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Shameless: The Fan Moment That Cemented The Show's Popularity For Emma Kenney

When the U.S. adaptation of "Shameless" hit the airwaves in 2011, it proved a daring and delightfully offbeat hodgepodge of intense human drama, side-splitting comedy, and piercing social commentary. And it spent the ensuing decade delivering a run of stories and a cast of characters that continued to push the series well beyond the established boundaries of television.

Over that span, the series also built one of the more fiercely devoted fan bases in the television landscape. And it seems the realization that "Shameless" had inspired such fervor in viewers didn't really occur to its younger stars until later in the series run. At least that's what Emma Kenney and her on-screen brother Ethan Cutkosky told Entertainment Weekly during an interview celebrating the show's final season. Per the interview, the duo joined the cast of "Shameless" as younger Gallagher siblings Debbie and Carl when they were both ten years old. And as Kenney recounted, she didn't really understand how passionate its fans were until she hit her late teens. 

"Probably when we would go film in Chicago," Kenney noted of when she first understood how many people genuinely loved the show. She went on to say, "I remember around the time we were 17 is when the show hit Netflix and we were in Chicago, and I don't know if I'm being dramatic by saying at least 100 people at a time were outside the hotel where we'd all stay, and they hired security to protect us." 

Shameless' Netflix debut helped cement the series' fan fervor

Given the popularity of "Shameless" during its heyday, it's sort of miraculous that Emma Kenney and Ethan Cutkosky remained insulated from the show's fandom for so long. As wild as Kenney claims it was to walk around with a security detail, the actor told Entertainment Weekly she and Cutkosky had another unexpectedly intense fan interaction while attending a music festival. "I remember another time Ethan and I and a couple of our friends went to Lollapalooza, that music festival in Chicago, and Ethan and I just got freaking mobbed," the actor said.

Further detailing the encounter, Kenney added, "It was funny because Ethan and I actually had backstage passes, but our friends just had regular ones, and so we wanted to be with our friends and we just went out into the crowd and somebody straight jumped on me." As Kenney recounted, Cutkosky actually had to pull the zealous fan off of her, which nearly turned the overly-friendly encounter violent.

Kenney later added that the Lollapalooza interaction was all the more intense because Chicagoans are far more passionate than most fans about their hometown show. Still, both actors note the encounter also came around the time "Shameless" made its Netflix debut. And according to Cutkosky, that debut significantly bolstered the show's already fervid fanbase, noting, "Yeah, I would say it really felt bigger than what we were doing by the time it hit Netflix." Given the continued popularity of "Shameless" on Netflix, it's safe to say Kenney and Cutkosky will be fending off fans for many years to come.