The sixth season of Shameless returned on January 10th and as usual it doesn't spare us the grime and dirt of living on the South Side in Chicago. None of the cast garnered any awards for this remarkable remake, except Joan Cusack for Guest Actress, which seems unfair since these are some of the best performances on television. Every year this show pushes the limits and sheds the cold hard truth about poverty in America and every year it's overlooked and snubbed by awards (just like any other deserving show or film).
There are hardly any honest depictions of the working class on television and I can't think of any other show that feels more authentic that this one. Teen pregnancy, domestic violence, drug abuse, rape, gun violence, mental illness, and poverty are just some themes that the writers address (and hit spot on). Shameless doesn't sugar coat, doesn't dress up the poor, and it doesn't lie to us. There is nothing glamorous about the Gallaghers and its hard to think of any other show who has such a diverse group group of main and supporting characters (which is sad because most of the actors are still white and male).
This show both broke stereotypes (Micky and Ian) and reinforced existing ones (Svetlana Milkovich, as well as any other depiction of a foreign character). We've witnessed murder, arrests, violence, love, and hardship and somehow this show is still not good enough to sit with the big boys. Just this season alone, which is only two episodes so far, Fiona falls in love with a heroin addict, Debbie gets pregnant and refuses to get an abortion, all while Carl becomes an arms dealer.
For those who think this show is farfetched and over-bloated, it isn't. It must be nice going your whole life without witnessing extreme poverty or going to a public inner city school, but yes this is how people live. This show brings together an array of characters from different socio-economic and racial backgrounds to tell stories of criminals, struggling parents, abused children, and just people trying to get by. Unfortunately there isn't this much honesty anywhere else on television because Shameless doesn't make us feel good about ourselves, but instead opens our eyes to the very real issues of our society. Nothing about this show feels falsified (though it is often bent for comedic effect) because the Gallaghers are not one in a billion, they very well may be the average American family.