The debut episode of Shameless airs this Sunday and introduces the tragicomic family of poors called the Gallaghers. Alcoholic, longhaired single father Frank (Anthony Van Engelen) is too busy carousing to care for his children, leaving his daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum) to raise her five siblings in Chicago. Yes, poverty, that old bleak specter. We have here, the premise goes, a show set among the masses.
Shameless depicts poverty in far more than a quantitative sense. The show plays on so many stereotypes as to be white-trash porn. People steal cars, they steal from UNICEF, from the collection plate at St. Tim’s. “That’s my fucking bike!” a little girl yells at a fleeing Gallagher. Frank smokes, drinks (a lot), and is no stranger to the local cops.