and explore metanarratives that seem external to the show itself. It
is for this reason, and based on this larger context, that I argue
Shameless represents a sub-genre of comedy that simultaneously
celebrates the characters on the series and the critiques the context
in which they endure and, occasionally, thrive.
Scenario and Survival
The Gallaghers are in no denial about their socioeconomic
status. Often, the children of the family collaborate to gather the
money and supplies needed for survival. Even the youngest, Liam,
is expected to participate in the collection of resources. Early in
the series, viewers catch a glance at the Gallaghers’s routine as
Fiona delegates assignments to each child to make the month’s
quota for rent, food, utilities, and supplies. Many of the requests
are unorthodox, unethical, and illegal, which indicates desperation
to secure the goods and a level of comfort with breaking the rules
to survive. Such requests extend even to the youngest child, which
is seen when Fiona asks Ian to steal milk from a local delivery
truck. In fact, a great many scenes and storylines of the show center
on the different strategies the Gallaghers devise to get the goods
and on their keen instincts for obtaining what they need for
survival. When 15-year-old Debbie becomes pregnant, Fiona
insists that the young mother-to-be either have an abortion or find
her own means to support the baby. Desperate for motherhood,
Debbie decides to keep the child. She struggles for weeks to find
financial stability until she stumbles upon the lucrative business of
stealing and re-selling luxury cribs. It is obvious that questions of
legality do not interfere with Debbie’s need to secure the cash she
needs. Frank Gallagher is frequently absent, but when around, he
often models questionable morality. When he discovers that
coverage for a transplant has been denied, for example, Frank
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