel songs. You can just taste their anguish as they long for Karen to wake up and give them a tongue lashing for playing music she finds almost as shitty as them. God, why won’t they both just die and leave her alone? Yet, we can understand why they wish to hear that verbal abuse in this moment. Lip is also taking Karen’s accident very poorly. Blaming himself for Karen getting hit because he ended it so roughly, he skips school nearly everyday to bring her food. Debs comes to, but mostly to lock onto Sheila as a new surrogate mommy.

Meanwhile, Frank is living high on the horse. For such a blatant homophobe in previous seasons, he has adopted to being the posterboy for Gay Rights rather quickly. Whether at a wealthy donors party or at a high school, he can be counted on saying things that are absolutely offensive, yet sprinkled with enough life-affirming truth to get the big bucks. Perhaps it is because he knows (and cares little) that Ian is Gay that he is motivated to carry on. Well that or booze. In any event, the better he performs, the more surprised and amused Gay activist Abraham, a mixture of Truman Capote and Martin Scorsese, becomes with Frank the Father.

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Frank is honestly such an inspiration for some members of the LGBT community that it is truly cringe worthy when he starts taking solicitations from a creepy “Pray the Gay Away” Christian group. Being bought a beer at Kev’s watering hole, Frank listens openly to a self-hating closet case who compares homosexuality to an addiction. Frank sticks up for his new sugar daddy cause until he is told that not only would he get a nicer hotel room, but they also would “cure” him by forcing intercourse with other test subjects. Free heterosexual sex? And all you had to do was to offer him more beer.

Some are looking to buy more in life than that. Jimmy is reaching the crossroads he has been building to all season. Forced with an inability to make money the cheap, illegal way due to Estefania’s father, he has embraced the idea of going back to medical school. With only one year left until he gets his degree, he could start raking in big money in a year. It also is his break from parenting Fi’s siblings who constantly need braces, attention and work. He spends the episode easing Fiona into the concept and getting her excited at the prospect of dating a doctor. But Fiona knows something is off despite all the teasing from co-workers. Sure enough, the couple is all but crashed on the rocks by the credits, as we take one step closer towards the finale.

Lest your buzz starts fading, it is not all glum and dour tidings this episode. Veronica has been chasing her momma all up and down the South Side to take a pregnancy test. Mom, who has been enjoying her tristes with Kevin for most of the season, wants only to fade away. Morning sickness, perhaps? When V does get the piss on a stick, it is going to be a night of watery drinks at the bar…because Kev wants to stir all the cocktails with the urine-drenched stick that proves he is about to be a father! HALLELUJAH! At this point, Kev and V are our stalwart happy B-story. No matter how awful things get for the Gallaghers and (I pretty much have to include them) Milkovichs, at least there is some happiness hidden somewhere under all the cynicism.

Speaking of Milkovichs, Ian finally found out who the lucky Mrs. Mickey Milkovich will be. Remember that chick Daddy Milkovich had Mickey screw at gunpoint in front of Ian to prove he is not Gay? The dead-eyed Russian hand prostitute? Well, she is ready to settle down with the lad while bringing another Milkovich into this world. Ian is taking it rough because he knows it is their own love that caused that abominable “affair” to happen, but what can he do? Perhaps take Lip’s advice that they both get away from the fucking Milkovichs. Get thee a young lay Ian. Get thee a young lay.

Lip is not getting much of anything as he brushes off Mandy the whole episode. On one of his visits to Karen’s beside, Sheila reveals that Karen did not hate him in her last moments. She was running off to see him because of the text message. Text message? Only one person besides Lip could have done that….Ah crap, Mandy.

Frank ends the episode being discovered having sex with a woman by Abraham and his Gay muscle men. They take it better than Frank likely will as the men disrobe in the same hotel room so that Frank can PROVE that he really is Gay. Abraham just wants to watch with a shy smile. Like I said, Marty Scorsese.

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Finally, the episode ends like a fairy tale. Jody, knowing from Sheila that Karen always loved her princesses, gives her a kiss of sorts when they are alone at night. Except, it is not on her mouth. Poor sweet Karen, always the neighborhood bicycle and never the girlfriend. Honest to God, it wakes her poor aggrieved eyes just as Jody’s tongue enters her special place. Soon as we feel sorry for the sweet Karen who loved Sheila’s bedtime stories, the Karen of last season is back. Bye, Mandy.

Honestly, I do not want this write-up to turn into a blog on Gossip Girl, but Lip…it was for the best. In the real world, what Mandy did is unforgivable. Even on this show, watching Sheila and Jody grieve is tough. But Lip, as a viewer of premium cable television, I know that for you buddy, she will always be evil incarnate. She is going to tear down your life and turn your genius into another wasted reason to join Frank at Kev’s where you’ll drink yourself to oblivion. The girl is arsenic. Mandy is deranged and maybe not one you want to keep around (God knows what she will do if she catches you cheating), but let Karen go. Also, keep telling Ian to look for guys who are in their 20s that are not self-hating. Kudos for getting that part right!

Now that we got the CW section of the review out of the way, I am surprised at how much I wanted to see Frank succeed as a Gay Rights activist. The show cannot let any of them get too far, but he honestly was a great voice for the movement even if he is not Gay. If he was smart, he could use his blue collar street cred to work his way up the pundit and advocacy circuit. He could have been a CNN contender. Instead, he is back to being an embarrassment. I feel mostly bad for the hotel-sever who saw him as a fallen idol. If he had only called himself Bi from the start, he could have done this without things blowing up in his face. And hopefully they did in more ways than one before that night is done.

We are getting near the end, folks. Besides Lip sabotaging his life (again), it looks like the big driving force for the finale will be Jimmy and Fiona ending it. Her new boss at the job is already making moves on her at the softball field. It is understandable Jimmy does not want to live in squalor his whole life, but he knew what he was getting into way back in Season 1. It would be nice if he just found a way to go to the University of Chicago or Northwestern to become a doctor, but he is going to make a break now at any second. Somehow, I am still banking it will be in Estefania’s dad’s body bags at the bottom of Lake Michigan. Guess we will know soon enough.

Most Shameless Quotes of the Week:

“Those breeders, all they want to do is to stop us from having the sex they wish they were having.” Frank at a same-sex marriage fundraiser.

“Debs, I need at least one person in this family to not turn cynical and my money’s been on you.” Lip.

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“School is a time to experiment with your minds and your genitalia.” Frank being wildly AWESOME in a speech to a high school.

“Let people chow down on the nether region of their choice. Male, female, consenting animal…” Frank still at the high school.

“I wish I’d known I was Gay at a young age. I could have risen high in any of the fields dominated by Gays: Entertainment, politics, broadcasting…tennis.” Frank.