This Sunday (January 11), while Hollywood's best, brightest, and wealthiest collect their Golden Globes, Showtime will be airing a much more blue collar-friendly event: the season five premiere of its beloved dramedy "Shameless."
Picking up mere months after its emotional season four finale, William H. Macy -- who is nominated for a Globe for "Shameless," by the way -- Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Allen White, and the rest of the zany Gallagher clan all return for season five, four episodes of which MTV News had the pleasure to screen in advance. And while we obviously can't reveal everything that goes down in first third of the season, here are some of the bat--t crazy secrets we learned from the Gallaghers:
Fiona's downward spiral continues... sort of.
Okay, okay, so it's not like Fiona is going to prison or allowing Liam to ingest cocaine like she did last year... at least not yet. In fact, when season five picks up she's still waitressing in Dermot Mulroney's halfway-house diner thing and attending NA meetings on a regular basis, so good for her.
However, Fiona doesn't exactly go back to the solid, self-assured Fiona we knew from seasons 1-3. Instead, we find a Fiona who is struggling to figure out who she is, and what type of person she wants to be. Is she destined to be the family's matriarch-slash-savior, or does she just have too much Frank in her to figure it all out? Is she doomed to repeat her father's mistakes, and put the ones she loves in jeopardy?
These will be the questions that drive Fiona's arc throughout the season, though her full-speed-ahead quest for a man is what takes center stage these first four episodes. And trust me, when Fiona wants something, she gets it...
Frank finds success... sort of.
When season five picks up, Frank is in as good a place as we've ever seen him, which to be fair isn't really saying much.
Newly equipped with a wife (Joan Cusack, back as Sheila) and a brand new liver, Frank sets out on the business of moving on with his life... and for at least a little while, that business is going well. However, Frank never really changes as much as we want him to, and both his horrible addiction and his horrible, Jesus-I-Can't-Stand-Her long-lost daughter, Sammy (Emily Bergl), get in the way of what Frank is trying to accomplish.
Basically what I'm trying to say is new season, same Frank.
Lip can't fit in.
Season five of "Shameless" takes place in the summer, which means that Lip has just returned home from his first year of college -- he's the first to attend in the Gallagher family. This brings up really interesting points about class and privilege, via the struggle Lip feels to fit in both at home in his blue collar community, and away with his wealthy friends and girlfriend.
"Shameless" has always been an affectionate celebration of blue collar communities, which is why it's interesting to see them effectively convey how moving up and out of that world can be a hard pill to swallow. Lip feels lost, and even though we all want him to get out of the South Side, it's hard not to identify with how lonely it is. His dissociation with his past and struggle to hold on to it is heartbreakingly real, and -- unlike many other things that happen in "Shameless" -- extremely relatable.
Ian and Mickey get real.
Speaking of meaty plot lines that are grounded in reality, Ian's (Cameron Monaghan) burgeoning bipolar disorder from last season does not get swept under the rug and forgotten. It's Ian's central story this year, and a lot of the weight of Ian's issues are being shouldered by Mickey (Noel Fisher).
Both actors really step to the plate as "Shameless" tackles mental illness, and though Ian's manic episodes are peppered with the absurd -- this is a "dramedy" after all -- they never feel forced or fall flat. Get ready to feel things, folks.
Debbie and Carl are insane.
While Lip, Fiona, and Ian carry most of the dramatic burden, Debbie (Emma Kenney) and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) -- who both hit puberty during their off-season in a major way -- go about doing ridiculous, very "Shameless" things. Specifically, Debbie sets off on the business of losing her virginity, while Carl orally pleasures older girls at the local pool. Seriously.
It's early yet in the season, so maybe "Shameless" will give these two a little bit more to work with in the second and third acts. Debbie was great last year as she dealt with teen bullying, and Carl's cringe-inducing/heartbreaking need to connect with his father has been a great running thread for his character, so let's just wait and see what's in store for the little Gallaghers as time goes on...
Veronica and Kev hit a snag.
As much as it sucks to see V (Shanola Hampton) and Steve (Steve Howey) butting heads, at least we don't have to see Kevin having sex with Veronica's mom anymore. (Count your blessings.)
Kevin and Veronica have lived together as hard-partying, childless bar owners for years now, so it makes a lot of sense that adding 2.5 babies to the equation (the baby Kevin had with V's mom, Carol, lives with her) changes things just a little bit. It's tough going, but I have every bit of faith that this OTP will work things out.
It's really, really good.
It's hard to top an emotional whirlwind of a season like "Shameless'" fourth, but I'm happy to report that five is just as good -- maybe even better since, you know, Kev isn't having sex with Veronica's mom. The show is growing and changing just like the Gallaghers are, though it's still just as excellent at balancing the blue collar comedy with the dramatic struggles that stem from that lifestyle as it was back in season one. Keep watching -- "Shameless" only gets better and better.