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Episode Review: 'Shameless' a crass, guiltless pleasure

Showtime

By Alec Stern, Daily Arts Writer
Published February 14, 2013

It has always upset me that people don’t talk about “Shameless” enough. The ratings are just as good as “Homeland” ’s, yet it seems to fly completely under the radar, both among critics and by the Emmys each year. However, this week’s episode, “The Helpful Gallaghers” makes it pretty clear why.

The reason “Shameless” has been so neglected is nobody wants to admit that a show so crass could be so good. It’s hard to imagine how the guys at Showtime, or the Gallaghers, get away with the stuff they do. It crosses so many lines and is, of course, completely and utterly shameless.

This episode highlights everything about “Shameless” that would make you think twice about declaring your love publicly. Frank takes a break from drugging Sheila’s special-needs grandchild and convinces Carl that he has cancer in order to scam a spot in a camp for dying children. Fiona tries to organize a coup against her boss, who demands oral sex from his employees. Debbie discovers that Mandy’s preteen sister is a hermaphrodite, and Jimmy finally learns that his father is gay and has been sleeping with his girlfriend’s younger brother.

This episode does what “Shameless” does best. You will feel uncomfortable, laugh at things you aren’t supposed to laugh at and cover your eyes because it’s just plain wrong. But you won’t be able to look away. You may not want to admit it, but deep down you love “Shameless,” and this episode is just another reason why. Hollywood probably won’t have the courage to recognize this show any time soon (though Emmy Rossum is desperately deserving of a nomination), but, nonetheless, “Shameless,” and especially “The Helpful Gallaghers,” is damn good.