Shameless: The Two Lisas Review

In tonight's Shameless, Debbie does something very, very shocking. Yes, we'll talk about it. Plus, where is Sheila headed?

Wow. Let’s get it out of the way right now. Debbs has finally gotten rid of her most loathed V-Card in the only way she thought possible after 14 years of long-suffering existence: by date raping Matty.

…Was this a good development for Shameless?

I will say that purely from the perspective of the seriesmythos, it is entirely plausible that Debbie Gallagher would view this as a necessary solution to her much obsessed over virginity problem. After all, Debbs is also the girl who thought, incidentally, that it was “okay” for her to borrow/kidnap a dementia-raddled woman from a nursing home to be her Aunt Ginger for a day. And she is also the Gallagher we all cheered when she saved the house by (falsely) telling cops that Cousin Patrick inappropriately touched her. So, I view Debbie taking matters into her own hands with a very intoxicated Matty as par for the course with the character.

With all that said, Shameless did just turn rape—with the knotty addition of self-statutory rape, as the show helpfully points out—into one hell of an intended joke. And lest woman-on-male rape be giggled about, let’s all just recall the recent dust storm surrounding Shia LaBeouf’s latest predicaments. Personally, I’m usually uncomfortable with rape serving as a punch line, with practically a snare drum to boot. I do not doubt at this very moment that many gender politics columns have just been given a new writing prompt for the next 24 hours of social media conversation.

Ad – content continues below

Nevertheless, in the context of Shameless, I actually think it succeeded as a character beat. Last season, I recoiled at some of the way the series exploited, in my opinion, the Matty storyline in a way that felt crudely lascivious given the age of the actress involved. In contrast, this moment felt genuinely fair in developing Debbie into the budding sociopath we all know she can be (I’m only half kidding) with a matter of restraint—which is again a very odd thing to write given the subject matter. The way that Debbie both was unable to comprehend the folly of her actions with Matty and her later insistence to Fi that she is a woman now and can try cigarettes (before deciding she dislikes them) felt like the show wasn’t devaluing what happened. Or, at least Shameless was using a loaded subject like this to develop Debbie in a sincere way, such as when she and Fi share a hand and proverbial tears over the sudden step that Debbs took.

Whether the show should have gone there or not, I will at least concede that it worked and in an appropriately Gallagher way (read: bizarre) brought the characters closer together than they have ever been before. And I hope that now that Debbie is past this arbitrary taboo that she can grow to have a healthy and more stable childhood. Besides, this is Shameless, and five years in, this kind of development cannot have really surprised anyone.

In other news from tonight’s episode, “The Two Lisas,” Fiona learned that yes, that nice tipping lady does indeed want to try a pie that is not on the menu, and that unsurprisingly her rock ‘n roll gentleman caller is a douche. I doubt anyone is shocked to discover that this bad boy is also bad news, but it still leads to Fi connecting with another member of the band. Honestly, the only twist here is that between Dermott Mulroney and all the other bevy of temptations in Fiona’s vision, she fell for the guy who would give his life for a song. But we’ll see if this goes much further than his conveniently staged date at the renovating coffee shop from across the street.

However, the real big news is the two women who have seemingly left South Side Chicago for good: Mandy and Sheila. Between the two, I can safely say that I would miss Sheila more if they’re both really gone forever. However, I suspect that each shall show up again this season—if very lately in the case of Sheila.

Mandy Milkovich leaving with her abusive boyfriend was the worst decision the character could make. But it was painfully obvious that she was exiting stage right because Lip has moved on to his college girlfriend. He even doubled down on this motivation for her when he didn’t respond to her proclamation of loving him. Lip’s idea of convincing her that she’s worthwhile is to turn her into a late night booty call. For such a smart guy, he could certainly take a course on human communication.

Still, Mandy deciding to put Chicago in the rearview feels as definitive as her insistence that she has moved on from Lip Gallagher. It seems unlikely that we have seen the last of Mandy. And if she really is leaving the series, I hope it is not for such dire prospects as her current boyfriend.

Ad – content continues below

As for Sheila Jackson, I dread that this is close to a final moment for Joan Cusack on the series—or at the very least a penultimate one. Somehow, she nor Sammi realized until tonight that Frank is, has been, and will always be a selfish asshole. They may have nursed him back from death’s door, but the whole of season four could have been summed up by Fiona, Lip, Ian, and even Debbs’ reaction: So? Hallelujah for the viewers that Frank is still amongst the land of the living, but this is not a guy any of the rest of the characters should lose sleep over.

And it appears that Sheila is done doing exactly that. Frank blew up her house (as well as his latest business partner), and she is done. Those two nice lesbians will pay her for the property no matter what, and she now has an RV to retire in sans Frank Gallagher. Without a home to call her set anymore, it feels like this is the time for Joan Cusack to really drive off into the sunset. I just hope if she is leaving that she swings by one last time this season to say goodbye to the rest of the Gallaghers and give us one more laugh. She also could probably bedroom torture Frank one last time as well. If there’s a free beer involved, I’m sure he’ll be game.

However, this leaves the rest of season five in a curious position. For the first time in years, Frank doesn’t have Sheila Jackson’s home to run back to…which means that he is about to start living at home with his children. Where he will become obsessed with the threat of gentrification.

…Fiona is going to really wish they let Frank slip away before next week’s episode is done.

Most Shameless Quote of the Week:

“Friends don’t rape friends.” – Matty

Ad – content continues below

“I’ve seen you put out after the first drink.” – Frank

“Can we not have one moment of peace?! Christ! I’ve got a raging lunatic, succubus of a daughter on one hand, and a lumpy, smothering pervert on the other! And you’re both driving me fucking insane…You’re needy, you are insane, your son is a lump of pure misery, and you have disgusting hygiene. And you! You’re a certified whackjob who couldn’t go out of your house for two years; you take great pleasure in shoving fake penises up the butts of the men you love; you banged the husband of your only daughter; you adopted a bunch of Indian kids, and who the fuck knows why; and I cannot stand your unreasonably complicated cooking.” – Frank



3 out of 5