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Monday, January 10, 2011

Shameless Pilot Review

This is a remake of a British show about an alcoholic father of six kids whose mother left long ago. Together, this dysfunctional family of enablers and partiers take care of each other and get into trouble. It premiered on Showtime last night, and it stars William H Macy, Emmy Rossum, and Joan Cusack. It's some great voyeuristic entertainment about poverty, but it needs to have a little more humor. Dark humor, of course, but still.

We haven’t seen the original show, so we can’t judge this remake based on that. The pilot moved fast, gave a good introduction of all the characters, and kept a sense of humor with some grittiness. None of the characters are flat, so far. It has a wild and fun tone, even though a lot of the subject matter is sad. Many families live this way, but this family makes it look at least a little thrilling. The show is loud and dark and energetic. Shameless is a little different from anything that’s on right now, in a good way, and the pilot was entertaining and enjoyable. Why did Emmy Rossum straighten her hair though? She looks way better with the natural curls. Good performance though, from her and the others. We want this show to settle down a little, find some focus, and get into some touching or bleak moments, like the one with the dad on the floor and Emmy Rossum doing his voice. This show feels like it’s on speed. It needs to have some quieter moments mixed in.

There’s nudity, bad language, and exploitation of poverty, but it all feels human. It's got a child torturing an animal as a joke and white trash stereotypes. It certainly won't win any awards for being tasteful or fair to its subjects, especially because anyone who has Showtime is relatively wealthy in comparison.

We hear the British version is better than this (because the British tend to respect the intelligence of their audience and let stupid people fall to the wayside, rather than dumb stuff down for the masses), so it makes us want to check that out. Plus, James McAvoy is in it. We will keep watching this American version, but we would guess that the true gold might be found in the original. If you’re interested in this though (and have Showtime) watch it, because we think it has loads of potential (unlike the lives of the people in Shameless). Who knows? Give it a season to brew and it might become a good show in its own right, separate from the British show, like the American The Office.

Pilot Grade: B

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