Shameless - Showtime

One of my favorite shows right now is Shameless.  I was looking for a new show to watch and heard about it from a friend of mine.  I watched the first episode the next day, and was hooked by the fifth episode.

The series is based on a British show of the same name, and follows the Gallagher clan-- a family of six kids with an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother.  It falls somewhere between comedy and drama-- the situations are beyond comical, but the characters are grounded in a reality that lies somewhere between dysfunctional and just plain sad.   

The characters all engage in questionable behavior, and almost never make the "right" decision, at least by society's standards.  But I love watching these characters grow into their imperfect selves.  And you can't help but root for them despite all their shortcomings.  The character development is strong, and it's interesting to see how the kids grow and change and how much their upbringing has influenced them.  The patriarch of the family, portrayed by William H. Macy, seems to drive decisions of the rest of the characters, especially in the earlier seasons.  I'm usually surprised by the storyline since it's not easily predicable.  I think it's partially because the characters tend to go against the norm, or what anyone who didn't grow up in an extremely dysfunctional household would consider normal.  As one friend put it, it's scary to think people actually live like this.

Shameless is not for everyone; there is a fair amount of sexually explicit material, more so than I've seen on most shows.  But if you can get past that, not only are the characters really strong, the acting is phenomenal.  And the storyline finds the perfect balance of humor, drama, and thanking your lucky stars that your family isn't even remotely this dysfunctional-- great to watch before going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

Seasons 1-6 are on Netflix, and season 7 just started on Showtime.