Under the category of “things we don’t really notice” is the set and costume design for a television series. In this, Shameless does impeccable work. From an upscale garden wedding to the dried vomit on Frank’s shirt, the show’s backdrop and fashion sense serve as the perfect palette for the Gallagher family’s never-dull lifestyle.
Just as Sheila has retreated into the comfort of her agoraphobia after her near-miss with the fallen landing gear, she learns that the body of her husband Eddie has been found. Frank is at first ecstatic over the prospect of some insurance benefits, but then becomes a prime suspect in Eddie’s death. When the detective (whom Frank calls a “bull dyke”) books him for sex with a child (Karen posted her entire sexual encounter with Frank on the Internet) it appears that, for once, Frank will not escape the legal system. But this cat pushes far past the requisite nine lives when Karen tells authorities that she raped him while he was on prescription drugs for his work injury. So, while Sheila consoles him by explaining that she is now free to marry (we see the fear in Frank’s eyes), Karen thanks him for killing her dad (although he didn’t). There is no forgiveness in Karen’s heart as she pees on her dad’s new grave marker.
After returning from accompanying her new friend Richard to a ritzy wedding, Fiona sees Steve standing in front of what used to be his house before he left town at the end of last season. It’s a great, understated moment as he briefly says he was looking for Tony (the cop who forced him out of town), tells Fiona how great she looks and then drives away.
Col. McNally stops by the house with a West Point application that Ian at first thinks is for him since Lip had said he had a contact to help Ian get into the school. But the application is for Lip. This leads to a violent altercation between Ian and his brother. It’s another example of the diversification within the family. They may be thieves, drug dealers and con artists but they are some of the most interesting and intelligent siblings in Chicago.
Meanwhile, the real sex in the city surrounds the Gallaghers. Karen marries Jody despite Lip’s objections and his belief that he could be the father of her future child. Carl rents Frank’s room to a hooker. V thinks Kev is cheating on her before finding out that the secret woman is only teaching him how to read. Debbie tries to send “pheromone” signals to Little Hank while Fiona emphatically tells her “hymen stays intact”. Ethel’s feelings for Malik are halted at friendship because of her elderly, multi-wived, fundamentalist husband Clyde who is currently serving time in federal prison. She really cares for the convicted child rapist: “It stopped hurting after the first couple dozen times.” So Malik tells her not to worry. His incarcerated father will take care of him. We learn what that means when Clyde is stabbed in the showers.
The biggest rule of morality in Shameless is that there are no rules. Instead, there is a twisted sense of justice that continually shifts. But, weirdly, it’s not a whole lot different from the justice witnessed in Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best some 50 years ago. It’s just that Shameless’ worldview is a tad wider and a bit more complex.