Shameless season 8 has arrived like a shot to the liver. And as the revelry gets more debauched, we’re getting some hints about how things will be changing for the Chi-town clan.
Shameless Season 8 Episode 11 Trailer
Here is the trailer for Sunday night’s upcoming episode, which is titled “A Gallagher Pedicure.”
Shameless Season 8 Episode Guide
Our thoughts on the perfectly depraved hour (which you can read all of by clicking the link above!):
It waves there, gracefully flapping in the breeze. Old Glory is meeting morning glory, which likely wouldn’t be considered an unusual sight in almost any other yard in America. But this isn’t just any yard. It’s the Palazzo de Gallagher, and on these not-so-hollowed grounds it’s a bit unusual. But not really, at least not in 2017. As Carl says while looking straight at the camera, “America first, motherfuckers.” The Gallaghers are in the Trump era now. God help us.
Indeed, when any show reaches its eighth season, there is an understandable tension about how the series will reinvent itself or stay relevant after nearly a decade. When that package also promises total reprehensible behavior in its title, clearing that hurdle starts to appear intimidating. But luckily for Shameless, it is the season of the reprehensible in American life, and the series takes to 2017 with vigor and aplomb.
The series goes strong because it knows which characters we want to see have already moved on (Fiona), who still needs to grow past their South Side damage, but can dramatically remain in transition (Lip and Ian), and who should never change, baby, even though he really should (Frank). It also knows how to sprinkle in new but oh so shameless gags.
Normally, Shameless builds across the span of a season to the moment when Gallaghers’ lives (and storylines) intersect. Otherwise, they’re mostly all off in their own debauched worlds, completely oblivious to the fact that Debbie is “with” poor Neal, or that Lip is no longer bound to his great expectations in college. But only in episode three of the year, Fiona leads an entire flock of Gallaghers, still fresh with rotten pieces of Monica skin under their fingertips, to go eyeball-to-eyeball with a meth dealer living in a storage unit. And “Saint” Francis, bless him, actually is a protector of the little children and, for a passing moment, resembles something akin to an actual father.
Indeed, to highlight the weaker elements of this week, one only needs to look at Lip’s non-conflict for the hour. Understandably, Lip is feeling pretty damn frisky after going months on end without sex as part of his recovery. But when his boss/AA mentor tells him he can be allowed to have meaningless, carefree sex, the show bends over backwards to turn this into a burden. First Lip unwisely (but not necessarily out of character) goes fishing in one workplace at Patsy’s Pies. A poor and wholly Lip Gallagher-inspired choice under normal circumstances, it’s compounded as he has already dated one waitress there. Good looks and good IQ does not make for good decisions.
It’s amazing how much an episode’s value can change in a single moment or, even more precisely, on a sole line of dialogue. But “So find another fucking church” had exactly that effect on the fifth episode of this year’s Shameless. Two weeks ago, I remarked how nice it is to have scenes where the Gallaghers are forced to work together. Well tonight’s hour very skillfully and satisfyingly went in the opposite direction by placing Fiona and Ian Gallagher on a collision course, and in the process they created an interesting dilemma intended to divide fans the same way they divide local residents of any neighborhood. Gentrification versus community outreach, property values versus decency. And is either being really that selfless of an advocate?
Quite honestly, this subplot is a rehash of last season wherein “Big Papa” and V got way too close to a Russian who undoubtedly will screw them out of money and/or a bar after she is finished, ahem, screwing them in other ways. There is is some lip service about the role of sexual fluidity, but even in regards to V’s openness to Svetlana, it feels mostly tacked on for the irony of her digging her frenemy’s touch over her beloved husband’s. One also hopes this triangle is rekindled for purely comic effect, because there is absolutely no reason Veronica or Kevin would or should accept this woman back into their bed as essentially a spouse after she stole theirlivelihood. Also, the idea that Kev needs to struggle to find a gay partner when he worked at the Fairy Tail for half a season is questionable at best.
But these narrative deficiencies are mostly irrelevant because the series lands each one of its laughs in this section tonight. Kev thinking “have a nice day” is code for a handy-dandy reach-around makes about as much sense as a man who a few days prior was dressing like he was on The Beverly Hillbillies, unironically. Nevertheless, it does reduce Kev and Veronica to purely comic relief for potentially the rest of the season, because there is no way to earnestly play again their war with Svetlana, especially after her true-blue bestie Fiona didn’t bat an eye she is back with a treacherous woman and merely commented (accurately) that V likes to be dominated. Something Kev will never do, which is why she (and we) love him.
Last week, the impending crash of Fiona and Ian was sidelined for some amusing, if slightly irrelevant, comedic and emotional beats. However, with the title of “Occupy Fiona” alone, it’s clear that Shameless has found its main thread again, and it is perfectly compelling, and not only because it is about Gallagher subplots colliding. While there is some real joy found in that aspect with tonight’s hour, the truth is that this clash heavily hints at very different tracks for the members of our favorite South Side brood.
Having a male character reject Fiona because of her messy life is actually a smart narrative twist that could put Fi in some ever needed soul-searching. However, this stoic man’s man, who in one scene feigns ignorance to the very concept of seduction and then in the next reveals he has about a half-dozen children and had no issue with fathering the babes of a lesbian couple upstairs, is as believable a persona as Frank trying on the hat of “St. Francis” for a week.
If this is going to be Fi’s love interest for the foreseeable future, the writing around him and this subplot will have to pick up in a big way.
In many respects, this might apply to this episode of Shameless as a whole. Ms. Rossum did a fine job directing it, and all the cast was very game, but even though this was scripted over half a year ago, it very much feels like the writers’ room was already off for the holidays. Here’s to hoping their efforts are more refreshed in the New Year.
Midway through tonight’s episode of Shameless, Carl gives the kind of snarky comment that can only land so well after a show has been running for at least a half-dozen years. And land it did, “I’m not going to let [her] go just to end up like everyone else in this family who can’t keep a relationship.” The punchline is just as much for we, the viewers, as it is for his befuddled brothers Lip and Ian. They attempt to counter this argument, even after Ian’s been flipping back and forth between his on-and-off dynamic with Trevor for nearly a whole season now, and Lip finds himself in what must be at least his fifth love triangle.
It is perfect, and cuts into what makes “The Fugees” so good—besides Frank running from Canadian law in a subplot that errs wonderfully into pure farce. Here is an episode that owns up to the heightened insanity of these characters; so even as it is mostly about the price paid by all Gallaghers who bone (and Fiona’s apprehension to being apparently boneless), the whimsical demeanor gives Shameless an amusing buoyancy, until that suddenly comes to an end with always unexpectedly blunt authenticity. And that edge was here tonight too.
This storyline is intriguing, because Shameless is maintaining an ambiguous line about where it is all headed. There is a more poignant direction this could lead, as well as a more cynical one. While given this series’ history, I tend to think it will elect the grimmer route. Still, I’m rooting for the former. Ian is offering a very powerful and necessary message: if you are Christian and gay, you shouldn’t live in shame or fear. It is still a powerful one too, especially, as Lip pointed out tonight, hating on gays is popular again.
When Fiona goes to the church at the end of the hour, she is somewhat amused at what she later describes as “Ian has a cult.” But she is also awed by how important the message is to people. It needs to resonate. Nevertheless, the show is definitely raising plenty of red flags. One is somewhat inconsequential, because whatever Ian’s opinion is on the matter, he couldn’t stop it. Frank is tackling another get rich quick scheme by “helping” Ian via “Hot Gay Jesus” merchandizing shirts. Poor Liam is convinced to help out, and Ian ridiculously believes that Frank will give 95 percent of proceeds to Trevor’s homeless shelters.
Shameless Season 8 Story Details
While we haven’t even received an official trailer, Variety was at PaleyFest this year where Shameless producers and stars revealed plenty of story details to get fans excited. First and foremost, the new season will feature Frank Gallagher supposedly getting his life together. Again. Sure, he’s done that before and yet the last season ended with him smoking his share of meth inheritence, but he was in mourning, dammit! Now that he can put the loss of Monica behind him, Frank is supposedly a new man.
According to the trade, Macy said, “I don’t want to frighten you, but Frank shaves. He has a credit card; he buys a car; he gets a job. But he’s been so loaded for so long, he’s a little bit crazy when he first comes back. And he is devastated by the loss of Monica. The ghost of Monica will live on and on and on, especially for Frank.”
Ian Gallagher will apparently likewise grieve, as he was perhaps the one child who truly understood Monica. Yet while Frank (and Lip) sober up, the new season will be about each of the children moving on in individual ways. Jeremy Allen White, who plays Lip, said as much: “I think all of the characters at this point have all grown up so much that while in the middle of the show, they really relied on one another. Now they’re all getting to the point where they have to be a healthy sort of selfish where they take care of themselves first, ahead of the others.”
This includes Fiona stepping out into a new world as an entrepreneur and real estate owner. But in the age of Donald Trump, things will take another grim but believable turn. As per executive producer John Wells, the very beginning of season 8 will feature ICE raids targeting Fi’s Patsy’s Pies diner for undocumented workers.
Says Wells, “I have very liberal tendencies, but the one thing you can say about what is happening is it’s started a conversation. There is a conversation in America about ‘Who are we? Who do we want to be? How did we get so separate? Why are we not talking to each other?’ And we try and go right at it.”
Shameless Season 8 Cast
Casting of new characters continued when Deadline recently reported that Richard Flood of Red Rock fame has been cast as Ford, a Yale graduate and architect who also has freelanced as a war photographer (busy guy). He comes to Chicago in search for an apparently “simple life,” whereupon he meets Fiona Gallagher. Good luck with that, buddy.
He is also joining new castmember Jessica Szohr of Gossip Girl. Her arrival hints that Fiona’s spur-of-the-moment decision to buy an apartment building will become a major aspect of season 8.
As announced by Showtime, Szohr has been cast in the role of Nessa, a tough and smart lesbian who lives in Fi’s new apartment building. She also becomes quick friends with her landlord.
Shameless Contract Drama
Shameless season 8 is set to premiere this fall, which is great news for the Gallagher faithful after the series went through one of the more public contract disputes in recent Hollywood memory. Emmy Rossum, seeking parity with William H. Macy who she has essentially been a co-lead to on the series since its inception, wished to be paid by Warner Bros. Television on an equal level with the award-winning actor not only for season 8, but also in attempt to make up for past seasons’ contract disparity.
Rossum broke the news herself last year on Twitter when this all got placed behind them by writing, “Playing Fiona Gallagher has been one of the great privileges of my life. I’m so happy to continue w[ork] with my SHAMELESS family! Back to work in May!”— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) December 14, 2016
The contract negotiations became quite visible last year when it was leaked to the press that Ms. Rossum and Warner Bros. Television, who produces the American version of Shameless alongside John Wells Productions, had reached an impasse. Rossum, who has played Fiona Gallagher in every episode of the past seven seasons of Shameless, has long been paid less than the other major face of the series, William H. Macy.
To be clear, despite both actors being the central anchors of the show since season 1, this difference in salaries was precipitated by the fact that Macy is a well-known character actor before the series began, including from earning an Oscar nomination for the Coen Brothers film, Fargo. However, despite how some in the press have commented on the stories, Rossum has never been an unknown, not since earning praise and several young performer and breakthrough awards of her own for 2004’s The Phantom of the Opera (of which, she was the only actor to come out favorably from that Joel Schumacher film). She also had appeared in the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow.
Still, and in spite of the ensemble nature of the show, Shameless has increasingly become Fiona’s story more than any other sibling character or, for that matter, Macy’s Frank Gallagher. And until season 8, Rossum has continued to be paid less. Warner Bros. Television had previously agreed to raise Rossum’s new contract up to be paid equally to Macy’s rate—which he had closed for season 8 prior to this publicized kerfuffle—but Rossum and her agent have been asking to be paid more than Macy in an attempt, it would seem, to make up for lost income during previous seasons.
This is a rather eyebrow-raising situation in Hollywood, because television has in general lived and died by the “parity rule,” which is that the lead or essential actors of a hit television series are eventually paid equally for later seasons. This why every member of Friends got the same seven-figure salary during the sitcom’s later years (then a novelty), or why the “top-tier” actors on Game of Thrones (the ones that the show deems as “leads” since season 1) now evenly earn $500,000 per every episode they appear in.
Breaking this rule, could open up television producers to be challenged further down the road when invoking parity, which rarely happens… at least with a female performer being paid more than her male co-stars, at any rate.
Also for the record, William H. Macy has publicly supported Rossum’s requests saying, “Emmy Rossum deserves she’s asking for.”
It is unclear how the deal has closed, but given Rossum asked to surpass parity, it is likely all of Hollywood is intrigued and will know soon enough for future contractual agreements. In the meantime, we can all look forward to some more Gallagher debauchery in 2017 and beyond.