Here it is, kids. Shameless Season 1 Episode 2 in its entirety on youtube for your enjoyment.
And isn’t it wonderful that you can just type it into the search bar, and it’s there? You wouldn’t find that with most, if not all, US shows, but UK television seems to be a little more inclusive to its audience. UK shows want to be watched, want to include us, want to draw us in to their weird worlds and say, “Hey, this is weird and slightly depraved, but we like it.”
And isn’t that the idea of Shameless? This “lower-class” family whose house is always a mess, they fight, they argue, they have sex on the kitchen floor. But in the end, the kids all band together as a loving family that takes care of each other. The ending scene of the first episode is of all of them around the table eating together, and it’s lovely.
The kids in Shameless deal with things with wit and humor, much like many of Britain’s television shows. They take a terrible situation and make jokes in the wonderful, self-deprecating way that British comedy is able to make fun of itself and the problems of its country. Shameless should be a depressing drama, what with the children’s abandonment and the massive issues of the father. But it isn’t – it’s light and fun and dirty. And in episode 2 when Frank disappears after a huge drunken fight with the family, they don’t write him off – they go searching for him. Because no matter what he’s done, he’s still part of the family. They welcome him home with flags and cheers, (much to his dismay and embarrassment).
There’s a scene in Episode 2 in which Fiona and Steve think that the police are fishing Frank’s dead body out of the river, but it turns out to be a police PR stunt. Fiona’s emotion at thinking her abusive father is dead is heartbreaking, but the show throws it aside and makes a joke. And that, I think, is what British TV does best – gives us genuine emotion for a split second, and then cuts in with a witty, slightly inappropriate joke. And that makes for simply great TV.