The final season finally came to the UK’s Netflix a few weeks ago, so I binged previous seasons to indulge myself in one of my favourite series of all time (yes, I know, Shameless are originally British and I watched it, but trust me the US version is million times better). For those who do not know, US Shameless is an American version of the hit British series Shameless. However, US Shameless only follows the British story in season 1. As of season 2, the US version starts moving forward and ultimately becomes a series of its own and the producers and writers have created one of the most outstanding and compelling stories in the history of US television programmes, in my humble opinion. The story is outstanding, the sense of deprivation real, there is no humour here or an attempt to laugh the issue off (as with the British version) and the acting is out of this world. The latter is particularly the case for Fiona (Emmy Rossum) who left in season 9, unlike her British counterpart who leaves at the end of season 1. US Fiona left in season 9 and we watched season 10 without her so I was hoping she might return at least for the final episode of the final season, but she didn’t (sadly!). According to the Hollywood Reporter, Rossum was supposed to return in the finale but COVID restrictions on travelling prevented that.
The final season really brought closure to the series with the gang being both dismantled but also staying together. I will not spoil it here as one really needs to watch it. But what I found striking in the final season is the concept of gentrification and how it affects local residents who lived in gentrified areas for generations. This concept appeared throughout the series in some developments, and it was obvious it is happening plus there were conversations about it, particularly in the last 3 or 4 seasons as the series was going towards the finale. But, whilst in other seasons this was just discussed, in the final season, this was properly tackled and not just on the level of the change but also, on the level of how gentrification affects human lives and how gentrification can bring a better quality of life but, at the same time, this should not be done the way it is often done, and Shameless 11 portrays this well, by simply driving people out of their native area at the expense of a more wealthy clientele.
The debate thus centres again on poverty and communities trying to survive and then the destitution and a sense of lost identity and belonging when one is driven out of their area through developments with not everyone having somewhere to go to. This was portrayed well with some characters doing well and moving happily but others did not do so well. In either case, there was a sense of regret for the change and the series finale also tackles race relations by vividly portraying the disappearance of the Black community in the part of Chicago’s South Side where the story is based. In addition to that, the final seasons also portray nicely communities disintegrating, the cost of living rising for a local population (hence, leaving too) as well as behavioural differences between the rich or the poor or middle class, working class and the unemployed and poor.
The series partially ended on a cliffhanger with unclear decisions made by Lip (Jeremy Allen White) and Kevin (Steve Howey) and V (Shanola Hampton) so it would be possible to potentially continue the series. It also remains unclear what happens with Debbie (Emma Kenney) and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky). Therefore, it is possible there will be a reunion and in the above article, producers explicitly say they wanted to continue and that you never know. So, let’s hope this beauty returns and we find out whether Carl opened a police bar, whether V and Kev moved and what on earth happened with Debbie and Fiona, etc.
US Shameless is a Showtime series but in the UK, it can be watched on UK Netflix.
Thank you for reading!
I absolutely loved the series for all the reasons you also mentioned; it is a social document and it brings forward such important issues, in a non-gregarious / superficial manner.
My reading is quite similar of yours; the only thread I would like to point out to is the social mobility (or the lack of it), which is clearly present and woven within, by focusing on almost one character / season. I had this very distinct taste of each character’s frustration that no matter what you do to have a better life, systemic discrimination processes will always take you back to square one and ‘put you in your place’. A really good series, indeed, and thank you for this review.