Television series don't always show the best practices for how to be a parent or do anything in real life. Shameless is a TV show about a highly dysfunctional family and is a remake of a British version of the series. William H. Macy stars as Frank Gallagher, the family patriarch and one of the major sources of the family's woes. Where the British version wowed us with James McAvoy's early work, the American version digs into issues of race, class, and family drama at its best.
But Shameless does have some endearing moments. Though almost every parent on the show does something—well—shameless, the show does a good job of showing us that its characters are complex.
In real life, most parents can agree that they do something right and things they're not so proud of. Regardless of how functional one's family is, everyone has skeletons in their closet that affect a family's dynamics. Most importantly, all families have positive attributes and memories despite their flaws.
Even characters that aren't part of the main storylines have shown fans that they can mess up or made amends in ways we can respect. Here are a few of Shameless' best and not-so-best moments.
Warning: major spoilers ahead.
Let's start with the 10 times Shameless did parenting right...
20 Frank Supported Debbie During Her Pregnancy
Debbie was shown to be clever and conniving throughout the show's story arc. She has to deal with adult responsibilities despite her age. This is a major source of stress for her. Plus, it causes some problems between her and Fiona.
She becomes pregnant in season 6, which makes Fiona and the rest of the family feel more stressed. Though the circumstances in which Debbie has her baby aren't ideal, Frank decides to show his support when her birthing plan doesn't go her way. Debbie ends up appreciating his help so much, she names the baby Franny in his honor.
19 That Time Monica Made Amends
Monica Gallagher shows us the fragility of the human condition. She tries to do her best as a mother but lacks the resources to do so. We'll get into some of her problematic behavior later though.
In season 7, she returns to her native city of Chicago to visit her family and try to set things right. Though her announcement is not a happy one, she does what she can to leave something behind for her family.
Though this is TV, Psychology Today published an article about the importance of apologizing to our children. Even though some of her decisions caused pain, at least Monica tried to make amends.
18 Veronica Gives Fiona Great Advice
Veronica is smart, beautiful, and Fiona's best friend. She's there to help Fiona find her center when things seem like they'll go wrong—and Fiona desperately needs to have someone watch out for her.
Like the Gallaghers, she also has to juggle a messy personal life while trying to get ahead in life. Still, Veronica's advice often helps Fiona be a better sister and guardian to the family.
Some of what Veronica says to Fiona becomes applicable when V becomes a mother herself. Like all other characters in Shameless, Veronica is shown to be complex, but she adds a sense of stability.
17 Peggy Tried To Be A Good Grandma
Peggy Gallagher and Frank have more than their share of problems. Still, Grammy does everything she can to be good to her grandchildren even though she doesn't have the best relationship with her son.
She supports Fiona by giving her money when the family is in need. Grammy also tries to give her grandchildren gifts whenever possible.
Grammy also answers questions about the rest of the family (even though they have to provide small incentives). Though some of her motivations are tragic, she's also formidable and tough in her own way. This shows the family how important inner strength can be.
16 Sammi Is Shown To Be Caring
Frank's eldest child, Sammi Slott is the Gallagher's half-sister. We first meet her when Frank tries to use Sammi to save his own life.
Sammi can be impulsive and she eventually ends up in a tough situation of her own making. Still, several scenes show she has a caring nature. Some people may judge her for being engaged so many times (12!). Others interpret this as a sign that she's always willing to love.
She even takes care of Frank despite his absence throughout her life. She also bonds with her siblings notwithstanding the uneasiness caused by their abrupt introduction.
15 Fiona Was A Second Mom To Her Younger Siblings
Fiona is the responsible oldest sibling in the Gallagher household, though not completely by choice. In fact, she ends up dropping out of high school and working minimum wage jobs in order to help her family along. She winds up as her siblings' legal guardian during the show's third season, which formalizes her responsibilities.
While some may disapprove of how Fiona handles things sometimes, but we must remember she's doing the best she can with what she knows (e.g. the eyebrow-raising moments that happen in season 9!)
Her role as the family's second mom puts her at odds with Frank. Still, the Gallagher home would be far more chaotic without her leadership.
14 Frank Tried To Bond With Liam
Liam is the youngest in the family, and man did he have a lot of dramatic experiences growing up. Up until season 7, we mostly see how his family's actions affect him.
However, Frank tries to bond with his son starting in season 8. Liam is African-American and Frank tries to help his son by advocating for him at school.
Frank also realizes that his actions had a negative impact on his older children and tries to be a proper father to Liam. Though this has mixed results, Liam is shown to be smarter than many children his age. Liam later uses this intelligence to help his older siblings.
13 Clayton Accepts His Nieces And Nephews As They Are
Clayton Gallagher is probably one of the most well-adjusted members of the Gallagher family. In case you may have forgotten, as it did happen back in the first two seasons, Ian and Lip visit their uncle, who now lives in a big house with his wife. Clayton is accepting of the rest of the family and even seems to gloss over the fact that he might actually be Ian Gallagher's father.
Clayton doesn't look down on his extended family for their habits or sometimes brash personalities. Where some people would normally use their circumstances in order to look down on their family, Clayton treats everyone like an equal.
This makes Clayton the only uncle in the family that Lip likes. Considering how difficult it can be to please the Gallaghers, this means Clayton really did win everyone over.
12 Monica Made Breakfast (That One Time)
Most people are used to having their parents cook for them. In Shameless, even small acts of services are a huge deal.
We become so used to the characters' messy lives that we forget they're capable of small acts of kindness.
Monica has a lot of flaws, but every episode in which she's present is a view of why her family always lets her back in. Monica shows up one day after a long absence and makes the family some breakfast.
Though she leaves the kitchen a mess, Monica leaves a nice memory for her family to chew on.
And for the 10 times they completely missed the mark...
11 Kevin Does Everything He Can To Make Ethel Comfortable
Kevin Ball is a tough bar owner, friend to Frank Gallagher, and one of his enablers. He had a tough childhood in foster care, but he uses these experiences to help Ethel, his foster daughter.
Ethel is a troubled child who was taken from a difficult situation. She struggles to get used to her new parents. Even with their faults, the Gallaghers also help Ethel get acclimated.
Kevin does everything he can to make sure she feels comfortable and safe. Her storyline is neglected as the show goes on, but Ethel shows us a more caring side of Kevin Ball and Veronica.
10 Frank's Many Vices Had An Enormous Impact On The Family
As parents go, Frank leaves a lot to be desired, as Den of Geek points out. The show explains that he went to college at one point, which is where he met Monica.
Still, Frank mostly engages in swindling activities in order to get by. His children eventually learn his scheming ways, often getting into serious trouble after using their father's methods.
His kids have so little regard for him that they call him by his first name. He even neglects one of his children up until it's time for him to get a liver transplant. This is a total parenting no-no, and Frank is an expert on these.
9 Peggy Has Major Issues With Frank
Of course, Frank Gallagher made bad decisions during the show's run. One could argue that he's also partially a product of his environment. He and his mother, Peggy, don't get along.
Peggy's story arc in the show gives us a view of the environment Frank grew up in. Some fans of the show even feel she's at least twice as unlikeable as Frank.
It's hard to compete with Frank's lack of manners, tact, and civility, but Peggy could totally beat Frank at his own games. Not that seeing her gives us more sympathy for Frank, it just gives us context.
8 Fiona Eventually Changed For The Worse
Fiona is the family's matriarch up until season 7 when she starts to change. In a Reddit thread, some fans felt her change was about evolving and hitting a breaking point.
While they bring up some valid ideas about why this is, this doesn't change the fact that Fiona mostly focuses on getting rich.
Her change in attitude is evident in how she acts when her mother passes away. To Fiona's credit, she does seek legitimate ways to build wealth but uses the same reckless Gallagher method of getting things done. She becomes increasingly indifferent toward members of her family.
7 Monica Spends The Family's Squirrel Fund
Monica came back to the Gallagher household ready to be a mom. All seemed great, and she was even able to influence Frank for the better. Fiona even got her GED during this happy period and was able to imagine a world where she was free to choose her future.
Then Monica discovered the family's squirrel fund. This was money saved and hidden from Frank out of fear he might squander it. We saw Monica and Frank make a flurry of bad decisions with this money, and their antics were later revealed. Lip and Fiona got into a heated argument when Monica's betrayal was discovered.
6 Jerry Gallagher Is Kind Of Mean To His Extended Family
Jerry Gallagher is Frank's twin brother. Of course, the Gallaghers don't exactly get along with the rest of their family members. Frank even neglected to let his children know he has a twin.
When he arrives, the Gallagher children quickly understand their uncle is not to be toyed with. They have to convince Jerry that he's their uncle, and he unleashes his temper at them.
We can understand that not knowing you have a lot of nephews who aren't aware of your existence is a shock. Jerry's reaction was completely uncalled for, and a stark contrast to Clayton's nonchalant acceptance.
5 Sammi Can Be Impulsive
Samantha Slott is revealed to be the actual eldest child of Frank Gallagher. In season 4, Sammi is introduced to the family as Frank is trying to find someone to donate a piece of their liver to him.
In season 5, Sammi is revealed to be annoying and gets on the entire family's nerves. She is shown to be selfish, and some of her actions against Frank are quite physical, even considering his actions against her.
Sadly, her son follows Frank's pattern of bad decision-making and Sammi overreacts to the consequences he reaps. She ends up in jail because of her thoughtless actions.
4 Kash Leaves Linda
Kash owns Kash and Grab, and he was Ian Gallagher's boss. He was married with children but it was revealed that he's actually gay as a result of getting together with Ian.
His wife forgives him and looks the other way at his orientation, but asks him to give her another child. Kash obliges to his wife's wishes and finds that his boyfriend, Ian Gallagher, has moved on.
After Linda becomes pregnant and he realizes he doesn't have a boyfriend, he decides to leave Linda. This also means he winds up leaving his children and left no explanation as to why.
3 Jasmine's Parenting Eventually Backfires On Her
At first, Jasmine Hollander seems like a happy-go-lucky friend. She takes Fiona to parties and is the mother of three children.
Fiona eventually sees that Jasmine has a particular set of interests concerning her. Jasmine's parenting style and carefree outlook on life eventually catch up to her.
It just goes to show there are some things that are best done the conventional way. Jasmine leaves us during the third season. Her relationship with Fiona is strained once Jasmine realizes her friend doesn't have the resources to help her.
Some things that are too much to handle, even for a Gallagher.
2 Frank Depends On His Children For Almost Everything
Shameless shows us how Frank makes one bad decision after the next. However, we rarely see him be self-sufficient (unless you count his little stint at the hardware store). Fiona takes care of the parenting, and the children are often left to their own defenses.
In season 8, Frank decides to clean up his act, much to his children's surprise. Still, he ends up making the same mistakes and he eventually goes back to depending on them.
Frank even depends on his school-age children to take him to PTA meetings where he can take advantage of fellow parents. Even when he seems to be parenting, he's still using his kids as a crutch.
1 Monica Is Gone For Long Stretches Of Time
Monica Gallagher makes us fall in love with her whenever things are going well for her. We're able to see her shine and just be normal.
That's why it hurts so much whenever she leaves home. Her time away from the family means they leave more unstructured lives, and leaves Fiona alone to care for her siblings before she's ready.
Sure, Frank's presence doesn't help the children much and not everything is her fault. However, the long-term effects of abandonment on children are well-documented.
Consistent neglect is part of the reason why the Gallaghers have a hard time forming conventional relationships, among other things.