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‘Shameless’ Spotlight on Fiona Gallagher

I can’t believe that after a little more than eight months the fourth season of Shameless is premiering in one-week. I also can’t believe that it has taken eight months to write these Shameless Spotlights. That’s eight months worth of watching and analyzing and attempting to see beyond the lines to something more subtle and often harder to spot. I’ve enjoyed each and every one of the characters of Shameless. Some I came to like a little bit more than I did before their turn in the spotlight and some I found myself liking less and less, but they all taught me something I will take on in future writings. Of course, no one did this more than Fiona Gallagher (played with heart and depth seemingly beyond her years by Emmy Rossum), the oldest of the Gallagher kids.
And often the one who was most maligned by both her family and the fans. The biggest complaint I would read about her character is that she was missing some important part of her sibling’s lives and they were often right, she was. However, I think the point often overlooked is when Monica left Fiona was barely more than 18-years-old an age when most young women are thinking of going to the Prom and applying for colleges. The one responsibility they may have is making sure they make it to their afterschool job or making sure to put gas in the car after they use it.

What they don’t have to worry about is how they are going to feed a family of six. They don’t have to worry about whether or not their alcoholic father is going to steal the money they saved to keep the electricity on. They don’t have to worry about making doctor’s appointments and doing lice checks. Fiona had to worry about this and more. So yeah, she wasn’t the perfect mother, but she was and is damn sure better than the one they had.
If anything, Fiona is still very much a kid herself. When you are forced to grow up faster than normal there is a part of you that will forever remain a kid. From the time she was 6-years-old she knew that the lives of her siblings was in her hands and no one other than her was going to give a damn what happened to her or them so it was her responsibility to make sure Lip, Ian, Debbie, Carl, and Liam grew up differently than she did. Debbie would never know what it was like to be stranded by her own father on the side of the road with two babies. Lip would never have to drop out of school in order to put food on the table. Ian would never know what it was like to have to search out medical care for a sick sibling in the middle of the night. In short, if Fiona could control or change anything it would be that her brothers and sisters didn’t have to grow up the way she did.

Is she going to make mistakes? Of course she is. The only example she had on how to be a parent was Frank and Monica Gallagher, two of the worst examples a kid could have. Oh sure there are others worse than those two, but they were pretty damn bad. The truth is Fiona barely knows how to be a 23-year-old woman let alone mom to five kids. So yeah, she is going to make mistakes. She isn’t going to be there for everything that happens in their lives. She isn’t going to be able to help them with all their problems or be there to wipe away every tear. On the other hand what parent is able to do all those things?

Most Shameless Moment: Letting Debbie pretend that she was “molested” by their cousin Patrick in order to keep the house.

Least Shameless Moment: Cutting the toe off a dead woman in order to pass her off as her recently departed Aunt Ginger.

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