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Shameless U.S. – Season One – Episode Three: "Aunt Ginger" Review

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Written by : published Friday 15th July 2011

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Watch Shameless (US) here: http://www.thetvking.com/tvshows/18427/shameless-us/ 

There was a very strong feeling of real grit and soul in this third episode of Shameless U.S.  Aunt Ginger was the first time the series has felt truly authentic, like we were watching a real family with real troubles and problems. This being a comedy, the underlying tongue-in-cheek qualities of the first two episodes continued to wash over the drama, but we now seem to have settled into the world of the Gallagher family; we aren’t simply watching actors caricaturing their U.K counterparts anymore.

 

In this episode, the Gallaghers are presented with quite the problem: Frank (William H. Macy) has been cashing the social security cheques of Aunt Ginger, the owner of the house they occupy, who now resides in a care home in Wisconsin. When a lady from the Office of the Inspector General pays Fiona (Emmy Rossum) a visit looking for the home owner, Frank’s scheme comes unravelled, with an unexpected revelation: Aunt Ginger has been dead for twelve years.

 

Things aren’t looking good for Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan) either. His chivalry at school has drawn the unwanted attentions of Mandy Milkovich (Jane Levy), and after rebuffing her advances, he is falsely accused of forcing himself on her, to the fury of her three older brothers. Seeing red, the violent trio, led by psychotic Mickey (Joel Fisher) wreak havoc in the neighbourhood, assaulting Lip (Jeremy Allan White) and loitering outside Kash and Grab waiting for Ian to rear his head.

 

Fiona’s dilemma in Aunt Ginger (bar the Aunt Ginger dilema) was whether or not she should get back together with Steve (Justin Chatwin). Police officer Tony (Tyler Jacob Moor) presents Fiona with a second romantic option and, as the episode opens, the pair are in the back seat of his squad car having sex. Unbeknown to Fiona, she is taking his virginity, a big deal for Tony who sees Fiona, and always has seen her, as his soul mate. For Fiona though, this encounter is just a rebound after breaking up with Steve last week.

 

Of the actors portraying the residents of the Back of the Yards neighbourhood in Shameless U.S., Justin Chatwin seems the least convincing. He has yet to shine as Steve, a role James McAvoy brought to life effortlessly in the original U.K series. The same applies to Steve Howey who plays Kev, breezing in and out of scenes for no particular reason and inexplicably shown naked at every available opportunity. Perhaps Showtime are using this as a ploy to keep female viewers interested? Who knows?

 

The comedy is this week’s episode was solid where it needed to be. Frank’s original solution to the Aunt Ginger problem was amusing, everyone quite easily able to see that the stand-in for Ginger he’d kidnapped was, not only a man, but a familiar face in the neighbourhood, someone everybody knew. Macy continues to make the role his own, bringing a kind authenticity to Frank that many die-hard fans of the original series thought impossible.

 

Aunt Ginger though, was, in many ways, not a funny episode. Its subject matter was raw and tough; Ian’s sexuality, Sheila’s (Joan Cusack) agoraphobia, and the gut-wrenching affects of senility. It wasn’t enjoyable to watch young Debbie (Emma Kennedy) forced to let go of the titular Aunt Ginger who came to reside at the Gallagher residence for a day. We knew what was coming, but it was still uneasy viewing. In desperately finding a solution to their latest problem, the Gallaghers inadvertently subjected one of their own to a very traumatic experience.

 

The episode ended with some poignant scenes. The crushing weight of Shiela’s condition was soothed by Frank in a brief but touching scene; the family of the supposed Aunt Ginger appealing on television for an investigation into her day-long disappearance (proving that someone did care for the old lass after all); and Fiona making her choice, for right or wrong.

 

It was nice to see that Shameless U.S. is now borrowing elements from the original series rather than directly copying from it, a trend we all hope the writers continue. The main gripe people seemed to have with the Pilotepisode and episode two, Frank the Plank, was the feeling of déjà vu the material conjured up; we’d seen it done before and done better, but like the U.S. Office, it seems that Shameless U.S. is now starting to find its own feet.

 

8/10

About the author JakeCunliffe125

JakeCunliffe125

I am a first year Journalism student studying at Huddersfield University. So far so good.

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