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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
As the Gallagher kids grow older, it's grown harder for the writers to keep their characters' trademark level of crazy intact.

As the Gallagher kids grow older, it's grown harder for the writers to keep their characters' trademark level of crazy intact.

‘Shameless’ season eight falls flat compared to previous seasons

This past Sunday, Showtime’s long-winded favorite “Shameless” tied up their eighth season, and longtime fans can rejoice because the show has already been picked up for a ninth. It’s been a great year for the network; the premiere of their new show “SMILF” gathered several Golden Globe nominations, “The Chi” had a strong first season and “Shameless” is getting a ninth season. However, all this great buzz wasn’t able to distract from the fact that the current season of “Shameless” fell a little flat.

I’ll be honest, this is the first time I’ve been caught up with the show to watch it week-to-week so it was a big shift from the major binge sessions I participated in last year. However, the pacing of this season was much slower than previous ones. It was organic to the narrative — the Gallagher kids are all growing up and branching out, but there were rarely storylines between siblings and there were no big Gallagher family hijinx. It was bittersweet to me. On the one hand, I enjoy watching these well-rounded characters mature and grow up. On the other, I’m sad to see them all lose the instability that made the show so enjoyable — and at times, relatable — to watch.

The weakest plotline to me this season was Ian’s. (A quick disclaimer that I’ve found everything Ian’s done for the past few seasons incredibly irritating.) The season resumes with Ian desperately trying to win back Trevor after ghosting him for Mickey last season. In the process of trying to help Trevor’s at-risk LGBTQ+ kids, he manages to get in an exhausting battle with Fiona. He also somehow convinces the city of Chicago that he is “Gay Jesus.” His need to help the kids seemed genuine in the beginning of the season. By the end, though, it seemed completely narcissistic, to the point where he was doing far more harm than good. The last shot we see of Ian as he’s getting arrested hinted that he has perhaps finally realized the damage he’s done, so hopefully we’ll find him pulling himself together next season.

The season did have some shining moments that kept me coming back week to week. Fiona is finally on the rise, which has been such a long time coming. I love that they finally have Fiona starting to make decisions for herself, like moving out of the Gallagher house (oh, and finding herself a beautiful Irish man.) Debbie also had one of the best arcs this season, which I know many people are going to disagree with me on since she will always be the most hated Gallagher. Don’t get me started on that.

One of my favorite moments of the season followed Debbie attempting to obtain the “morning after” pill and showing how difficult that is, especially for teenage girls. My other favorite moments of the season surrounded the youngest, Liam, as he tries to maneuver being a low income person of color in an all-white private school.

The show is unique in the fact that we’ve watched this cast grow up, but now that they’re all reaching a point of adulthood, they have to juggle keeping the craziness that we love and not having a static storyline. It’s becoming a more and more difficult task for the creators of the show, it seems, but I still continued to come back and watch every week — which is something that I hardly have time to do anymore — so I believe the heart of the show is still alive. It might be more of a task for the viewers to allow the family to grow up than it is for the writers to keep coming up with crazy plotlines for the sake of it.

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