“People f**k up. That’s life. Family is supposed to be forever. They’re supposed to take care of you regardless what you do. That’s the whole point, otherwise why bother?”
~Frank Gallagher~ Order Room Service
Welcome to our Shameless Spotlight series. Each installment will focus on one of the major characters from Showtime’s Shameless. I was going to do the normal season catch up that you sometimes see before a new season begins except I realized soon after trying to explain the show to my best friend that Shameless isn’t one of those shows that you can just throw at a person and expect them to get it. I’m pretty sure my friend thought I was describing Sodom and Gomorrah. Although to be fair to her I definitely wasn’t describing The Partridge Family. So instead of breaking down each season I figured it would be better if you got to know the Gallagher’s and the a few of their friends.
Frank Gallagher (played by Emmy award winning, Oscar & Golden Globe nominated William H. Macy) grew up along with 3 other brothers (Clayton, Jerry, & Wyatt) in a pretty harsh living situation. His mother Peggy was no stranger to breaking the law and would often strike Frank whenever the mood struck. In Season 2 we learn that Frank’s mother Peggy is dying and has been released from prison after being convicted of manslaughter for killing 2 boys when the meth lab she was running exploded. Prior to this we had seen Frank numerous ways. Drunk, high, happy, frustrated, drunk. You get the idea right? Good. But we had never seen him truly scared and that’s exactly what he was because despite how much he had truly come to despise his mother for all the abuse she heaped on him he still loved her. She was his mom.
Despite having a higher than average intelligence the people in Frank’s life regard him as nothing more than a rambling drunk put there for either their amusement or aggravation depending on the day. This often includes his children who spend a more than normal amount of time cleaning up whatever mess Frank has gotten himself in to that week.
Other then the voice over in the beginning of the pilot episode we are first introduced to Frank when he is brought home by Tony the Cop passed out drunk. The next time we see Frank he is at his favorite neighborhood watering hole, The Alibi, signing over his disability check so he could get drunk again. Most of which goes towards a previous tab he had racked up. None of this money goes to helping his kids pay the electric bill they were scrounging up money for earlier that morning. We soon come to learn this behavior is the rule rather than the exception when it comes to choosing between the welfare of his kids or his own desires.
Now by this point you may be wondering why in hell any one in their right mind would like Frank let alone love him. And you would be right to wonder why. The guy lies, steals, has physically, mentally, and emotionally hurt his children and generally holds them in no regard to himself. As I write this even I’m not sure. Heck at one time he was willing to hand over the youngest, Liam, to his ex-wife Monica in exchange for her signature on settlement papers. The same woman who abandoned Liam and his other 5 siblings a year or so before that moment. He led his son Carl to believe he had cancer to try and trick a charity out of money. He literally stole food from his children. Put simply Frank is f**ked up.
When he found out Ian wasn’t biologically his kid and was instead a product of his wife’s drug induced affair with his brother Clayton it didn’t change how he felt towards Ian. When speaking with others he still referred to him as his son. Although to be fair it is quite possible he forgot that Ian wasn’t his. When he discovered Ian with another boy he supported and accepted his con. Granted it was in his own way of simply not caring, but still. He also never outed the guy Ian had been with despite the fact that you could tell he wasn’t overly fond of Mickey. Which had nothing to do with Ian and everything to do with Mickey never let Frank intimidate him.
He could be found on multiple times teaching Debbie and Carl how to survive in their world. When he unwittingly had sex with his son Lip’s girlfriend (you would have to see it to understand) Karen he allowed Lip to pee on him as a way of performing penance. He has also been known to show his kinda, sorta, not really girlfriend Sheila Jackson (Karen’s mom) kindness and genuine affection at times.
I chose Frank, the so called patriarch of the Gallagher clan, for the first in our series because he is the most difficult of all the characters to pin down. From one episode to the next I don’t know whether I love him or hate him. The same can probably be said for the rest of the Gallagher’s. With the exception of possibly Ian who I suspect merely tolerates Frank’s existence. And yet Shameless wouldn’t be the same without him. Good or bad the show, the Gallagher’s, and the viewers need Frank because he is our compass. Our guide that let’s us know there is a line and that line is Frank. If you find a character has done something that even Frank wouldn’t have dreamed of doing then you know they’ve gone too far and trust me that’s saying something.
Most Shameless Moment – When he kept Butterface from knowing about the call for her new heart and had sex with her which then led to her death.
Least Shameless Moment – When he was explaining to Carl where gay wieners go.