A postmodern interpretation of Shameless will allow us to
unmask many of the biases and implicit messages embedded in the
media text. Postmodernism celebrates a form of art that transcends
material boundaries and limits to provoke relationships between
the material and immaterial (Blair, Jeppeson, and Pucci 264-271).
Blair defined postmodernism as a “disruption of the ‘normalized’”
to “reveal the non-necessity of what appears to be necessary”
(265). In other words, the scenario framing the situation comedy
points viewers, in many ways, toward the metanarrative of
American capitalism to dismantle the rigidity of the metanarrative
structure. Viewers understand the fragility of a broken, lower-
middle-class family because they understand the structure of
American capitalism. Throughout the show, the Gallaghers are
characterized as a family that has failed because of its collective
inability to make the “right” choices. The lack of agency all of the
characters exhibit within the series (at one time or another) is
demonstrative of American capitalism; the characters who fail to
engage a proper level of agency to pull themselves up by their
“bootstraps” are doomed, inevitably, to poverty.
In sum, the scenario of Shameless acts as both a context
through which the characters navigate in attempts to find a
resolution and as a microcosmic structure through which viewers
can understand the metanarrative of capitalism in America. To put
it differently, Shameless offers us a sample of what it means to be a
White, lower-middle-class citizen in the United States during the
early part of the twenty-first century. It is through the actions of
this trying group of characters that viewers explore the burdens
they carry within the show, but the series also creates a space for
viewers to develop a sense of the experience of real people
different from themselves and, perhaps, an to locate opening for
developing empathy. Therefore, the scenario in which the series
Shameless has been constructed can function as a tool to critique
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