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Remakes repel me. Wouldn't it be more interesting and culture-friendly
to just air the original in America ? There're reasons why the British
series is successful after all and I question the decision to adapt a
foreign recipe in order to make it more digestible for a specific
audience. That's why it took me a while to decide either or not the
show deserved my attention. Now that I have seen the pilot I absolutely
not regret my change of heart. Moreover when you think about it the
arguments in its favor are numerous enough. However when it comes to
Showtime I tend to raise my eyebrows because despite some undeniable
qualities productions like Californication and Weeds are definitely not
my cup of tea. Otherwise they're just the tip of the iceberg because in
my humble opinion Dexter is a masterpiece, at least until season 6, and
The Borgias was enchainting.
But let's go back to Shameless. I instantly digged its concept, following a dysfunctional family, because we all have issues. Your mother is a Queen ? Your five years old sister demolished your tower defense highscore ? William H. Macy was the second thing that convinced me to give the show a chance. Indeed his dual performance in Umney's Last Case (Nightmares & Dreamscapes) was delightful so I highly anticipated his role as a drunken father. Sadly it's only a minor one but at least he did a good job and you should enjoy the small gathering scene. The other excuse I found, yes because it confused my senses, is Emmy Rossum. I've always been fascinated by performers breaking the barriers of their own cells to free their talent and shatter the audience. Does Christian Bale in The Machinist ring a bell ? Rossum's transformation is nothing jaw dropping but I really enjoyed that she just looked like the sad girl next door. Without make up, a messy haircut and none of the glamorous attributes that shine on her promotional photos. So considering I had never seen her before her empathic role as Fiona Gallagher confirmed that smoking beauty and real talent can mix on TV !
In the entertaining department we have the best of what Showtime has to offer. From shocking to sex-driven scenes there're plenty of guilty pleasures to appeal the network addicts. However shame on them for not promoting safe sex ! At least they had the decency of keeping Rossum's curves in the dark, making her even more charming and sexy. Anyway these are minor details compared to the story. Yes because in the end it's all about the characters and the obstacles they have to overcome in order to survive the harsh reality ! From addictions to sexuality many interesting and disturbing topics are covered. Add an immersive production with a slightly amateurish visuals and you have a winner ! The wicked minds behind the show also had the wise idea of enriching the story with a more conventional arc. Indeed Fiona can be seen as a modern Cinderella. She's actually inspiring because she takes care of everybody and the ongoing romance intrigued me. Moreover the writers twisted things a little, making an event very surprising. I just didn't see it coming !
In the end it seemed the remake had potential. Between two dramas there was even room for comedy but don't expect Shameless to be a dramedy ! However my fear is that the audience will probably never see the end of it. Indeed the original has already 10 seasons and in this installment I didn't really see a glimpse of hope. It actually reminded me of Hung because I fell in love with it during its first season but gave up on it during the second because it just seemed hopeless. When characters have issues, they have to solve them. Of course you can't become sober overnight nor improve your social condition in a few weeks but I just hate neverending series. Still I have read some raving reviews about Emmy Rossum's performance in later episodes and the preview revealed that the next installment should shock the audience even more !
Note : This review was first posted on Kritikenstein, my weblog.
The pilot episode was vaguely interesting. Unfortunately not enough so
to keep me from switching between it and other new shows. This is the
TV story of a poor family in Detroit who works together for the good of
the whole. The hook is their work is mostly shifty. The dad collects
disability checks from getting hit in the chest by a headless chicken
while working at the local meat packing plant. He then proceeds to get
pass-out drunk EVERY night. One daughter collects money for UNICEF but
doesn't give it to the organization. One son tutors, even telling his
client as she's giving him oral sex he'll have to still charge her as
it's his job.
There is the usual amount of Showtime nudity, which seems to be what they're using for a formula these days. Breasts + seedy characters + course language = hit. It worked for Californication I suppose. Not so much for Shameless.
Perhaps if they shift focus to the kids more and the scams they're running it would be more entertaining. More useful at any rate. As it is, not only is it nothing we haven't seen before, it's nothing most of us (or at least childhood friends) haven't lived before either.
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