Shameless: Frank The Plumber, Review
Taking to the streets this week, Shameless hits hard as usual.
You cannot fight City Hall, but by God you can drunkenly insult it! That is exactly what last night’s episode of Shameless did when a beloved character took to the streets as the face of a movement. Their names are etched in history: King; Mandela; Gandhi. Well now, Frank Gallagher will join them!
For those who may have missed it, Frank is now the face of the Gay rights movement. Not bad for a guy who began the episode making a slur against members of the LGBT seeking same sex marriages (he called them a bunch of “queers”). You see a week ago, Frank moved in with clingy, pseudo-creepy Christopher. Christopher, a chipper animal control gasser for the city, is the lonely sad sack sort who pretends to be a recovering alcoholic so as to pay a sponsor to stay with him. Life is pretty idyllic for the two roomies who share the same bed, all the same meals and even have sword fights with their toothbrushes from the same sink. After rolling his eyes at Gays in the paper, it strikes Frank as a brilliant idea to get the two civil rights so Frank can get free government employee healthcare. Yet Christopher, quick to defend the LGBT community, does not want to be seen as Gay. Too bad, Christopher. Too freaking bad.
After a government worker turns Frank and Christopher away when they cannot prove they have been living together a year or have an “emotional” relationship, Frank puts the bottle down in anger. He will take his case to the highest office as he crashes a political rally for a mayoral candidate. There, he lets go a tirade about how unfair it is that Monica has almost unlimited rights as a mother, even though she abandoned Frank and their six children years ago, while Frank and Christopher have none. I will give Frank credit for making a damn fine case for civil rights and same sex couples in general. But to Frank, it is all about the bottom line and never seeing the bottom of the glass. And if he is not too dumb, he may just pull it off…prepare for it to a fall apart next week.
This episode also saw Fiona start a temp job. Ever the breadwinner looking for more ways to win that doughy goodness, Fi begins working through a temp agency at a white-collar job. Wearing the only business casual in her wardrobe, Fiona does pretty well at forwarding sales for the company. It is a good thing too, because the rest of her behavior is not so much shameless as senseless. Veronica, who is trying to convince Kev not to circumcise their imaginary baby, convinces Fiona to use her work computer to look at penis horror stories. Also, she spends all day texting and dealing with Debs who is skipping school (more on that in a minute) and performing her job with all the professionalism as Kenan and Kel at a burger joint. The office’s self-proclaimed “bitch” (a Gay man) rats her out, but luckily her supervisor is a sweet guy with a dreamy smile. She has done very well at the gig by going off script and can stay on a few more weeks. He even completely understands the penis stuff. Something tells me, he has his own headset that he wants the temp to speak into. Also, the Gay man who ratted her out wants to be BFFs after finding out her father is the man standing up to mayoral candidates on the Internet. Yays!
Meanwhile, the real dramatic thrust of the show centered around (surprise, surprise) Lip, Mandy and Karen. Mandy comes over to “grab some stuff” she left behind. In reality, she gets a semi-apology from Lip. At least it is one until she tells him that an MIT recruiter is coming this afternoon. Lip would be outraged if she did not reveal she also applied for him to Stanford, Northwestern and half-dozen other schools. He is so infuriated that he goes and bangs Karen in the school bathroom. Seriously, Lip? At this point, Lip and Karen are one unplanned pregnancy away from becoming Frank and Monica. Sure, when the MIT guy shows up, Lip acts cool and refuses to play his game. But when he discovers that the guy only came because Mandy stole a speech from Nelson Mandela for Lip’s essay, he shows off his intellect by writing one on the spot that impresses the Hell out of the recruiter. Still, Lip refuses to go because he wants to “meet C-3PO in my lifetime” and knows if he is taught how to think by a university that he will never be able to do so for himself. I cannot fathom if the writers actually want us to believe this crap is Lip’s true reason for not pursuing college or not. Either way it sounds like BS. Lip wants to remain a layabout in South Side Chicago so that nobody will ever judge him as a failure or a turncoat. In short, Lip is stubbornly dumb for all his IQ points.
Even so, it seems Lip really is considering the possibility of MIT when he has make-up sex with Mandy. Sadly sex is just another test for Lip, as he uses it into an opportunity to ask why she wants him to go to college. She gives the obvious and smart answer: Get out of this crappy neighborhood, whether you take me or not. This dose of the obvious forces Lip to do the first smart thing for himself in like…ever. He dumps Karen that afternoon and admits Mandy is good for him while Karen is so, so, SO obviously not. Karen, never taking anything lying down, follows the CW playbook and calls Mandy to reveal she has been screwing Lip. “All it takes is to poke one hole in a condom” and Lip will take her with him when he leaves. Sigh. Karen, this ain’t the CW.
Karen has a seeming breakthrough with Sheila a few minutes later. Sheila has been nursed out of her whole ‘my daughter is evil incarnate’ thing by Debbie who has a similarly terrible mother in Monica. Sheila apologizes for her OCD and not being there for Karen enough when she was younger. However, as nice as the scene is, I do not imagine a single viewer can feel sympathy for Karen. Not even when she gets that supposed text from Lip and she goes to meet him in the park. She seems so happy that he wants her back and Sheila is happy for her. I, myself am sad for Sheila when Mandy runs Karen’s ass over going 60 MPH. Only Sheila. You should not fuck with a Milkovich, girl.
Speaking of Milkovichs, the other dramatic development is that Mickey is getting married. Despite being Gay and in love with Ian, Mickey has intentionally knocked up a neighborhood bicycle and is looking to settle down with his beard. This is the kind of stuff that makes me tired of Mickey. I like how he and Ian are anything but the typical Gay couple stereotypes on television, but Mickey will die before he comes out of the closet. Hell, I am willing to bet he is the character who is rumored to die in this season finale. There is just no future for the guy and Ian needs to move on to someone who is both accepting of his sexuality and also legally allowed to have relations with him (so not Jimmy’s Dad).
All this stuff is great (please let Karen be dead!), but the episode still belongs to Frank. He is cheered and welcomed into every Gay Club in the city where he gets free drinks and free head. He is so drunk that he does not care whose head is down there. Even being kicked out by Christopher’s angry, homophobic mother is no skin off Frank’s back. Movers and shakers in the Gay rights movement end the episode by approaching Frank to become their “Joe the Plumber.” They want him to be: Frank the Father. Frank the head of the LGBT movement? Woe unto them and joy unto us!
This is a pretty damn clever episode for Shameless. Frank has always been the wayward blowhard who shouts from the each corner about his hate for Obama or immigrants or whatever. However, his political idiocy has never been a focal point in the show’s narrative. By making a man who has obvious homophobic tendencies become a Gay rights activist for only a free meal and plenty of booze is the kind of comedy gold that makes this show great. It is politically incorrect, but can anything be offensive on THIS show? Is there any taboo they have not yet covered? Probably, but political exploitation is now checked off. Seeing Frank walk in the shoes, however briefly, of the mocked and ridiculed is nice, but seeing Frank take the entire political culture of Chicago and the greater U.S. for a ride is even better. I cannot wait for him to wrap them all around a tree before running off.
I imagine things will not end well for the Mandy and Lip storyline. First, I am sure Karen survived because this is after all a TV show. Secondly, Lip being happy or going to school is not in the cards for a show whose budget will keep him firmly planted in Chicago. I doubt he will end up at the University of Chicago either. When he finds out Mandy rolled Karen into street pizza, I can only dread his inevitable whining and using that as an excuse to follow Frank onwards to South Side oblivion.
A fabulous week for the most freaky show currently on television.
Shameless Quotes of the Week:
“Now, I’ve got king’s disease.” Frank. When Christopher asks if that is a VD, Frank corrects, “Kings don’t screw whores, they screw virgins of their nieces. The king’s disease is Gout. The big toe is bulging like blue balls that no blow job will fix.”
“Why should our heterosexual proclivities prevent us from collecting our due? That is htereophobia and I won’t stand for it!” Frank to Christopher.
“If it is a boy, you’ve got to circumcise. Have you ever seen one that’s uncut? You don’t know what’s going on up there. It does not make you want to go downtown and you want your kid to get his share of head, right?” Fi.
“My mother called…I only convinced her last year that I’m not Gay.” Christopher. “It took me years, Frank. YEARS!”
“What’s an Adam’s Apple matter if you can blow like that?” Frank enjoying his newfound political visage at a Gay Bar.