TV Show Review

TV Review: SHAMELESS: Season 5, Episode 12: Love Songs (In the Key of Gallagher) [Showtime]

Emmy Rossum Steve Kazee Shameless Love Songs In the Key of Gallagher

Showtime‘s Shameless Love Songs (In the Key of Gallagher) TV Show Review. Shameless: Season 5, Episode 12: Love Songs (In the Key of Gallagher) was surprising in many respects, with relationships burgeoning, ending, and self-destructing.

One of the relationships that burgeoned emotionally was the one between Debbie Gallagher (Emma Kenney) and Derek (Luca Oriel), each expressing briefly held sentiments to each other. It was a great moment because the viewer knew what was truly transpiring behind-the-scenes.

Debbie is so warped now, she has become the Carol Peletier (The Walking Dead reference) of Shameless. She is indifferent to other people’s thoughts and feelings, only seeing her own goals and needs. In many respects, she is becoming her absentee father.

Debbie raped the first boy she slept with and now she is forcing fatherhood onto a fellow teenager who only wants to be with a cool girl, have sex, and attend high school. Her birth-control duplicity is cruel, unfair, and a wonderful character arc. Debbie has grown dark this season and I hope the trend continues, as it has with Carol. Debbie transitioned from a peripheral character this season to one the viewer looks forward to seeing on-screen.

Fiona Gallagher (Emmy Rossum) telling Debbie not to make a rash decision was “the crow calling the raven black.” Fiona had no legs to stand on and Debbie called her out on it (“You married your husband after only knowing him for what? Two days? Do you even love him?”). It was a brilliant moment, an outside-of-the-Shameless-universe moment. The real world was peeking into the show during their shouting match. If only there was someone in Fiona’s life that tried to get through to her the way she was trying with Debbie.

Fiona re-blowing up her marriage was tragic. She had put in so much effort to repair the damage she had caused with her first infidelity and once again, she was not only on the precipice of doing it again, she wanted to end the marriage entirely. Fiona this season has turned into a bumbling, chaotic tornado with barely any sense of how others perceive her. In Love Songs (In the Key of Gallagher), Fiona was reality-checked (rather smacked) multiple times e.g. she comes home and asks why is there no food in the house. No one in the Gallagher household, besides her, has a job. How could anyone else but her buy food? For days, this obvious fact has eluded her. Instead of being the shepherd to many, Fiona now lives inside her own world.

I don’t think any viewer of Shameless saw the breakup coming. The viewer saw Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan)’s point-of-view on the situation though (through the filter of his mother) i.e. he wants to be accepted for who and what he is off the bipolar medication. He doesn’t want to change to meet someone else’s standard. That is a valid sentiment except he could have killed a baby and nearly killed his sister with a baseball bat. That is who and what Ian is off of his medication. Of course no one wants to accept that version of him (besides equally unhinged Monica). Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher) wanted what was best for Ian and that standpoint broke their unbreakable bond. It will be interesting to see how the Gallaghers “handle” the un-medicated Ian in Season 6.

Bianca (Bojana Novakovic)’s final days with Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) were beautiful scenes. Frank seems drawn to dying women. This is the second time he been in a relationship with someone who was terminal, though this time he didn’t actually cause the person to die. On the contrary, he was sad that he lost a companion. One has to wonder why Frank didn’t stay in his beach front hut. He had all of Bianca’s cash and credit cards. Once those ran out, he could have gotten a job to pay for the hut and electricity but oh right, Frank doesn’t work (side query: what happened to Frank’s disability checks he previously received for his injured back every month? Why not use those to pay for his new beach front ‘villa’?). He would rather come all the back to the bone-chilling streets of Chicago and not work then stay in a completely warmer climate (with far cheaper and readily available drugs) and not work. Makes sense (like Lip going to Chicago University instead of M.I.T.).

Amanda (Nichole Bloom) trying to reconnect with Lip Gallagher (Jeremy Allen White) was doomed from the out-set. Lip was “hot for teacher” and had been pulling away from his former relationship with Amanda for weeks if not months. Amanda’s continuing overtures to Lip were valiant but they fell on def ears. The guy that liked her and that was into her was already gone. The viewer could see that when Lip decided to eat a slice of cold pizza with his back to her (it was like she was invisible to him and not even present in the room).

The Sammi (Emily Bergl) / Mickey ending to Love Songs (In the Key of Gallagher) was a gigantic, narrative misstep for the episode. It ripped the viewer out of all the seriousness of the events that had previously transpired. The writers (John Wells and Paul Abbott) wanted to end the episode and the season on a comedic, lighter note but they failed to see that such a move would be detrimental. Sammi shot point-blank at Mickey during moments of their altercation and didn’t hit him (yet was able to precisely hit Frank in the shoulder episodes back). Come on. In addition, the only person concerned during the gun-play was Sammi and Mickey. No one else was concerned, frightened, or terrified. Not any of the bystanders, including Ian, or for that matter, this episode’s writers. The bystanders’ reaction to Mickey being shot at and chased turned the altercation into a cartoon. If no one in the scene (besides Sammi and Mickey) was concerned or was taking it seriously, why should the viewer? The viewer realizes that the on-screen characters have a low empathy threshold because of the lives they have lived and the things that they have seen but this was something else entirely. Shameless has always walked a fine line between drama and comedy, but this time, in this last, critical scene, Shameless fell right on its face.

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

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