Currently in the middle of airing its 9th season at the time of this writing, Shameless has managed to become the longest running Showtime original series of all-time. Able to last that long because it has introduced a long list of characters that viewers care deeply about, the series is unlike any other currently airing on television.
Shameless is supported by a slew of passionate fans that tune in for each new episode. Among that group you have people that put a great deal of thought into the series. However, there is a much larger group of passive viewers, many of whom likely harbor some misconceptions about Shameless. Additionally, even some of the more avid viewers have some mistaken ideas about the series.
In order for a piece of information to be considered for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to relate to the show Shameless in one way or another. On top of that, it needs to fly in the face of something that many fans of the show seem to believe. It should be noted, not only did we look at what has gone on behind the scenes of the show, but also onscreen aspects of the series as well. Of course, everyone’s knowledge base is different so there will be readers who are aware of some of the things included on this list.
With all that in mind, it is time to look at this list of 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Shameless.
20 Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Dermot Mulroney Played the Same Character
Introduced to the show Shameless at the end of the 4th season, Jeffrey Dean Morgan was cast as the owner of a diner named Patsy’s who decides to give Fiona a job there. Gone once the 5th season began, instead there was now a character played by Dermot Mulroney that owned Patsy’s and served as Fiona’s boss.
Considering this switch was swept under the rug, for the most part at least, it makes sense that many fans think that both actors played the same character. However, that is not the case as Morgan played a man named Charlie Peters whereas Mulroney portrayed Sean Pierce, a character that would go on to be of much greater importance.
19 It is An Original Show
Shameless took the world by storm when it began airing in 2011. Well, at least, that is when the US version of the series first became a hit-- since it actually is a remake of a British series that had incredible staying power. With the UK’s version of the series airing from 2004 until 2013, for a period of two years both shows were in production at the same time.
Sharing a lot more than just their names, the US and UK versions of Shameless both focused on the Gallagher family, although the producers took their stories in very different directions.
18 ALL THE SHOW IS FILMED ON LOCATION
One of several ways in which Shameless stands out among its peers is that, unlike so many other modern series, it really feels like every moment is shot on location. There is some truth to that feeling, since all of Shameless’ outdoor scenes are filmed on real city street-- and Patsy’s is a real business. However, many of the show’s most memorable sequences were filmed on a set, including everything that takes place inside the Gallagher home.
Evidence of just how talented the set designers for the series clearly are, the Gallagher's home feels far too real and lived in to be a set-- and yet, it is one!
17 Shameless Was Emmy Rossum’s First Brush With Fame
Oftentimes the hope is that landing a leading role in a series like Shameless can take an actor’s career from famine to feast. However, Emmy Rossum did not have to hope for such a meteoric rise as she had already attained a certain degree of not only success but fame as well.
For instance, she’d already played important roles in movies like Mystic River, The Day After Tomorrow, and Poseidon among others. On top of that, she landed the lead role of Christine Daaé in a 2004 film adaptation of the popular musical The Phantom of the Opera, where she showed off her singing chops too.
16 The Gallaghers Get Away With Their Misdeeds
If there is one thing that can be said about the Gallaghers above all else, they are a resourceful and crafty clan. However, that is far from their only notable trait, as most of them have proven time and time again that they also are bound to make mistakes that easily could mess up their lives. When those two ideas are combined, it explains why the Gallaghers more often than not get away with whatever reckless and criminal thing they’ve done lately.
Despite that, many of them have paid a serious price for their misdeeds, including Frank’s health problems, Lip’s addiction issues, and Fiona, Ian, and Carl’s incarcerations.
15 There's No Connection to the UK version
As we’ve touched on earlier in this list, Shameless is based on a long-running and successful series of the same name that aired years before in England. Even among the few people that already knew that, most probably think that nobody involved with the production of the UK show has ever been attached to the US version. However, that isn’t the case at all, as Paul Abbott, the man whose life the UK show was very loosely based on was credited on 29 episodes of America’s Shameless.
Listed among the Executive Producers during the first two and a half seasons of America’s Shameless, Abbott's fingerprints have been left on both series.
14 The Cast Just Acts
Many viewers may not realize it, but when an actor is hired to star in a show there are a lot of fringe benefits that come along with that. Of course, the money, fame, and prestige can be marvelous but in some ways, the opportunities that arise may just be the best reward of the bunch. After all, many TV stars end up landing roles in other series and even more importantly than that, major movies. Additionally, some actors manage to try out all new careers.
For example, as of the time of this writing, two Shameless stars have branched out by aiding in the production of the show. In fact, Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy have directed two episodes of the series each and Macy also wrote one.
13 The Show Has Never Been a Critical Darling
Considering how firmly anti-establishment that the Gallagher family is, it only seems right that the show Shameless would be frowned on by the critical elite and award show panels. Despite that, the show has received an incredible amount of appreciation among the critics and even has a score of 9%0 on Rotten Tomatoes. On top of that, the series has received a great deal of love at awards shows, especially when it relates to William H. Macy’s performance as Frank.
In fact, the show as a whole won several times at the Primetime Emmys and SAG Awards, on top of taking home a long list of other trophies over the years.
12 The Gallaghers Are Selfish
More than willing to cut corners and break the law if it is going to help them, the Gallagher family have done many things that society looks down upon. With that in mind, it may seem like every member of this clan is selfish.
This is obviously untrue, as all of the siblings care deeply about one another. When the chips are down and one of their siblings needs them, the Gallagher will go to the extremes in order to have each other’s back. More than that, there are several examples of the Gallagher kids wreaking revenge when they felt like a sibling had been wronged.
11 The Show Has Never Featured a Healthy Relationship
Shameless is chock-full of people who have often made short-sighted decisions in every area of their lives. The Gallaghers, in particular, are known for their unfortunate love lives.
Fiona alone has been in so many unhealthy relationships that it seems like she is incapable of finding a partner. However, that in no way means that the show has never featured overall healthy relationships. For example, Kev and V clearly adore one another. Even though they have had their problems, they work them out. On top of that, Ian and Mickey are perfect for one another, even if together they have made some unfortunate decisions.
10 JOAN CUSACK STARRED IN SHAMELESS
Featured in 44 episodes of Shameless, Joan Cusack portrayed Sheila Jackson, a woman with whom Frank and the rest of the Gallaghers were involved during the first 5 seasons of the show. Given that she was a major part of the series early on, if you came to the conclusion that she was one of the show’s stars, you certainly would not be the only one. However, eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that in the opening credits she was always listed as being a special guest star.
It was a puzzling decisions. Deadline even publicly questioned whether Cusack should be listed as a guest star when it came time for Emmy consideration.
9 All of the Gallagher Kids Seem Destined For Mediocrity
If the Gallagher kids want to get ahead in life they need to work much harder than their peers. For instance, if they want to go away to school, they can’t turn to their parents for funds and likely wouldn’t be able to find a bank willing to lend them money. For that reason, you may think that all of the Gallagher kids are destined for mediocrity-- at best. While that certainly seems to be the case for some of them, there are several of the siblings that are capable of so much more.
For instance, Fiona’s real estate plans may rebound, Lip could use his brains to get ahead once again, Carl is making moves in the military, and Liam has the most potential of them all.
8 Joan Cusack Was Always Destined to Play Sheila
As we touched on earlier in this list, Joan Cusack played a very important role during the first five seasons of Shameless. Stellar enough in her role that during that time she consistently was listed as being one of the best parts of Shameless, Cusack's performance was one of the show’s highlights early on. In fact, she even managed to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2015 and was nominated for her work on the series several other times.
Amazingly enough, however, she was not the first person cast in the role. Not only did Allison Janney originally sign on to play Cusack's role, but she even portrayed Sheila in the show’s original pilot.
7 The Gallaghers Take the Easy Way Out
The Gallaghers' willingness to do things most of us never could definitely makes them stand out for many viewers. Despite that, if you thought that the unorthodox ways in which the family members do things are just a metho of cutting corners in order to do as little as possible, then you are sorely mistaken.
Instead, when any of the Gallaghers feel inspired to take on a problem they throw themselves into the situation with all of their hearts and get to work. As a result, any other Shameless character who finds themselves in battle with a Gallagher is bound to lose out, oftentimes in awfully dramatic fashion.
6 Lip Can’t Find Someone to Love Him
Over the years, Lip has had his life thrown into turmoil due to the long list of women he's dated. However, if you consider the fact that Lip has never seemed to be content in a relationship for long proof that he has never found any woman who loved him, then you are very wrong.
First off, there was his fling with his fellow student Amanda, who seemed like she wanted to stay insulated from feelings for Lip, but when things fell apart between them she was obviously devastated. Even more remarkable than that, Mandy Milkovich was so obviously in love with Lip that it was heartbreaking that they did not end up together.
5 FRANK IS TOTALLY WORTHLESS
Don’t get us wrong, Frank Gallagher has messed up over and over again. There obviously have been several Shameless characters whose lives have been ruined by having him around. All of that aside, the fact remains that he could never be considered to be totally worthless. After all, when he really sets his mind to something then he will move all obstacles in his way in order to get it done.
A recent example of this is when Frank decided to run a disgraced politician with a reprehensible past’s bid for office. He helped his client to win his election against all of the odds.
4 FIONA IS SELFLESS
Seen as the shining light of the Gallagher family during the first several seasons, Fiona raised her younger siblings due to her parent's gross negligence. For that reason, if you’ve only seen the early seasons of Shameless you may think of her as a selfless character but based on her actions over the last several years that obviously is not the case.
For example, she recently seems to have almost entirely turned her back on her siblings. Worse than that, she bought an older woman’s business and building, promised to let her live there, used money taken from her new tenant to make renovations, and then shipped her off to a home.
3 Frank is the Biological Father of All the Gallagher Kids
When you tune into an average episode of Shameless you are bound to see Frank Gallagher interacting with one of his kids. While they don’t seem close there is no reason to question their relationship. Yet, longtime fans of the series will remember that early on, Ian Gallagher celebrated after DNA tests revealed he is not the biological son of Frank, but of Frank's brother, Clayton.
Ian is the only one of the Gallagher siblings who is definitely not related to Frank on a genetic level, but some fans also question who Carl and Debbie’s biological father is as well. In fact, knowing how Ian’s test turned out, Frank’s ties to almost all of the Gallagher kids are questionable.
2 William H. Macy Was Always Destined to Play Frank
Earlier on this list, we looked at the fact that originally someone else was meant to play Joan Cusack’s character, which is pretty astonishing. Amazingly enough, however, Cusacl was not the only one that got her Shameless character second-hand as Willam H. Macy only was cast as Frank after another actor left the project.
Announced to play the character early on, Woody Harrelson is a marvelous actor, so it seems like he would have the most out playing one of Shameless’ main characters. However, Macy has become so well known for playing the US version of Frank that, even though another actor originated the role in the UK, it is hard to imagine another actor in his place.
1 Emmy Rossum Was As Valued as William H. Macy
As it's easily among the most successful shows that Showtime has ever aired, you would think that the network would value Shameless’ two series leads to the highest degree. However, after several years it became clear that the powers that be saw William H. Macy as being more important than Emmy Rossum-- at least when it came time to work out their pay packages.
No longer content with earning significantly less than Shameless’ other lead actor, Rossum fought to ensure that she was compensated as well as her TV father. Asked to comment on the situation at the height of the tensions by TMZ, Macy backed Rossum in no uncertain terms. Macy said: “she works as hard as I do” and “she deserves everything” in reference to Rossum.
What other things to people misunderstand about Shameless? Let us know in the comments!