Shameless showrunner John Wells (ER) told the New York Times back in 2010 that the “reality is that these people aren’t ‘the other’ – they’re people who live four blocks down from you and two blocks over.” The reality is an alcoholic single father named Frank Gallagher with six kids on the South Side of Chicago. He doesn’t have a chance, and it’s a credit to the viewership of the show that they don’t turn away. There are easier things to watch. A couple of episodes of Shameless and you won’t call things like Real Housewives of New York “reality TV.” Shameless is Reality TV. How it decided to enter itself as a comedy–despite some funny moments–is hard to fathom.
The talent level here is as high as anywhere television is being made. As Gallagher, movie star William H. Macy drives the action. Anyone besides Macy who gets the 2014 lead actor Emmy should thank his stars that not enough people want to immerse themselves in the bleak Shameless environment. Guests shine too, here, though Joan Cusack’s 2014 Emmy nomination as a guest actress stretches the definition a little–she appeared on 90% of the shows. And she won as a “guest” in 2013. Emmy Rossum and Jeremy Allen White, also amazing, shouldn’t have been overlooked.