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Shameless: What Parents Should Know Before Letting Their Kids Watch The Drama

It doesn't take much for any parent to be better than Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) on "Shameless." After all, this is a man who put up his youngest son as collateral for a bet, losing him in the process. However, parents still ought to think twice before letting their young kids watch the Showtime series. 

Still, "Shameless" is rated TV-MA for a reason. In the pilot episode alone, there are multiple sexual encounters (and since it was on Showtime, there's plenty of nudity to go along with it) and ample profanity. These are common occurrences throughout the series, in addition to drug use and physical violence. It's definitely not for little kids, so if you're planning a rewatch in the near future, make sure they're tucked in bed in another room before turning it on.

However, some parents have taken to Common Sense Media to make the argument that the show's still appropriate for kids who are 14 and up. While it does contain mature material, many believe the show tackles sensitive topics well and brings up important socioeconomic issues that teenagers can ultimately benefit from. 

It comes down to what your child can handle

"Shameless" tackles many taboo subjects, but it typically addresses them maturely, not afraid to show the ugly side of drug use and alcoholism. The show would occasionally go a step too far, like when Liam (still a toddler) gets into Fiona's (Emmy Rossum) cocaine stash. It can be tough material for even adults to witness, but some think "Shameless" could be viewed by kids as young as 14 under the proper context. 

One user on Common Sense Media wrote a review of the show, stating, "It is definitely a show that accurately portrays problems many families go through. Shameless does not glamorize anything, and shows the effects and consequences of things." Other reviewers mention how teenagers do have to deal with drugs and sex starting at a certain age, so educating them on what can go wrong can be a benefit. Of course, some are adamant that the show is strictly 18+ and shouldn't be viewed by anyone not considered an adult. 

As with most things, it's a matter of knowing your child and what they can handle. Some 15-year-olds may be able to watch "Shameless" and take in the messages, while others may be impacted negatively through viewing. These days, kids can watch virtually anything without parental supervision, so one way or another, it's vital to have conversations with your child discussing these subjects so that they make good decisions in their own lives. 

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.