“The F Word” continues the pregnancy face-off between Debbie and Fiona. It’s an unsatisfying episode, marked most pointedly by Fiona’s teary monologues about double-abortions and morning sickness. The middle is lazily stuffed with Frank’s absurd forays at the welfare office, as well as Kevin’s care of the paralyzed Yanis. Those two storylines aren’t worth much, with the exception of knowing that Frank is the only person to really, fully support Debbie’s pregnancy … because he wants the money. Kevin and Yanis are a cute diversion.
However, “The F Word” does build toward a very big twist: The Gallaghers find an eviction notice on their door. In an episode that finds everyone sick of everyone else, it seems the South Side is sick of this twisted family, too.
Fiona and Debbie
Because she is the family’s lynchpin, I can appreciate Fiona’s attempts to reason with Debbie. She first tries compassion and then moves to hard love, which she resents having to wield. But I can also appreciate poor Debbie’s fervent desire to create a world of her own, however irrational that desire may be. Let’s be real, though: She left her flour baby on the train last episode.
Debbie’s dilemma is slightly intolerable because her descent into young adulthood was steep and quick, especially when compared to her previous role as sweet, street-smart little sister. That said, Debbie’s errors aren’t far-fetched. She has an unrequited craving for parental love: If she can be a good mother, she likely believes she can caulk the now-barren hole that Monica and Frank chiseled away over the years.
The absence that Fiona feels has never been about a lack of company or connection. She finds company anywhere she goes, so much so that she is constantly surrounded with children and lovers seeking her approval and attention. Because her life has been so filled with other people’s needs and wants, Fiona’s emptiness originates from not knowing what she needs or wants. Her hole was carved out by survival instincts. Now faced with the possibility that Debbie, Ian, Lip, and Carl might not need her, she faces the burden of her very own pregnancy, which she rails against. She does not want to be obliged to raise another child.
Fiona and Sean
Though I’m still unsure about Sean’s stability and Fiona’s choice to be with him, I was comforted by their conversation. These two flawed people can acknowledge one another’s issues, accept them, and move forward. I can imagine them as a well-matched pair, building a life together upon each other’s vulnerabilities and strengths. On the other hand, I suspect Sean is a time bomb chosen out of Fiona’s need for chaotic dependents. If this is true, it’s easy to see why she favored Sean and ghosted Gus, from whose super-catchy song the episode title is derived. Fiona never learned how to leave. She was just taught to leave, no matter the fallout.
Lip and Ian
This episode, the mercurial professor Helene is absent. (Insert sigh of relief.) In her place, Ian pops up at Lip’s dorm looking for a place to crash. He’s about to begin his janitor job at Chicago Polytechnic. What could possibly go wrong here? Well, Ian feels slighted in a dozen ways, which results in a boozy fistfight with Lip. As I’ve written before, I’m worried for Ian, but hope springs from this episode’s final scene. While walking along the river, he witnesses a fiery car crash, rescues the passengers, and in turn, is rescued by a sexy fireman. His hero isn’t Mickey, but the scene infers delightful opportunities for our aimless Ian.
Yet again, Carl provides the dark-horse humor amid family strife and looming heroin relapses. After forging a name as the local gun runner, Carl finds himself in a position of power, doing arms deals with the principal and the AP calculus teacher, which he uses to his subtle advantage to win over Dominique. Dom’s father is a cop and she’s clearly got some gumption, but she’s intrigued by his advances. I want so much for her to be a good influence on him. Will she be trapped in the Gallagher family orbit? Stay above the fray, girl. Stay above that messy fray.
- The cafeteria scene wherein a dozen teachers draw guns over a dropped tray is an apt parody of the current climate about gun policy. God help us if real-life Carls are doling out weapons in middle America’s high school bathrooms.
- “Fuckin’ Fiona was fuckin’ everyone. Fuck you, Fiona. Now I’m fuckin’ done.” It’s stuck in my head, and you can watch “The F Word” here.
- The set design in Shameless doesn’t get enough love. It’s creepy: The Gallagher house reminds me of so many old, worn-out heaps from my childhood across Ohio. I re-watched the scene of Fiona puking on the bathroom floor several times, just to gander at the scratches on the walls, the beige Softsoap, the can of bubbles, the mismatched towels, and dirty rugs. It’s all so real it hurts.
- Emmy Rossum is a really good crier.