This Shameless review contains spoilers.
Shameless Season 10 Episode 11
“Dear God, why does everything always have to suck?”
“Location, Location, Location” reveals that a month has more or less passed since the last episode as a “restored” Frank gets released from rehab. As Frank gets removed from this one cushy situation he quickly finds himself in another one. Frank uses Faye’s trip to Puerto Rico as an opportunity to break into her home and hole himself up in her swank living arrangements with no one to check up on him.
It’s fairly ridiculous that Faye seems to actually be interested in Frank now and cares about him on some twisted level. She’s out of the picture for now, but enough of a tease is dropped that she could conveniently show up in the next (and final) season. Then again, if this is all just another way for her to elaborately grift Frank again since she wasn’t successful last time, then I’m all for it.
Frank’s situation takes a turn for the weirder when it looks like he may be sharing his new digs with a ghost. This is actually something that Faye warned Frank about several episodes back, but at the time it just seemed like one of the many layers of deception in her complex ruse.
But no, Frank’s left to actually deal with possible poltergeists as he abandons any modicum of responsibility and parenthood. That is, until he realizes that he can manipulate Liam’s emotions and use him as ghost bait. In the end, of course this place isn’t haunted, well not with ghosts anyway, but just more conniving con men. Frank naturally buddies up with this fellow grifter because naturally, gluttony loves company.
Last time Shameless checked in with Lip and Tami’s world, Lip seemed relatively fine—even borderline optimistic—with his decision to move to Milwaukee in the last episode. However, Lip begins to backslide as he starts to exhibit cold feet and is nervous to express any of these important feelings to Tami (even though his family urges him to). To make matters worse, he’s also interested in buying some local fixer upper of a home, which he probably thinks will ameliorate the situation, but it only makes things infinitely worse.
Additionally, Tami is rapidly putting a life together for them in Milwaukee as Lip only becomes more concerned about it all. It’s not like they’ve had communication problems in the past, but this is serious now considering that Tami has gone as far as to quit her job for the things that they promised each other in Milwaukee.
Understandably, Tami doesn’t even see the appeal or the “freedom” of this new house that Lip tries to sell her on. She immediately addresses how it’s practically neighbors with the Gallagher home and how their situation there would likely devolve into what they already have. She’s right about all of this too and it’s time for Lip to embrace the unknown and mature. In spite of Lip’s shortcomings here, he does eventually open up to Tami and his speech is some seriously sweet and great writing. Unfortunately, it comes a little too late and he still should have trusted her more.
Debbie also faces severe communication problems and regret as she gets sucked down deeper into her blackmail love triangle with Claudia and her daughter, Julia. Just when I thought that this season of Shameless couldn’t become any more farcical, “Location, Location, Location” decides to delve into the whole “two dates at once” well with Debbie. Look, if a storyline seemed implausible and ridiculous on The Flintstones, then there’s a good chance that it’s going to be even more awkward on a Showtime drama.
All of this plays out in such a hackneyed and clichéd manner, right down to the dinner date and prom happening in a walkable distance from each other (which Debbie is able to make happen). Does Debbie keep all of this afloat and prevent this from blowing up in her face? Not a chance, but at least in a way it manages to bring Claudia and Julia kind of closer together…before they fall even further apart. They’re just another set of lives that Debbie has recklessly played around with and ruined with little consequences. But hey, that welders’ strike will probably be conveniently over by next week’s finale.
Carl Gallagher’s tribulations remain the most painful part of this season’s conclusion. All of this is just so stupid and what’s even worse is that it’s been a repetitive mess for several weeks now. It’s just the same story beats on repeat. Carl’s patience continues to get tested in stupid ways with this undercover garbage job. His current dilemma is that they’re actually clueing in to the fact that he gives off serious narc vibes. It looks like his time here will finally be over soon, but it’s been such a black hole of development.
What’s only slightly less patronizing here is Kevin’s need for a new “thing,” which is really just more mid-life crisis madness that’s bothered him for the entire season. He’s desperate to find “his thing” and while he’s desperate to latch onto something more than ever, he’s not any closer to any life-changing answers. It’s honestly surprising when Kevin and V’s proposition from the last episode comes back. However, it happens to tie into Kevin’s current pursuit for a purpose. This manifests into a Nathan For You-esque exercise regiment that’s hardly anything of substance, but enough to fill Kevin’s time for the remainder of this season.
Kevin may feel purposeless, but it’s as if Mickey’s purpose becomes activated once he becomes engaged. Mickey enters “bridezilla” mode, which is enlightening for Ian, but it also doesn’t alleviate any of the anxiety that he was feeling before he could even commit to marriage in the first place. It’s definitely fun to see Mickey in this change of pace and to give him some other priorities, but it’s pretty low stakes as far as the problems in this episode of Shameless go.
What’s perhaps the best storyline in this episode of Shameless is Liam understanding that the Gallagher family is rapidly splintering and he’ll soon be left with nobody. It’s remarkable that Liam has turned into the most interesting and mature character on this show, but his feelings of abandonment are merely a fleeting thought in this busy episode. It’s genuinely sad to see Liam tell Frank that he misses him and wants to spend more time with him, regardless of the context, only for him to literally laugh in his face and leave him.
“Location, Location, Location” is a very trying episode of Shameless that’s almost reckless with its plotting and story decisions. This season has suffered from growing pains all season and while it’d be nice to think that’s an intentional choice as its characters go through the same thing, it’d still be a major mess. The sliver of hope lies in how Ian and Lip’s material gets resolved.
There’s something to be said for how the end of the episode addresses on some level how absurd some of the plotting of the back-end of this season has been. That doesn’t absolve Shameless of this sloppiness, but hopefully the show can get its act back together as it prepares for its final season. This kind of nonsense happening in the show’s last year is not the way that you go out on top or end with a strong legacy as a cable drama.
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Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, and Bloody Disgusting. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and that Hannibal is the greatest love story ever told. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.