Shameless “I Only Miss Her When I’m Breathing” (Season 6 Episode 1)

Full disclosure, I have a love/hate relationship with Shameless. I love the Gallaghers (including the “extended” family, Kevin, V, Mickey, etc.), but some of their choices/actions keep me on edge and cause SO much stress!

Previously on Shameless . . .

– Debbie lied to her boyfriend about being on birth control, had unprotected sex and got pregnant.

– Fiona got married to a really sweet musician, but unsurprisingly sabotaged the relationship when she fell for her boss.

– Carl started selling drugs, which landed him and his nephew in juvenile detention.

– Ian faced the challenges of his bipolar diagnosis with Mickey standing by his side during some of the most difficult times. The two melted my heart, became one of my favorite tv couples and then broke up in the finale. Unfortunately, Mickey ended up in jail for the attempted murder of Sammi – one of the few Shameless characters I absolutely loathe.

– Lip found his stride in college, but entered into a very questionable/non-traditional relationship with a professor in an open marriage.

– Frank fell for a woman with terminal cancer and showed more love and affection for her than we’ve seen him show towards his family over five seasons.

New Season, Same Gallaghers!
The Shameless Season 6 premiere, “I Only Miss Her When I’m Breathing,” opened with more of the same anxiety-inducing, questionable behavior by several members of the Gallagher family. The top contenders for questionable behavior and/or decisions this week were Frank, Debbie and to a lesser extent (taken into context of everything else that happened), Carl and Lip.

Frank Is Going To Frank
Frank is in deep mourning for the doctor he met last season who was suffering from terminal cancer. The subplot between the two was so random, yet so Frank that I did not bother to learn her name because I knew that she was just another random stop on Frank’s journey to a destination still yet to be determined. Frank was exploring his grief in, ahem, interesting and disturbing ways, as he had taken to sleeping at her grave and still attempting to be intimate with her. I really don’t know what more to say about it. The best part of Frank’s storyline was the montage of him looking for answers through various religions. Although it was a nice moment of levity, I could have done with a little less of it as a whole.

Debbie’s Desperation
And then there’s Debbie. I have such conflicted feelings about where the writers are going with Debbie. In past seasons, Debbie and Lip were my only sources of hope in the Gallagher family. Debbie has always had a huge heart, almost to a fault, but she always demonstrated a limit to the extent to which she would go to have a healthy, loving home environment. As Debbie matured and her home life became less stable with Fiona’s missteps, the teen sought to create a sense of normalcy through her romantic relationships. First, there was the pizza delivery boy who was entirely too old for her. I was relieved when she moved on from him and met her new, age appropriate boyfriend. I knew that sense of relief would not last long when I saw the flicker of hope in Debbie’s eyes last season when she listened to another teen mom talk about the loving, stable, supportive family she gained when she unexpectedly became pregnant.

Despite seeing where the writers were going with Debbie, it was still hard to watch where her determination and desperation led her. Her desperation for a “normal” family did not allow her to see the concern and panic on her boyfriend’s face when she talked to him about the pregnancy. This is classic Shameless, but it does not make it any easier to watch. I was so relieved that the writers decided to air out the secret pregnancy right at the end of the premiere. I really could not have taken several episodes of Debbie lying to Fiona and trying to hide her baby bump.

Straight Out Of Juvie
Although he was not the most heavily featured member of the Gallagher family in the season premiere, Carl in many ways was the most memorable. For me, however, he was memorable for the wrong reasons.

Carl spent his time in juvenile detention getting corn rows and making new friends in the African American population of the detention center. One of those friends is now staying at the Gallagher home and I have NO idea where any of that is going. I have a lot of thoughts about Carl referring to his younger brother, Liam, as the n-word, but I think that is a dialogue best left out of this review. Carl was once one of my favorite characters on Shameless and I do not care for the direction in which the writers are taking him. The problem with his newfound criminal enterprise is that it takes him out of the family dynamic, which is where he shines. I trust that the Shameless writers know this as well and that we’ll see Carl having meaningful interactions with his family as the season progresses.

Keep It Together, Lip
I don’t think there is any character I am more invested in on Shameless than Lip. Like Carl, Lip has always been one of my favorite Gallaghers and I just want good things for him. However, after 5 seasons of watching this show, I know better than to expect Lip’s journey to be without the occasional bump in the road, fist fight or questionable decision.

The writers have done a pretty good job at balancing my hopes for Lip with the anxiety I feel watching him trying to make it through college. With his financial woes out of the way, Lip has settled into college and may have even found his calling as a professor. It is also no surprise that Lip has clearly fallen for the married professor. I have no doubt that this will end poorly, but Lip’s big heart and his willingness to open himself up and fall in love is one of the things I like most about the character. Unfortunately for him, he falls for the wrong woman every, single time!

I will always welcome more Lip in an episode, but I don’t love this relationship with the married professor, which has now grown more complicated by him roughing up her son. I completely understand her appeal, but there is no way this ends well.

Gallagher of the Week: Ian.
Like Lip, I love the character of Ian and feel very invested in him. This is a testament to the writing and to Cameron Monaghan’s amazing, heartfelt portrayal of the character. If you’re active on social media or checked out other Shameless reviews, you’ll quickly notice that the most shocking turn of events in the Season 6 premiere centered on Ian and Mickey.

At times, the relationship between Mickey and Ian was one of the best written on television. The history between the pair is flawed, complicated, but full of wonderfully rewarding moments that feel well earned. The scene at Kevin’s bar when Mickey finally came out to his abusive, homophobic father was both brutal and beautiful. Their relationship was one of the few glimmers of hope on the show, despite all of the challenges the two faced individually and together.

As Gallavich fans will recall, Ian broke up with Mickey at the end of Season 5. The decision was understandable, as Ian was still grappling with his bipolar diagnosis and what that meant for his life. I, like other Gallavich fans, still held out hope that the breakup was only temporary – until Mickey earned a 15-year stint in prison for the attempted murder of Sammi. As an aside, I would be perfectly fine if we NEVER saw Sammi again. It is no fault of the actress, but just no. No more. Real life matters also complicated matters for Gallavich as one half of the pair, Noel Fisher, wanted more flexibility to work on other projects. Sending Mickey to jail gave the writers an indefinite out for Mickey, which makes sense.

With Fisher desiring scheduling flexibility, however, that also meant that Ian and Mickey would not spend this season professing their love for each other during jailhouse visits. Instead, what we got was a really awkward exchange, an incorrectly spelled prison tattoo and the sense that, at least for now, the couple is done. Although I understand the writers’ decision, I’m still devastated as a Gallavich fan. The bright side is that Monaghan is a brilliant performer and I have no doubt that he will deliver as we watch Ian continue to find his way.

Admittedly, there is part of me that worries about Mikey’s off-screen future behind bars. Committing violent acts for pay is the kind of occupation that may catch up with you, particularly in jail. I would be crushed in the writers killed Mickey in prison off screen. Even if Gallavich never reunite, it’s fiction and I want to enjoy having that inkling of hope.

Until Next Week!
What did you think of the Shameless premiere? The Gallaghers are always stressful to watch, yet consistently entertaining. Not too much happening with Fiona for now. I’m sure she will take the managerial position at the diner and I’m pretty sure that the position and/or her relationship will not end well. Any predictions for this season? Sound off below!