Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.
Showtime’s Shameless begins airing its seventh season at the beginning of October, a quick turn-around for a cable series whose sixth season just ended its run in April. Accordingly, WB has released Shameless – The Complete Sixth Season this week, giving viewers time to catch up on the last twelve episodes if you haven’t gotten around to them yet. Or, if you’ve already seen them, picking up the two-disc set is a convenient way to get a refresher.
As has been the case with past runs of the soapy drama, Shameless‘s sixth year continues the plot threads from the year before. Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is sleeping with Sean (Dermot Mulroney), a relationship that isn’t good for either of them for oh so many reasons. Lip’s (Jeremy Allen White) choice of sexual partners is not any better, given that his lady is both married and his professor. Debbie (Emma Kenney) is trying to hide her pregnancy. Carl’s (Ethan Cutkosky) release from prison is followed by a rough readjustment at home, while Mickey (Noel Fisher) has just landed behind bars. And Frank (William H. Macy) is searching for God, though it seems highly unlikely that this man could ever truly turn over a new leaf, at least not for any real length of time.
All of that is only the beginning. From the neighborhood bar undergoing a shift in its patronage, to the Gallaghers fighting to keep their family home, season six, like past years, has no shortage of drama. Some of it is forced, but most of it doesn’t seem so for the clan that makes a lot of their own trouble. There is as much heart as there is comedy, and the terrific performances keep the show grounded, always stopping just short of being unbelievable. That’s why this is the best series of its type currently running, and I wonder how many years the quality can be sustained at this level. So far, it’s done well.
For me, the hardest thing to get past is the crassness, which, if anything, has only gotten worse in each subsequent season. This is not a family that shies away from cursing and dirty deeds, and they would not feel at home at a cocktail party. Yet, somehow, while that can be a turn-off in certain entertainment, it’s usually fine here. Even when one of the ensemble ventures into polite society, normally Lip, those he encounter have just enough allowance for him or have their own dark, if more cultured, secrets, to keep it all in balance. Tuning in regularly will definitely help viewers not to judge the lower class as strongly, with familiarity and empathy breeding affection and understanding.
I have to say, I am pleased to have Sammi (Emily Bergl) gone this year. As much as I like the actress, I never cared much for her character, and I don’t think her arcs really benefited the others’. The cast has undergone several changes over the years, with only the initially introduced Gallagher family members and neighbors Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) remaining untouched, and while some of them are regrettable (bring back Joan Cusack!), Sammi’s departure, along with her son’s, is a welcome one.
The extras on this set are slight, with only a batch of deleted scenes and two featurettes included. There are a lot of the former, batched with ten of the twelve episodes and spread across both discs, while the latter appear only on disc two. “Shamelessly Shanola” follows the actress around the set for a little under ten minutes, while “Running the Table: A Shameless Conversation” features Macy and Rossum informally grilling two of the show’s producers over a game of pool. Both are delightful and perfectly keeping in tone and style with the series, so I am glad they are included, even as I wish there was a bit more of the same.
Shameless – The Complete Sixth Season is available now and is definitely worth giving a look at.