Shameless (U.S. TV series)

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This article is about The American television show. For The British television show, see Shameless (UK TV series). For other uses, see Shameless (disambiguation).
Shameless title.png
Genre Dramedy
Black comedy
Created by Paul Abbott
Based on Shameless
by Paul Abbott
Developed by John Wells
Opening theme "The Luck You Got" by The High Strung
Composer(s) iZLER
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 84 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) John Wells
Mark Mylod (seasons 1-4)
Paul Abbott (pilot)
Andrew Stearn
Etan Frankel
Krista Vernoff
Davey Holmes
Nancy M. Pimental
Christopher Chulack
Producer(s) Michael Hissrich
(seasons 1-3)
Terri Murphy
Location(s) Chicago, Illinois
Los Angeles, California
Cinematography Rodney Charters
Kevin McKnight
Running time 45–59 minutes
Production company(s) John Wells Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Showtime Networks
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network Showtime
Picture format HDTV 1080i
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original release January 9, 2011 (2011-01-09) – Present
Related shows Shameless (UK)
External links

Shameless is an American comedy-drama television series which airs on Showtime. This remake of the British series is set in Chicago, although filmed in Los Angeles, with the exterior scenes shot in Chicago.[1]


The series depicts the dysfunctional family of Frank Gallagher, a single father of six children. While he spends his days drunk or in search of misadventures, his kids learn to take care of themselves.

The show's producers sought to distinguish it from previous American working-class shows by highlighting how Frank's alcoholism affects his family.[2] Paul Abbott, the show's creator, has said, "It's not My Name Is Earl or Roseanne. It's got a much graver level of poverty attached to it. It's not blue collar; it's no collar."[2] When John Wells, the showrunner, began pitching the show, he had to fight efforts to place the show in the South or in a trailer park. He explained, "We have a comedic tradition of making fun of the people in those worlds. The reality is that these people aren't 'the other' – they're people who live four blocks down from you and two blocks over".[2]


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 12 January 9, 2011 (2011-01-09) March 27, 2011 (2011-03-27)
2 12 January 8, 2012 (2012-01-08) April 1, 2012 (2012-04-01)
3 12 January 13, 2013 (2013-01-13) April 7, 2013 (2013-04-07)
4 12 January 12, 2014 (2014-01-12) April 6, 2014 (2014-04-06)
5 12 January 11, 2015 (2015-01-11) April 5, 2015 (2015-04-05)
6 12 January 10, 2016 (2016-01-10) April 3, 2016 (2016-04-03)
7 12 October 2, 2016 (2016-10-02) December 18, 2016 (2016-12-18)


HBO began developing an American version of Shameless after striking a deal with John Wells in January 2009.[3] By October 2009 the development had moved to Showtime. John Wells Productions taped a pilot episode for the cable network in December 2009.[4] William H. Macy stars in the lead role as Frank Gallagher.[5] Also joining the cast were former Dragonball Evolution co-stars Emmy Rossum as Fiona and Justin Chatwin as Steve.[6][7] Paul Abbott, whose semi-autobiographical telescript became the pilot episode for the original UK version, is credited as an executive producer on the U.S. version.[2]

In April 2010, Showtime green-lit the series with a 12-episode order.[8] In late August Joan Cusack was cast as Sheila, a romantic interest for Frank, replacing Allison Janney, who portrayed the role in the pilot.[9] Production began in mid-September.[9]

A preview of the pilot aired on December 12, 2010, after the Season 5 finale of Dexter. The first season officially began airing on Showtime on Sunday, January 9, 2011.[10] It is filmed in the North Lawndale[11] community area of Chicago[12] and Burbank, California, at Warner Bros. Studios. Before the cold open, a main character breaks the fourth wall and berates the viewer who missed previous episodes by identifying plot points relevant to the current episode.


Initial shooting of the second season began on July 5, 2011[13] and premiered January 8, 2012.[14] The series was renewed for a third season renewal on February 1, 2012,[15] and initial shooting began June 27, 2012.[16] The third season premiered on January 13, 2013, and two weeks later on January 29, Shameless was renewed for a fourth season,[17] which premiered January 12, 2014. On February 18, 2014, the series was renewed for a fifth season.[18] Production on the first episode began on July 3, 2014 with the first episode table read,[19] with initial shooting for the season beginning on July 8, 2014.[20][21] The series was renewed for a sixth season on January 12, 2015.[22] Shameless was renewed for a 12-episode seventh season on January 12, 2016.[23] Season 7 premiered on October 2, 2016. The series was initially set in Chicago's Canaryville neighborhood on the South Side,[24][25][26] but as of season 6 the Back of the Yards neighborhood was stated to be the location of the Gallagher household.[27]

In December 2016, it was reported that Emmy Rossum had requested that she be paid more than William H. Macy for future seasons, to make up for previous seasons in which she was paid less than Macy. The pay dispute briefly delayed work on an eighth season of the series while she and Warner Bros. Television negotiated.[28] The dispute came to an end on December 14, when Rossum confirmed through Twitter that she would continue to work on the series, with production of an eighth season to begin in May 2017.[29] On December 19, 2016, Showtime officially announced that Shameless had been renewed for an eighth season.[30]


The theme song for Shameless is "The Luck You Got" by indie rock group The High Strung. The majority of the music featured throughout the series is generally from indie rock bands. The pilot episode made use of music from artists such as Cream, Spoon, Say Hi, 3OH!3 featuring Ke$ha, The Vines, The Moog and LMFAO.[31] The show has also featured music from Let's Wrestle, Eels, The Blue Van, Cake, Jimmy Eat World, Alien Crime Syndicate, and Freeplay Music. Music from The High Strung, Soho3, Say Hi and The High Planes Drifters can be heard multiple times throughout the show. A few songs being "We Are The Men You'll Grown To Love Soon", "Silly Boy" and Beginners Luck. Capital Cities has been heard on the show with their song "Who's That Dude Pt. 1", as well as Johnny Foreigner with "Absolute Balance" and Bosshouse Music with "Chicago Blues". The songs "Vireo's Eye" (episode 3) and "Inch of Dust" (episode 7) by Synthpop band Future Islands were also used in the first season. The last episode of season one featured two songs by The Diner with the first being "Indie Dreams" and with "Sun and Soil" being the second. In promotion for the second season premiere the entire cast of shameless sang their own version of a Christmas Carol "except this one dings grandma's holiday turkey and suggests the best route home in case you partake in too much holiday cheer" entitled Shameless: Christmas Carol.[32][33][34] It can also be found on the special features of the season 2 DVD featurette.[35] The singer Marina and the Diamonds has also been referenced on the show, in a text by Debbie Gallagher.

Main characters[edit]

  • William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher, the father of six children. He is a deadbeat alcoholic and drug addict who relies on schemes and stealing to survive. He is the biological father of Fiona, Lip, Debbie, Liam, Carl, and Sammi— but not Ian. He pays little attention to his children but can display care and concern for them in drastic circumstances. He often pontificates about political and social issues, yet spends most of his time developing schemes to cheat the system and take advantage of others in order to get money.
  • Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher, the eldest daughter of the Gallagher clan. She is attractive, intelligent, and resilient. All of the responsibility of keeping her siblings safe becomes hers, and hence she dropped out of high school in her junior year. Though often exhausted by her obligations, she takes care of the family to the best of her ability. Prone to selflessness, and striving for everyone in her family to reach success, Fiona sometimes needs to be reminded to look out for her own happiness and well-being.
  • Justin Chatwin as Jimmy Lishman, also known as Steve Wilton and Jack, a young man who relentlessly pursues Fiona, going to great lengths to win her over, beginning with chasing the man who grabbed her purse in a nightclub on the night they met. He owns expensive things and throws money around liberally, which Fiona finds disconcerting until she discovers that he really steals cars for a living. It is later discovered that his real name is Jimmy and he comes from a wealthy family.
  • Jeremy Allen White as Philip "Lip" Gallagher, the second Gallagher child. He was a straight-A student throughout high school and uses his intelligence in various money-making schemes. Despite his above-average intelligence, he's fairly self-destructive; he smokes cigarettes and marijuana, drinks alcohol, pursues casual sexual encounters with many girls, and even steals vehicles. Lip has had a few love affairs through the series, including Karen Jackson and later Mandy Milkovich who applied to several colleges for Lip without his knowledge, winning him a full scholarship at one or more. After Lip found out that Mandy hit Karen with her car, causing Karen to become emotionally and mentally challenged, Lip dumped her.
  • Cameron Monaghan as Ian Gallagher, the third of the Gallagher siblings. He is Monica's but not Frank's biological child. He participates in Army JROTC at school, and is gay, the latter fact he withholds from some of the family. Still under age, he enlists in the Army under his brother Lip's identity. At the end of season 4, Ian is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a mental illness his mother Monica has been diagnosed with. He has had a few affairs through the series, the most intense and long-lasting with Mickey Milkovich, the violent and supposedly homophobic neighbor.
  • Emma Kenney as Debbie Gallagher, the fourth Gallagher child. "Debs" is precocious, intent on making a positive impression, willing to cover for others. She is very mature in some ways and therefore has trouble making friends with people her own age. Debbie is also physically unimpressive and self-conscious. In her teen years, Debbie becomes more rebellious, disrespectful, and secretive, eager to finally have a boyfriend and lose her virginity. In season 6 she becomes a teen mom, naming her daughter after Frank.
  • Ethan Cutkosky as Carl Gallagher, the second-youngest Gallagher child who shares a room with older brothers Lip and Ian, who try to keep their more-adult interests from him. Carl is often in trouble at school for attacking other students and not obeying the rules. He displays several psychopathic tendencies such as mutilating his toys and killing stray animals. His bond with Frank is strengthened after Frank convinces him he has cancer (for one of his schemes — later Carl was "cured"), and Carl helps him stay in the van parked in the Gallagher backyard after being kicked out.
  • Brennan Kane Johnson and Blake Alexander Johnson, then later Brenden Sims and Brandon Sims, as Liam Gallagher, the youngest of the Gallagher children. He is black, despite having two white parents, due to a dominant black gene the Gallaghers acquired from Frank's grandmother. He is delayed in verbal and emotional growth, and the whole family dotes on him. In season 4, Liam unwittingly ingests cocaine and is hospitalized, possibly suffering brain damage.
  • Shanola Hampton as Veronica Fisher, the Gallaghers' neighbor and Fiona's best friend and confidante; she is in a relationship with Kevin Ball. Always willing and able to lend a hand, Veronica pursued a medical career until she was fired from the hospital for stealing medical supplies. She currently works as a caregiver at a nursing home and freelances on her webcam. In Season 2, Veronica discovers it will be unlikely for her to bear children due to pelvic inflammatory disease. Her mother, Carol, becomes pregnant by Kev - consented to and arranged by Veronica - to act as a surrogate. Then, Veronica soon discovers she is pregnant with triplets herself - however, one fetus was resorbed in utero. When her mother gave birth to a baby boy and realized she was emotionally attached to the baby, she decides to keep him for herself. Veronica later delivers two baby girls.
  • Steve Howey as Kevin Ball. Kevin is the bartender and owner of the Alibi Room and the Gallaghers' neighbor and friend. He lives with and is in a happy relationship with Veronica, though he is technically married to another woman who previously left him. He is dyslexic and grew up in foster care, living with several families. To keep his bar from going bankrupt, Kev allows Mickey to run a prostitution ring and a breast milk dispensary.
  • Joan Cusack as Sheila Jackson. Shelia is an agoraphobic germophobe, Karen's mother, and Eddie's widow. Sheila developed her conditions when Karen was young and has tried for years to overcome her afflictions. Sheila is a kind and caring person, if a tad clueless. She euthanized Frank's mother by smothering her with a pillow.
  • Isidora Goreshter as Svetlana Fisher, whom Mickey Milkovich is forced to marry after she becomes pregnant with their son Yevgeny. A former prostitute, she later works at the Alibi Room and helps Veronica and Kevin take care of their twins. She marries Veronica to keep her residency in the United States.


Shameless premiered on January 9, 2011 in the United States, becoming Showtime's highest-rated series debut on record across the network's target demographic. The first episode of the series generated 982,000 unique viewers, and was Showtime's largest audience for a series premiere since Dead Like Me in 2003.

The fourth episode airing January 30, "Casey Casden", posted 1.45 million total viewers, making Shameless the cable channel's best-performing first-year drama. Defying the usual downward trend following a premiere, the series built on its initial audience, becoming number one in its time slot among adults aged 18 through 49. Subsequent episodes' audiences fluctuated between a million and 1.14 million viewers. The March 27, 2011 season finale, "Father Frank, Full Of Grace," drew an audience of 1.157 million.

The third season's premiere episode, "El Gran Cañon" (airing January 13, 2013), drew 2 million viewers, becoming the show's highest rated episode to date. It has since maintained average ratings of just below 2 million viewers throughout the remainder of its episodes.


Critical reception[edit]

Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter said that "Shameless is excellent, compelling television from the first moment. As long as it stays true to the roots of the original, it's going to be essential viewing". The show's first season score on Metacritic is a 66 of 100, which is a generally favorable review. The second season score on Metacritic is a 76 of 100, indicating increasingly favorable reviews.[36] Tom O'Neill of the Los Angeles Times reported on the Emmy buzz about Shameless, especially with respect to the performance of Emmy Rossum, stating "she didn't have much Emmy buzz after Shameless debuted in January, but that changed after she gave powerhouse turns in such episodes as 'But at Last Came a Knock'".[37] BuddyTV ranked Shameless #8 on its list of 2011's best new TV shows.[38] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the first season a 'fresh' rating of 74% based on 31 reviews, with the critical consensus "Shameless is a dark, urban dramedy that overcomes its leaps of logic thanks to fantastic casting, intriguing ambiance, and shock value." Seasons 2-5 each have a 100% rating as of January 27, 2015.[39]


The first episode of the series, "Pilot", was watched by 982,000 viewers, making it the network's biggest turnout for a series premiere since Dead Like Me in 2003.[40] The episode airing January 30, "Casey Casden", received 1.45 million total viewers, making Shameless the best performing first-year drama on Showtime.[41]

Season Episodes Time slot (ET/PT) Network Premiered Ended Viewers
(in millions)
Date Viewers
(in millions)
Date Viewers
(in millions)
Season 1 12
Sunday 10:00 PM
January 9, 2011
March 27, 2011
1.16[43] 1.03
Season 2 12
Sunday 9:00 PM
January 8, 2012
April 1, 2012
1.45[45] 1.36[46]
Season 3 12
January 13, 2013
April 7, 2013
1.82[48] 1.65[49]
Season 4 12
January 12, 2014
April 6, 2014
1.93[51] 1.71[52]
Season 5 12
January 11, 2015
April 5, 2015
1.55[54] 1.58[55]
Season 6 12
January 10, 2016
April 3, 2016
1.63[57] 1.56[58]
Season 7 12
October 2, 2016
December 18, 2016
1.72[60] 1.42

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2011 Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in Casting
Television Pilot — Drama
John Frank Levey Nominated [61]
2011 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series William H. Macy Nominated [62]
2011 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Joan Cusack Nominated [63]
2011 Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama William H. Macy Nominated [64]
2012 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Drama Series Emmy Rossum Nominated [65]
Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series Chloe Webb Nominated
2012 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series Showtime Nominated [66]
2012 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Joan Cusack Nominated [67]
2012 Prism Awards Comedy Series — Substance Use Prism Award Shameless Won [68]
Best Performance in a Comedy Series William H. Macy Won
Best Performance in a Comedy Series Emmy Rossum Nominated [69]
2013 BMI Film & TV Awards BMI Cable Television Music Award Fil Eisler (as iZler) Won [70]
2013 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Joan Cusack Nominated [71]
2013 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a TV Series
Recurring Young Actor
Nicky Korba Nominated [72]
2014 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series Showtime Nominated [73]
2014 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a TV Series
Guest Starring Young Actor 14-16
C.J. Berdahl Nominated [74]
2014 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy Rossum Nominated [75]
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Jeremy Allen White Nominated
2014 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series William H. Macy Nominated [76]
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Joan Cusack Nominated
Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a
Comedy Series or Variety Program
Julie Michaels Nominated
2015 Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy William H. Macy Nominated [77]
Best Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Emmy Rossum Nominated
2015 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy William H. Macy Nominated [78]
2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series William H. Macy Won [79]
2015 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Cameron Monaghan Nominated [80]
2015 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series William H. Macy Nominated [81]
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Joan Cusack Won
2015 Glaad Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series Shameless Nominated [82]
2016 People's Choice Awards Favorite Premium Cable TV Actress Emmy Rossum Nominated
2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or a Variety Program Eddie Perez Won
2016 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series William H. Macy Nominated
2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series William H. Macy Won [83]

DVD releases[edit]

DVD release dates for Shameless
Name Release dates Ep # Additional information
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season December 27, 2011[84] June 25, 2012 (2012-06-25)[85] April 4, 2012[86] 12
  • Bringing Shameless to America — A look at the process of reworking and repurposing a successful UK television series for an American premium cable audience.
  • Bringing the Fun to Dysfunctional — Go behind-the-scenes of the show with key members of the cast and crew in this much-too-brief making-the-series featurette.
  • A Shameless Discussion About Sex — Rossum and co-stars Steve Howey, Justin Chatwin and Shanola Hampton have a candid chat about the sex in Shameless.
  • Audio Commentaries — Two commentaries are available:
    • "Pilot," & "Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father,"
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Season 2 Sneak Peek — A look into season 2 of Shameless
The Complete Second Season December 18, 2012[87] N/A February 13, 2013[88] 12
  • The Complicated Life of Fiona Gallagher - (featurette) Fiona returns with a whole new host of problems, and Rossum talks about her character and the future of the Gallagher clan.
  • The Art of Acting Drunk - (featurette) William H. Macy takes a hard look at Frank and his future.
  • Behind the Scenes: Writing the Shameless Version - (featurette) A second-season roundtable chat.
  • A Shameless Actor Discussion - 5 Interviews between various cast members.
  • A Shameless Look at Season 3 - A behind the scenes sneak peek of the third season of Shameless
  • The Shameless Christmas Carol — Music Video
  • Deleted Scenes
The Complete Third Season December 17, 2013[89] N/A December 18, 2013[90] 12
  • Where the Streets Have No Shame - (featurette) Go behind the scenes with the Shameless cast and crew as they prep a number of sets and streets for the third season shoot.
  • The Many Sides of Sheila - (featurette) Joan Cusack's character Sheila steps center stage as the actress, writer Mike O'Malley and other key members of the team discuss her development and evolution.
  • An Officer and a Gallagher - (featurette) The same treatment is given to Cameron Monaghan's Ian.
  • A Lip Off the Old Block - (featurette) Followed by Jeremy Allen White's Phillip.
  • Being Milkovich - (featurette) More character dissections with Noel Fisher and Emma Greenwell.
  • A Messy Triangle - (featurette) Lip, Karen and Mandy's... relationship.
  • Deleted Scenes
The Complete Fourth Season December 30, 2014 (2014-12-30)[91] TBA December 17, 2014 (2014-12-17)[92] 12
  • Being Gallagher - (featurette)
  • Shameless Neighbors - (featurette)
  • Deleted Scenes
The Complete Fifth Season December 29, 2015 (2015-12-29)[93] TBA January 13, 2016 (2016-01-13)[94] 12
  • Shameless (sex) love - (featurette)
  • Gentrify This!!! - (featurette)
  • Audio commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
The Complete Sixth Season August 30, 2016 (2016-08-30)[95] TBA TBA 12
  • Running The Table: A Shameless Conversation - (featurette)
  • Shamelessly Shanola - (featurette)
  • Deleted Scenes


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