I haven’t written that much about the eighth season of Shameless because, honestly, there hasn’t been that much to write about. The meth plotline from the trailer was dealt with in the first few episodes, and the rest of the season has mostly been about all the Gallaghers slowly, but mostly, improving themselves. Fiona’s improved her building to “not slumlord” status, Lip is sober, Carl’s keeping army-ready, and Debbie is annoying me slightly less than she has in other seasons. (Just slightly though. There’s a lot of shit she’s doing that still pisses me off, but at least she’s not being such a bitch about it.) Even Frank got a job, and stayed out of jail, the hospital, and most of the significant plots. (Sorry, Frank. They should have killed you when they had the chance.) But like I said, mostly amusing, if unremarkable, stuff.
I thought that had changed with the Fiona vs. Ian face off that started a couple of weeks back and came to a head in last night’s episode. Ian had his heart set on turning an abandoned church into a youth shelter while Fiona wanted the building, conveniently located a mere block from her growing realty empire, leased to a pair of artist brothers to be turned into a gallery/art-space (shop? workshop? A place to make and display art. I am not a hipster). Ian might have had the moral high ground (even with the brothers’ promise to run art programs for low income kids, giving a house to homeless teenagers is probably a larger net gain), but lost whatever superiority he had when he just lost his fucking mind about this. Like, passionately fighting for a cause he believes is is admirable. Pouring buckets of ice water onto your sleeping sister for days in a row because you feel she’s robbed you of your plans is pretty fucked up, dude.
So I started a mental list of all the reasons Ian was wrong about this. Nobody owed Ian that building. Fiona had no idea Ian was the guy trying to get the building for the shelter. An open art gallery with youth programs in place isn’t exactly the devil’s work. And there’s the whole list of reasons why Ian was being a hypocritical asshole about this. I mean, did he really accuse Fiona of selling out in an attempt to get rich? Is he forgetting that the whole reason he took on this crusade was to get back into the good graces of his ex-boyfriend? Or the fact that at the beginning of this season, he was fine with pushing his underaged brother to sell a full pound of meth for him? Jesus, what about the fact that while Ian is vandalizing Fiona’s property in the name of what is morally right, he’s turning a blind eye (if not flatly condoning) Carl kidnapping and holding hostage a group of drug addicts in the Gallagher basement? Did none of that raise your moral hackles?
And there’s the extent to which Ian went way overboard on his retribution. The idea to have the homeless camp move into a residential neighborhood isn’t actually that bad of a move. Society marginalizes and ignores the homeless. Forcing society to deal with the consequences of our lack of a safety net seems pretty justifiable. And if Ian and the camp had moved in peacefully, I might have actually been on his side. But then “cuntlord” came out. So that was basically the end of the “conscientious” protest. In addition to the non-consensual ice bucket challenge and the spray paint, Ian threw eggs at Fiona’s building, instructed the youth camp to dig the latrine as close as possible to the property line, used a bullhorn to lead the “Fuck Fiona” chant, called the city to report non-existent fire code violations on his sister, and basically acted like a crazy person. It’s almost like- oh, shit, he’s a crazy person. Right, because Ian has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but has been actively engaged in his treatment and has been handling it really well for the most part. Enough so that his initial behavior didn’t raise any eyebrows, and it wasn’t until it was abundantly clear he was having a manic period that everything else made sense. The same way we didn’t realize Youens was drunk at his trial until he clearly was. Or, in a more lighthearted move, the way Kev was going to be able to fulfill Veronica’s domination fantasies by yelling at her about housework. I consider myself to be pretty good at predicting plots, and this show has more “how did I not see that coming” moments than any other show I watch. And I still never see that coming.
Goddamn, Shameless, you’re so good.