How “Shameless” Kicks Stereotypes To the Curb

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The TV show Shameless is my biggest guilty pleasure of this year. To watch a show about the most dysfunctional family of all time is so pleasurable yet so damn frustrating. Anything bad that could happen in the world probably has already happened to this family, which is exactly why it is so frustrating to watch! The parents are never around because one is a drug addict and the other is an alcoholic so the older sister is in charge of all the children (there’s like 6 of them). If you want to know how not to live your life, you should probably sit down and watch this show because they do just about everything wrong. There was one point in this show were the 10 year old brother was in juvie and the 22 year old older sister was in jail at the same time, talk about a rough life. While two siblings are in jail, the other 13 year old sister is pregnant and her “baby daddy” fled to Florida. If that doesn’t make you frustrated to watch i’m not sure anything will. I hate basically every character on this show at some point throughout the series because of how awful they all are to each other yet, I can’t stop watching it.

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Aside of all the bullshit of this show, there is actually quite a lot of lessons throughout it all. One of the main characters, Ian, is a homosexual. This particular character in the show breaks a lot of stereotypes for “typical” gay characters. For starters, Ian quits high school, takes his brother’s ID and joins the army. Later to just be thrown out because the Army finds out that he’s not actually 18. I wouldn’t say that joining the army is a stereotypical thing for homosexual men to do, but in this show they make it so completely normal. Another thing that Shameless introduces is a transgender character. Ian starts dating a transgender boy which usually is not something you would not see on TV. On most shows I would say that they always make a huge deal about transgender or homosexual characters but on this show it is so normal. Never have I watched a show where a homosexual character and a transgender character have been in a relationship. Throughout the entire show thus far, things like this happen all the time. I believe that Shameless is so likable because they take every stereotype and completely alter them.

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Another example of this would be the fact that the youngest brother is black, even though the rest of the family is white. In one of the episodes they even prove that Liam came from both the mother and the father, who are both white. Obviously some of this show is stupid and so completely untrue, but it definitely makes you want to watch more so you can learn why things are the way they are with this family. How a black boy can come from two white people is beyond me, but it Shameless they make it so normal and don’t even think twice about it. In one episode they made a comment about it but other than that the writers completely ignore the situation. I think that this is an awesome move on their part because this normalizes the entire situation. As someone who watches the show, at first I was completely thrown back and confused, but as Shameless goes on the situation became so normal.

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Just when you think the show might get a little more normal, it doesn’t. The oldest sister, Fiona, basically takes care of the entire family. They treat her like a mother as she treats her siblings like her children. The biggest stereotype that Shameless has normalized with Fiona is that she is the guardian because their parents are not parental figures whatsoever. At one point in the show Fiona works at a nightclub just to provide the highest income for the family. Being the guardian was obviously not something that she had planned for, but with her parents not being present it was basically her only choice. Not only does she have to act like a sibling, but she also has to play the role of a parent, which trust me is NOT easy.  I would honestly say that this is the most normalized situation in the entire show just because it makes kids who actually have their older siblings as their guardians feel much more normal. I’m not sure if this is the point of the show, but it sure as hell does kill stereotypes as they are known.  

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Along with their being a black sibling in a white family, a gay brother, and a sister parent, we also have a teenage mom in the family. Debbie, a 16 year old mother, thinks that life could just not get any better. Ever heard of a 15 year old purposely get pregnant and refuse to have an abortion? Well here’s your girl. The entire family except the messed up father wanted Debbie to get an abortion so what does she do? She has the kid and then names it after the father who hasn’t been present pretty much her entire life. Debbie sure isn’t my favorite character but I do admire the fact that she had the baby on her own and didn’t listen to what her family was saying to her. Her sister even threatened to kick her out, but she still had the baby anyway and decided that she would figure out a way to raise this baby. Talk about a strong ass woman and a admirable mother. Debbie has a child, works, has a nanny, and still finds a way to take care of her baby. Even though teenage pregnancy is such a big deal, this show also finds a way to normalize it. I am 100% sure that any teenage mom who has watched this show feels extremely better about their lives.

Not only does Shameless do a kick ass job at killing stereotypes but it teaches some serious lessons to people our age and younger. Even though I hope to God people younger than 18 are not watching this show, i’m sure if they are they have learned some valuable lessons. After watching the show up to where it is now, I definitely see some things a lot differently than I would if I hadn’t watched Shameless.

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One thought on “How “Shameless” Kicks Stereotypes To the Curb

  1. Derek Lawton- I as well wrote about Shameless. I think it is one of the best shows on television for many reasons but agree that it does a great job “kicking stereotypes to the curb.” It shows the reality that not everyone is perfect and families go through struggles. It is very unusual for characters on shows today to be homosexual or to have a black child in a white family. Shameless does a great job of showing the struggles gay people go through throughout their lives. Society has become more accepting but it is still hard for homosexuals to live in society. Also, Shameless shows us how interracial families actually exist and it should not be considered a bad thing. The show has many ups and downs and teaches many valuable life lessons. I love this show for the fact that it is so real and not falsified like so many other shows. It may exaggerate certain situations but it shows the struggles poverty stricken families go through everyday. I agree I look at a lot of things differently after watching this show and think that everyone should give Shameless a try.

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