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This is the worst season of Shameless, according to fans

Showtime's Shameless, the audacious series about the exploits of the impoverished Gallagher family, has enjoyed an unusually long lifespan for an hour-long dramedy. When its ninth season premiered, the show became the longest-running Showtime original scripted series, a record it extended with its 10th and upcoming 11th seasons. However, in the world of TV, longevity doesn't always equal quality. And unfortunately for Shameless, it seems that its most recent installment has been its least successful.

Season 10 of Shameless premiered in November 2019, and from the first episode on, fans and critics alike have been noting the dip in quality. Obviously, these views are entirely subjective, and everyone is going to have their own thoughts on what they consider to be a good or bad season of the show. But just going off the accumulated opinions from fans and critics, it looks like the general consensus is that season 10 of Shameless is the worst of the series.

Let's take a closer look at exactly why people are disappointed with the penultimate season of Shameless.

The characters lack depth on season 10

Above everything else, Shameless has always been about the characters. Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy), his children, and all their friends and associates are the driving force behind the success of the show. According to fans, this is one of the areas in which season 10 has stumbled the most.

In previous seasons, the Gallaghers engaged in wild and shocking antics, while still feeling human and grounded in reality. However, some fans feel that season 10 has kept all the craziness, but lost the connection to the characters themselves. Reddit user Round115 used the character of Ian's (Cameron Monaghan) parole officer, Paula Bitterman (Rachel Dratch), as an example of the way in which season 10 lost the magic. "It feels like characters like the Milkovichs and Jody and Sammi had lives that continued even when they weren't on screen," they wrote. "Can you imagine [Paula Bitterman's] life off screen? No, because that character isn't a human being. She's just 'Let's bring in Rachel Dratch so she can be whacky [sic]...'"

Another example is the evolution of Debbie Gallagher (Emma Kenney). Writing for AV Club, Myles McNutt said of her season 10 presence, "I loathe Debbie. She is a bad person, and not in a way I find remotely interesting... Debbie's cavalier approach to life is neither funny or dynamic: it's just galling..."

A big problem with shallow characterizations is that they tend to lead to lifeless plots, and season 10's lack of focus in that department hasn't been lost on the critics, either.

The plots of Shameless season 10 feel aimless

In another AV Club review, McNutt described episode 7 of the tenth season as having "the energy of a sitcom episode that doesn't work." He expanded on the problem with the way the storylines were handled in season 10 by saying, "[I]t never feels like multiple Gallaghers can just be 'living life' at any given time: there always needs to be some arch plot that envelops them." McNutt went on to cite the corrupt parole officer plotline as an example of a shallow story, adding that it "[distracts] from other, more meaningful storylines that could address any number of topics (Ian's mental health, the future of their relationship, etc.)..."

Writing for The Michigan Daily, Justin Pollack noted that recent seasons had a similar issue: "Numerous storylines have been introduced, only to be sidelined with no explanation." Pollack noted that that trend continued in the season 10 premiere, which focused on storylines that felt "stale and not worthy of including in a premiere."

Even in a review that was more charitable than some, Daniel Kurland of Den of Geek wrote that the storylines in the season 10 premiere were "rather disjointed" and noted that it was "simultaneously very busy, but accomplishes little."

Shameless is clearly suffering now that Fiona is no longer on the show

Something that was hard to ignore as the series chugged along into its tenth season was the absence of one of its most important characters: Fiona (Emmy Rossum), who left the series at the end of season 9. McNutt summed up the character's importance to the show by noting, "There was always a clear difference between Fiona's bad decisions and her father's, even if we understood them as being part of the same environment, and that was crucial to maintaining Shameless' sense of humanity."

Writing for TV Fanatic, Paul Dailly declared, "Losing Emmy Rossum may be the death knell for Shameless." Dailly continued, "Even if you felt like Fiona's storyline had run its course, every other storyline on Shameless Season 10 feels out of place without the eldest Gallagher being there to keep things moving."

Shameless will be returning for one final season, and there are hopes that Rossum will come back to reunite Fiona with the rest of the Gallagher clan one last time. Considering the lackluster reaction to season 10, let's hope the eleventh takes some notes from the critics and gives fans a great sendoff.