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Shameless Review: "A Beautiful Mess" (Episode 2.04)

January 30, 2012  |  4:00pm
<i>Shameless</i> Review: "A Beautiful Mess" (Episode 2.04)

Comedy thrives on the unexpected, those times when every day life collides with sudden change. And Shameless thrives on such changes. Fiona’s (Emmy Rossum) adulterous moment with a high school dream, albeit a completely unsatisfactory coupling, is not what we’ve come to expect from Fiona. Being the “rock” of the Gallagher family, her street sense of ethics is usually commendable. Payback for her digression has now come to bite in the form of a vengeful wife whose constant harassment of Fiona begins to take its toll. By the end of the episode the comic has become tragic in its effect on Fiona. The only one enjoying it is Frank (William H. Macy) who is somehow proud of his daughter’s further advancement into immorality. “I have waited for this day.”

Debbie (Emma Kenney) continues to run the summer daycare business out of the house, but the stress hits her in the form of a rash. Fiona’s prescription? A kids’ sleepover. (Fiona reaches out to Steve again, leaving him a message to come to the party, but there’s no response.) Debbie’s lack of friends, however, makes for an awkward night of scary movies and emerging hormones from a diverse age range. It all leads to disaster. As Debbie’s role in the series expands, so does her talent. This half-pint can act.

V and Kev’s foster child Ethel (Madison Davenport)—who has a child of her own from her elderly fundamentalist bigamist husband—becomes attracted to a local boy who also has a child, and he suggests a play date. V’s protective motherly instinct kicks in. At times V’s character comes across as TV’s stereotypical black hairdresser living in the hood and talking trash. But V is atypical. She has a white husband, a white foster child and takes issue with an African-American boy being interested in Ethel: “I don’t hate all black people, Kev, just the ones who make babies at 14 and probably can’t read.”

When Frank realizes that Sheila the agoraphobic (Joan Cusack) is days from venturing into The Alibi bar—the place where everybody knows his name, and his reputation, and where Sheila thinks he works—he looks for ways to dissuade her from getting out in the world. But all means fail (including a sniper attempt that backfires into his face). When the time comes to accompany Frank to his “job” divine intervention crashes down in the form of an airliner’s tire, missing Sheila by inches. A reason to stay home is found as Frank says a thank you to the heavens. The crash is also a crash to the senses since it is totally unexpected, but greatly appreciated on a humorous level. No harm, no foul.

The chemistry between Macy and Cusack leads to some of the best moments in the series. The frisky Sheila attempts to wake Frank with a bit of bed play, singing “This Little Piggie” as her foot explores where no foot has gone. When he protests she explains, “You said no toys.”

After Lip tries everything to keep Karen away from Jody, she reveals in a moment of rage the real reason she wants to marry Jody. She’s pregnant. “Stay the fuck away from me,” she shouts as she kicks Lip repeatedly. “And stay the fuck away from this baby!” The assumption is that Lip is the father. The family soup thickens.

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