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'Shameless' fan react: It's always about money

Season 5 | Episode 4 | “A Night to Remem…Wait, What?” | Aired Jan 31, 2015

Considering that the severe economic turmoil affecting a large majority of Americans is still prevalent today, years after one of the worst economic recessions in history ransacked the nation, it’s shocking more shows don’t include it in their narrative—like Shameless does.

There may be offhanded comments about a personal lack of funds sitting in a bank account, but the idea of poverty as a whole seems to shake every writer and producer to their core.

Inevitably, most shows end up focusing their attention on a group of friends living Sex and the City-like fantastical lives, without ever actually working the kind of high-powered jobs needed to secure the real estate they’re occupying, or picturesque families living in a perpetual state of oblivious suburban bliss.

Shameless has been one of only a handful of shows to not only discuss the poverty problem plaguing the country, but earnestly address the uncomfortable feeling of living in everlasting chaos that comes from living in economic inequality … while trying to masquerade as a more affluent person.

The question of who someone identifies as when confronted with the potential of the person they’re on the path of becoming is vital to the show’s progression. It has never been a more central theme than it has this season.

After spending a year at school and befriending the ever-wealthy Amanda, Lip returns to the other side of the train tracks, and tries to pick up with his old buddies and neighbors where he left off.

His trek from the land of fictitious wealth he experienced vicariously through Amanda is captured beautifully on his subway ride home. No words are spoken, but with each stop, more and more wealthy-looking types leave as more interesting characters step on. Lip glances around, for the first time acknowledging that he’s living two separate lives and forlornly remembering the year he had with Amanda.

It gets even more confusing for Lip when he arrives back home and is greeted by an old friend who asks him to come and toke for a second so they can catch up with each other.

At first he’s ecstatic. Things seem to be back to normal, but it only takes a few minutes of conversation to realize the people he once considered close friends are embarking down a path that he wants nothing to do with—harder drugs, teenage pregnancies, and recycling the same lifestyles their parents had when they were their age.

He cops an excuse and runs back to the other side of the street, literally changing the side of the path he wants to walk down, and while he knows that he made the right decision, there’s a feeling of uncomfortable disembodiment as he struggles between the new person he’s obviously turned into and the person he’s been his entire life.

He realizes that he’s not one of the crew anymore. It’s no longer an “us versus them” scenario, put up as a front to deal with the decaying life found in his neighborhood, but a “them versus me” situation.

It escalates when he can’t stop his old girlfriend, Mandy, the person who believed in him the most and effectively gave him the push down the path he needed to be on, from leaving with her abusive boyfriend. When it seems that he’s lost control of his entire life upon returning home, he messages Amanda and smiles.

He remembers that he’s become someone else entirely and begins to shed his former skin, as he grows more comfortable in his new one.

On top of Lip’s personal struggle to deal with the economic divide he’s experiencing firsthand, this season has introduced the larger issue of gentrification. Frank, the show’s main character and resident anarchic alcoholic asshole, violently opposes the idea of their little hole in the wall turning into the next trendy neighborhood. He lectures anyone who will listen about how they’ll be pushed out of their own neighborhood so richer, whiter folks can come in and do yoga in a new area while sipping on overpriced Starbucks lattes.

He, and, as the season progresses, more and more of the neighborhood, know that they’re not living the American dream. But they’re proud of the community they’ve built up, and they don’t want to be the victims of another classist movement.

When the soul of a community is its people, it’s hard to see the tearing down of each other’s homes and the desecration of their bars, shops, and restaurants as anything other than a personal attack. The message? “Your neighborhood has potential, but you’re the reason it’s not succeeding, and we want you out.”

Shameless continues to provoke questions about the unfair treatment that often comes with classist ideologies, and it manages to do so authentically, without satirizing or bemoaning the hardships of everyday American people. It’s standing on rooftops and yelling about the unjust society that ignores or tramples all over the little holes in the walls, desperate for people to sit down, listen, and think about what’s happening in their own communities.

It’s broke, it’s hungry, it’s filthy, and it refuses to give up, season after season.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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