This Shameless review contains spoilers.
Shameless Season 9 Episode 9
Sometimes the first bite of a pint of bitter can go down rough. But the second sip grows on you like a scar across the tongue. Such is the case with the second week of Gallagher degeneracy in the back half of Shameless Season 9. Last week felt like it was treading water by hitting all the familiar beats. And to be honest, we have also seen many of the same elements in “BOOOOOOOOOOONE!” before, however it was remixed into a tasty blend of Frank, Fiona, and freakin’ hipster histrionics. It might be recycled, but there’s nothing shameful about that when it’s this amusing.
As this series was originally conceived as circling William H. Macy’s Frank getting into humorous debauchery, it makes sense to depict Frank facing his debauched mistake again: fatherhood—or really grand-fatherhood because there is only so many episodes before he bails and tries to shirk responsibility for the babies on poor, poor Carl. In the meantime, he learns that due to the logic of the most loosey-goosey fertility clinic in America, he and Ingrid are going to have sextuplets—six children in one litter. The number was not chosen by accident considering that it is a one fell-swoop replica of the six progenies he failed. The idea that he could do it all again (and allegedly better) in his twilight years is an absurdity even the show won’t entertain.
Still, after Ingrid chooses to go on the lam with six buns in the oven, as opposed to allowing her doctor to terminate three of the embryos, they’re off “hiding out” in plain sight at Frank’s house where his whole brood can scoff at the idea of Frank doubling his pain. Indeed, both generations acknowledge this failure when Frank addresses his mostly grown children as “my practice family.” In one breath he insults them, and in another he uses them as an excuse to rationalize staying with Ingrid while thinking about fanciful things like college—a future none of his other kids knew besides Lip for a fleeting moment.
His children throw back his delusions in his face. Fiona is a failed land developer with anger issues (to put it mildly); Lip is a college dropout with a drinking problem, like the old man; Debbie is a single teen mom missing several toes; Carl served time in juvenile hall and was briefly a drug dealer; Liam did cocaine as an infant and might only be saved by being smarter than these knuckleheads; and Ian is currently serving three years in prison for arson after indulging a God Complex.
Bloody well done, Franklin. Yet he thinks next time will be different simply because he is ready to give it the old Gallagher try—which means he’ll commit for one to three weeks before quitting and dropping the bomb on the real (soon to be un)happy father. Until then they’re going to get some mileage out of Frank being the Hobo King for a new ad campaign targeting entitled millennials. As a millennial, this makes me laugh, not least of all because I’m also sure it was written by someone from a generation that didn’t come of age in the “gig economy.” Inner-city hipsters are annoying, but let’s not start debating generational wealth.
Nevertheless, it is a smart play to mock the special type of rich kid who likes to pretend he or she is poor while living in the inner-city on their parents’ credit card. HBO and Lena Dunham made a critically lauded (but so-so) entire series on such pretensions. By contrast, Tami’s roommates drinking five-dollar organic coffee got the idea across in a single scene. In any event, Frank will be auditioning for the role of Hobo King, which I suspect will be something like “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Best of luck, Frank. We’ve seen narratives where you become a popular spokesman for a day before, and they almost always land even if your career doesn’t.
It also offsets the bitterness of Fiona’s downward spiral well. In this vein, “BOOOOOOOOOOONE!” began by drawing a slight nuance between Fiona as den mother and Debbie in that position. Fiona could always be a bit prickly when she didn’t think her siblings were doing their fair share (which was often), but Debs turning off Fi’s shower is the kind of petty vindictiveness that we can only anticipate from a pint-sized ginger with her own entitlement issues. Not that Debs shouldn’t be pissed; Fi squandered their utilities money for three straight months. But when even Lip is asking her to go easy on Fi, it’s clear this is a new level of Gallagher tyranny. Ayatollah Debbie should make a fun narrative avenue to explore, especially when Fiona is more than just running across the street in a towel—presumably she’ll soon be running away for good.
Until then, Fi unsurprisingly reveals she does have Ford’s tools and will give them back one smashed window at a time. We of course need a few episodes of Fi bottoming out, but given she only may be on five more hours of Shameless after this—potentially forever—we need to soon see which direction the wind will carry her derelict rudder. Debbie, on the other hand, is thriving as she even demands $70 from wee baby Liam to pay for utilities. These are dark days, truly.
Be that as it may, Liam teaming up with Saint Santiago (for what other lad would put up with this?) is a delight. Only Santiago is unphased by the concept of Liam being asked to work and pay his fair share. And because Liam is low-key genius, he also speaks just enough Spanish to commune with the lad. One could argue the show is being too glib to make Liam a savant in all avenues while being well-adjusted in the face of his family’s peculiarities. It is practically a network sitcom conceit where Liam is able to always shrug off Fiona giving him cocaine or Frank getting him kicked out of private school with a relaxed disposition. But eh, it works? Very much so in the scene where he and Santiago rustle up some scratch by allowing local racists to “build a wall” around Santiago, oblivious that he is Guatemalan. Also being able to carry an air conditioner above his head is a nice gag.
Carl also gets some humorous juice out of Carl and Kelly’s relationship. Unlike the Lip and Tami one—which feels like it’s going through the motions as a romantic rival is introduced and Lip begins to self-destruct—Carl is actually challenged to grow by Kelly more than any of his romantic rivals. I do wish that we would see him spend more time while on this evidently endless summer with the police officer father of his first ex. They had a good camaraderie that’s put Carl on an intriguing path, including with a romantic interest that is improving his disposition.
While he is forced to give her up at the end of a gunpoint held by her decorated military officer father, his vision board seems desirous for something he’s never known: functional happiness. Shameless being Shameless, we know that this can never actually come to pass, but Carl continuing since his juvie hall subplot being the one to surpass Fi and Lip in climbing out of the South Side will always be something I root most for. Simply because until a few seasons ago, no one saw it coming! And rather than making him insecure, Kelly focuses Carl’s ambitions while he, in turn, gives her a great outlet to defy a father’s ridiculous expectations.
For instance, she sits them both down and gives the cliché self-autonomy speech but ends it by revealing she is about to go have sex in her father’s house with her teenage boyfriend. This exact second. And papa has nothing to do but say Carl better get going. It is the kind of incredulity that helps make “BOOOOOOOOONE!” a delicious blend of the familiar, as well as apparently live up to its elongated title.
There is very little here we haven’t seen before, but this week, I enjoyed spending time with these crazy kids. May this summer never really end.
Most Shameless Quotes of the Week
“Go take a flying fuck off a rolling donut.” – Fi.
“They’re self-proclaimed hobos. We’re simply offering them the chance to prove it.” – Smug marketing douchebag who speaks some truth.
“We’re pregnant and we’re hiding from a North Korean fertility specialist, so make room, my practice family.” – Frank.
“Fuck the tent, we’re having sex in my room.” / “I guess I better go.” – Kelly and Carl talking to Kelly’s dad.