If someone told me the first time Mickey Milkovich graced my TV screen, in all his dirt-faced glory, that he would become one of my favorite characters of all time, I would have told that person they were cray. Surely nothing more than a slimy, punk-ass, bully side character, how could “the dirtiest white boy in America” possibly become one of the most important, most beloved characters not only to me, but to fans all over the world?
Post “Gallavich” anywhere on the internet and you will get a variety of people you don’t even know harping on about how “Ian didn’t deserve Mickey!” or, “Shameless will never be the same without Mickey!” promptly followed by the hashtag #MickeyDeservedBetter. Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher) and Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan), affectionately referred to by their ship name “Gallavich,” were torn apart once again in Season 7, Episode 11 in a way that seems too devastatingly permanent to resurrect again in Season 8.
Heartbroken and furious, Gallavich fans around the world united in a slew of social media petitions against the demon writers of Showtime's #Shameless, as they watched through teary eyes the final goodbye between star-crossed lovers Ian and Mickey. Clearly I too have some issues with this blatant character assassination, and you’re about to hear them. Here are seven very necessary, very long-winded reasons why Mickey Milkovich deserved better, and why Ian (and the writers) can go suck an egg for breaking his delicate heart.
1. Mickey Came Out For Ian, Despite Almost Being Murdered By His Own Father
In one of the more explosive coming-outs in television history, #MickeyMilkovich revealed his sexuality to a bar filled with people — including his drunken, hot-tempered, homophobic father — just to satisfy Ian, who had basically given him an ultimatum of losing him for good. In the end, Mickey’s fear of losing Ian was stronger than his fear of society’s rejection, as well as the self-hatred he harbored within.
Ian had pushed him hard, even after witnessing firsthand the gravity of the dementedly abusive situation Mickey faced at home with his psychopathic father (I mean, he forced his own son at gunpoint to have sex with a prostitute — we’re not just going to forget about that, are we?). Even though Ian’s relentless pressure on Mickey to come out was in many ways selfish, what he did for Mickey in this moment was monumental for his character. Mickey learned to silence his internal struggle and began to love and accept his true self, all because of his immense love for Ian and the sanctuary he found in their deeply rooted connection:
“Ian, what you and I have makes me free — not what these assholes know.”
2. He Stood By And Cared For Ian During His Struggle With Bipolar Disorder
Even though Ian would resent him for this, Mickey tried his damnedest to nurture and protect Ian during both his manic and depressive states. He insisted on keeping Ian at home where he could be safe, comfortable, and be with his family.
Mickey tried to keep their relationship as normal (in terms of Shameless) as possible, believing he and Fiona could take care of Ian successfully by themselves. Mickey fought valiantly to do right by Ian, but when Ian’s wants clashed with what he needed, Mickey was fighting a losing battle. At this point, Ian had transferred his frustration with his illness onto Mickey, and no matter what Mickey did it was met with outraged defiance from Ian. When caring for Ian at home proved to be failing (and overall more detrimental to Ian’s health), Mickey let Fiona convince him to put Ian in treatment.
“You did OK, Mickey. Y’know, you tried. That’s a lot more than most people would do.”
3. His Partner? Lover? Family?
At the end of Season 5, Mickey tells Ian he loves him and Ian questions what that means. Mickey responds:
" It means we take care of each other. It means thick and thin. Good times, bad, sickness, health — all that shit."
What is beautiful and heartbreaking about this line is that Mickey didn’t just say these words, he lived and proved them throughout the entirety of this season. Ian seems to think Mickey doesn’t accept him for who he is with his illness, but on the contrary, there’s no one who has shown him more acceptance or unconditional love — including the rest of the Gallagher siblings.
Ian was home for Mickey. Mickey was right beside him, dealing with this roller coaster of traumatic ups and downs like a champion, and even though seeing Ian in the hospital — sedated and totally detached — left Mickey completely broken up, even that wasn’t enough to make him run. Mickey was ride or die for Ian, willing to risk everything for him. It’s just disappointing after everything Mickey sacrificed for Ian, that he wasn’t willing to do the same in return.
4. Ian Complained To Caleb That 'Mickey Wasn’t Much Of A Talker'
In the dialogue between Ian and Caleb on their first date in Season 6, it’s like the writers want to brainwash us into believing that Mickey was abusive and their relationship had been nothing but destructive and toxic. But anyone who has watched the show would know this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s disingenuous to Mickey’s character and disrespectful to the fans of the show. Just watch this video below, edited by BigSalamiEdits, for evidence of Ian's constant rejection of Mickey’s every effort to communicate.
It’s even more baffling to note that the very things Ian mocks Mickey for in Season 5 — i.e., making sure he was taking his meds responsibly, being sensitive to his needs, showing genuine concern for Ian’s wellbeing — is exactly what Ian deceived others into thinking he didn't do. Why you lyin’, Ian?
5. The Only Reason Mickey Was Serving Time In The First Place Was For Trying To Avenge Ian
This storyline marks the turning point of where the writers completely failed Mickey, damning any chance of future happiness or success by writing him a jail sentence of 15 years for attempted murder — that he never even attempted, mind you.
Anyways, Mickey would never have been thrown in jail if it wasn’t for “South Side rules” and his wanting revenge on Frank’s eldest daughter Sammi, who reported Ian to the military for going AWOL in hopes of getting revenge for her son Chuckie being sent to juvy because of Carl’s shenanigans. Phew, is this web of revenge confusing anyone else?
Mickey’s fierce loyalty and protectiveness of Ian was his Achilles' heel in this instance. He couldn’t let this injustice to Ian go, and mixed with his thuggish, DIY South Side upbringing, this was a jail sentence waiting to happen.
6. The 'New' Ian Acts As If Mickey Is Just A Bad Habit He’s Got To Kick
During a heart-to-heart, Fiona tells Ian that Mickey would set a match to his newfound success, and that he’s better off without him. But is he, though?
To imply that being with Mickey would ruin Ian is insulting. Yes, Mickey is a criminal. He’s rash and doesn’t make the best decisions when he feels backed into a corner. But as we’ve seen, Ian’s done a fine job of getting himself into messed-up situations.
In a lot of ways, Ian is to Mickey what Monica is to Frank. Mickey may have his flaws, but there ain’t nobody out there who will love Ian the way he does. Frank’s one redeeming quality was the way in which he loved the crap out of Monica. They might fight like savages, but you can’t deny their explosive chemistry and passion for one another. She was the only light in his otherwise very dark world.
Like Frank chasing Monica through all her cracked-out ups and downs, her illness and flightiness repeatedly leaving him brokenhearted, Mickey will always come back to Ian. He will always harbor these feelings, no matter what separates them and for how long they're separated. Mickey only ever wanted what was best for Ian, and many people would be lucky to have someone like that in their lives.
7. Why Bring Him Back, Just To Do Him Dirty Like That?
When Ian and Mickey are standing at the Mexican border and Mickey says, “We’re almost to the finish line,” I fully believe that he meant the two were almost free to live their lives as a real couple, safe from every external factor that threatened to tear the two apart. But the writers just couldn’t give Mickey that happy ending, could they?
He deserved so much more than this typical Jimmy/Steve write-off, and Jimmy/Steve didn't deserve to be done that dirty.
With Mickey, a character was brought to life who came from so much pain, hate and destructiveness, and showed us that even he could find love and acceptance in the most unexpected of places. Even more unlikely, out of all the characters on the show, he was the one who taught us the most about absolute, unconditional, irrevocable love.
There was something almost transcendental about Mickey and Ian’s relationship in comparison to the rest of the show. It was a tragic, beautiful love that felt raw, authentic and refreshing, compared to any relationship we’ve watched unfold on screen. Time never seemed to be on their side, but still we rooted for both these characters to be happy — and just wanted them to be together, dammit!
While I’ve been kinda harsh to Ian, I really do believe at the end of Season 7, Episode 11 that he genuinely meant that “I love you.” He left Mickey with all of his life savings and that action alone, especially for a Gallagher, would require a grievous amount of love toward the recipient of such a parting gift. At least we know he wanted more than anything to give Mickey the chance of a good life, even if he wouldn’t be a part of it.
Either way, I can’t get down with the disrespect that has been shown to this character, who deserved so much more out of life. We're yet to know until the next season airs if this is a goodbye, or just a see you later. This is where I hop off the Shameless train. If Mickey’s out, so am I.
Season 8 of Shameless will air on Showtime in 2017. Check out the teaser below and tell us about your hopes for Gallavich in the comments section.
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[Main Image Credit: Showtime]