Frank Gallagher put it best when he called Karen Jackson (played by the talented Laura Wiggins) as “a beautiful mess”, because never have those words had more meaning than when they were used to describe Karen. It’s possible that out of all the characters that she was the one who was the most damaged, and I don’t just mean that in reference to the state she left the series in. No, I mean emotionally damaged.
Which is ironic considering that when we first meet her it would have been safe to describe her as fun, bubbly, and full of energy. She was just the person we wanted with Lip because he deserved something good and wholesome in his life. Except Karen was none of those things. Yes, we could say that it was all due to having a fanatical father who didn’t know how to show love, or to having a mother who was too trapped in her own mental hell to truly be there for her daughter and they would be true. But, when it comes to having crappy parents she got the best of the bunch. In fact, I would harbor to say that plenty of others would have loved to have Sheila for a mother and not their own train wreck versions.
Karen is the ultimate chick with “daddy issues”, and rather than Lip finding her to be a free spirit when she agreed to give his brother a blow job, he should have run in the other direction. But, hindsight being 50/50 and all, you can’t really blame him for falling in love with her. She didn’t start showing just how emotionally screwed up she was until her dad called her out for being a whore. Which I always found odd considering the only reason she agreed to go to the Purity Ball was because Eddie bribed her with the car, but we are supposed to believe that suddenly her dad’s opinion of her meant something to her. Sorry, not buying it.
Okay, yes I understand that being called a whore in front of a bunch of people you don’t know by your own father has to be emotionally devastating, but up until that point she never gave any impression that she gave a shit about him in the first place. In fact, the only person she ever showed that she cared about as much as herself was Sheila and even that had its limitations. Karen spent most of her time looking out for herself and pursuing whatever made her happy.
Of course no matter how much of a raging bitch she may have been she didn’t deserve to be hit by a car. Of course who could have guessed that Mandy’s act of sheer insanity would lead to a nicer, more caring version of Karen? Shortly after she came home from the hospital she told Lip that she could no longer feel, I disagree with that statement. I think for the first time she was able to feel something for someone other than herself. It’s sad that it took getting hit by a car for her to have anything more than disdain for her own child.
And it wasn’t even like her decent to the dark side was gradual it had always been there right below the surface hidden by a pretty face and sweet smile. It would be easy to blame her actions on her messed up childhood or the complete lack of self-respect she had for herself. It would be easy to dismiss them because Sheila didn’t go to her parent-teacher conferences or because her dad was a clown worshiping zealot. Except, maybe she was never a nice person to begin with, and we just wanted to believe that she was for Lip and Sheila’s sake because they loved her. I guess now we will never know.
Most Shameless Moment: Extorting money from couples wanting to adopt Hymie.
Least Shameless Moment: Threatening to kill Eddie if he kept laughing at her mother.