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Things In The Pilot Episode Of Shameless You Never Noticed

Showtime's "Shameless" is a remake of the UK series with the same name. This series is a hilarious, horrific, relentless, and completely shameless exploration of poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse. The series follows the Gallaghers, a family living in poverty on the South Side of Chicago, as the eldest sister Fiona (Emmy Rossum) in the absence of their mother, raises her younger siblings while their alcoholic father Frank (William H. Macy) wreaks havoc on their lives and the neighborhood with his drunken antics and money-making schemes.

"Shameless" is most certainly a comedy, laughing at the absurdity of life with Frank, but it also delves into some pretty serious subjects. Some of the issues it touches on include parental abandonment, alcoholism, mental health, and abuse. Considering audiences have been watching this show for a decade now, it may have been a while since you watched the pilot episode. The first episode of "Shameless" did an excellent job introducing every central character from Season 1, as well as the themes the series would be exploring in the first season and beyond. Here are things that you may have missed in the pilot episode of "Shameless."

Spoilers ahead!

The Gallagher kids contribute financially

In Episode 1 of "Shameless," we get our first glimpse into the chaotic lives of the Gallaghers, and one thing is immediately clear — these kids are raising themselves. More precisely, they are being raised by the eldest Gallager sibling, Fiona, who is just 21-years-old. In the first minutes of the series, we see Fiona wake all the children to get ready for school. During breakfast, they pass a collection box around the table for their electric bill. As they discuss how short they are on the bill, 18 dollars, someone casually asks if Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) contributed. Debbie (Emma Kenney) then tells him, "You're almost nine, you're gonna have to start pulling your weight," by getting a real job.

As we watch Fiona wrangle the washing machine into working order, bracing it with a chair, and Debbie forge their father's signature on a permission slip for Ian (Cameron Monaghan), it is clear these kids have taken responsibility for providing for themselves. As the season moves forward, we learn they don't pay rent living in a home owned by Frank's aunt Ginger, but the kids pool their resources to pay for everything they need, including electricity and food. At one point, Fiona even extracts change from Frank's pockets while he is passed out on the floor to give to Ian for his field trip.

Frank has a skewed perception of his children

Frank Gallagher has a skewed perception of his children. In the opening scene, the family stands around a bonfire, partying with their neighbors. Through a voiceover, Frank talks about his neighborhood, the South Side of Chicago, and his neighbors, Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton), before describing his children glowingly while ignoring their problematic behaviors. Frank says he's proud of his children "because every single one of them reminds me a little bit of me." A limiting statement suggests he doesn't see who his children are as people and doesn't see the state of his life, or his family, with clarity.

As he talks about his children, beginning with Fiona, who he calls "his rock," which is a fair statement, Frank's descriptions become divorced from reality. For instance, Frank says, "Lip smart as a whip. Straight As on the honor roll, boys definitely going somewhere," as the scene cuts to Lip being chased by the police. The descriptions continue, as do scenes undermining Frank's statements about his children.

Frank acknowledges he doesn't know Carl very well, thinking him an animal lover when the camera cuts to Carl about to torture a cat with fire, an early hint Carl might have sociopathic personality traits. Frank calls Debbie an angel in the same breath he acknowledges she steals while suggesting his youngest, Liam (Brenden Sims), who is Black, looks more like his first sponsor in AA than himself. Frank is correct about many of his statements. Fiona is a great help to him. Lip is probably a genius. Ian is a hard worker, but simply because he is desperate to escape Frank.

Ian is in the closet

In Episode 1, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) discovers his brother Ian is hiding something from the family — his sexual orientation. Lip finds Ian's nudie magazines hidden in their room and confronts Ian about his sexuality. At first, it seems Lip is judging Ian for being gay, but as they talk, it becomes clear Lip is upset Ian didn't feel safe telling him. Throughout Season 1, Ian continues to hide the fact that he is gay from his family and friends, only admitting the truth when put in situations where not telling is worse than being honest.

Finally, at the end of Season 1 and after spending a night in jail, Ian tells Fiona he is gay, and her response is a simple, "I know" with no judgment or tears, just acceptance. Ian's journey to self-acceptance and owning his identity as a gay man begins in the pilot episode of "Shameless" when he finally talks about it to his brother Lip. Eventually, Ian will come out to the world, but in the first season, much like the pilot episode, he isn't ready to tell more than a few people.

Ian is having an affair

Lip discovers Ian is having an affair with Kash (Pej Vahdat), Ian's boss, when Lip returns the tools he borrowed from Kash back to the store where Ian works. When Lip finds Kash and Ian sweaty and acting strange, Lip realizes they are wearing miss-matched shoes, leading Lip to surmise they are romantically involved. Lip is angry with Ian about having an affair with Kash, who is married with children, and angry that Ian accepts gifts from Kash. Lip accuses Ian of being a kept boy before Ian gets angry, explaining that he gives Kash gifts, too. Ian then tells Lip he has no clue what he is talking about, that what Ian and Kash have is a real relationship.

Throughout Season 1, "Shameless" continues to explore the complications Ian's affair with Kash has brought into Ian's life. The situation comes to a head when Kash's wife discovers their affair with footage from their new security cameras. During Season 1, Ian goes to great lengths to keep his affair secret, even getting a pretend girlfriend at school to quell people's suspicions about his sexual orientation. The pilot episode of "Shameless" introduced how Ian's complex and deceptive romantic entanglements will be fodder for drama in the seasons to come.

All Gallaghers engage in some form of trickery or thievery

In Episode 1 of "Shameless", it becomes clear that petty crime is a way of life for the Gallager clan. During the episode's opening sequence, we learn Debbie collects change for UNICEF year-round, but only turns in some of her earnings. While scrounging for the electric bill, Carl is chided for stealing from the church collection plate. Ian doesn't steal anything, but he lies about having an affair. Even Fiona returns clothes to stores after wearing them. When we discover in the pilot episode of "Shameless" that Steve steals cars for a living, it becomes clear he has the same morally gray flexibility as the Gallagher family.

Despite being whip-smart, Lip has already had trouble with the law, as we see in the opening scenes. As Season 1 develops, we learn Lip is getting paid to take the SAT for other students and writing papers for money, in addition to his more honest tutoring income. In Episode 1, Frank cashes his disability check at the bar he hangs out at, the Alibi Room, while the bartender, Kevin, gives him a hard time about being followed by an insurance fraud investigator. As Season 1 develops, it becomes clear insurance fraud and personal injury claims are how Frank makes money. Petty theft appears to be accepted in their neighborhood as a whole when the entire block takes meat from a delivery truck that has become lost on the South Side of Chicago.

Karen's family dynamic is toxic

While they may look like a traditional family with a father who goes to work and a wife who stays home cooking elaborate meals, Karen Jackson's (Laura Slade Wiggins) family is toxic and just as weird as the Gallagher family. Karen's mom, Shelia (Joan Cusack), is oblivious that her daughter is giving sexual favors under the dining room table while getting tutored for physics by Lip Gallagher. Sheila is also neurotic, insisting everyone take their shoes off and place them in a plastic bag before entering her home. Karen's father, Eddie (Joel Murray), is cold to his wife, verbally abusive to his daughter, and has a weird obsession with clowns.

The pilot episode sets the stage for everything that will transpire between Karen, Sheila, and Eddie. Eventually, Eddie packs his clowns and leaves his family in a disgusted rage after catching Karen under the dining table. As Season 1 continues, we learn Sheila is agoraphobic and hasn't left her home in years. Eddie eventually moves back into the house's basement, but he is filled with anger and resentment when he returns to find Frank living with his wife and daughter. 

The Jackson's toxic family dynamic escalates at the end of the season, ending in tragedy when Eddie commits suicide. Both Eddie's and Karen's actions leading up to this event are shocking, although not surprising. Considering how the family treated each other in the pilot episode, it was clear the Jacksons weren't headed for a happily-ever-after.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Tony has a crush on Fiona

In Episode 1, Frank is brought home while in a drunken stupor by the police, interrupting Steve (Justin Chatwin) and Fiona's tryst. The officer who knocks on the door, Tony (Tyler Jacob Moore), is obviously surprised, confused, and maybe a little disappointed when Steve opens the door shirtless. From the awkward tension in the room that develops when Tony and another officer carry Frank into the living room and lay him on the ground, two things are abundantly clear. Frank being brought home in this state is a regular occurrence, and Tony is sweet on Fiona, happy to do helpful things like bringing her father home to win her favor.

As Season 1 progresses, Tony's crush becomes more apparent when he asks Fiona to be his date for an awards banquet. Tony's comments about them going to preschool together make it obvious he has carried a torch for Fiona since childhood. Unsurprisingly, Tony dislikes Steve, perceiving him as an interloper and competition for Fiona's heart. Towards the end of Season 1, Tony's nice-guy persona cracks when he discovers Steve is driving a stolen car. Tony begins following Steve, ultimately arresting him for car theft. However, before taking him to the station, Tony attacks Steve while handcuffed. Tony shifts gears, blackmailing Steve with the threat of prison time, so Steve will abandon Fiona, making room for Tony in her life.

Fiona is stressed out and needs help

Despite her devotion to her siblings and tough attitude, Fiona is nearing a breaking point. We see Fiona crying repeatedly during Episode 1. At one point, she even yells at and kicks an unconscious Frank while he lies on the living room floor. In Episode 1, we learn the Gallagher kids' mom, Monica (Chloe Webb), left when Fiona was 19. For the last two years, Fiona has struggled to keep her siblings together under one roof. In Season 1, it becomes clear the fear of social services and her siblings being put into foster care is never far from Fiona's mind. In fact, at one point in Season 1, we learn the kids were temporarily in foster care, and Fiona doesn't want that to happen again.

Despite needing help, Fiona is reluctant to accept it. We see this in the pilot episode when Steve buys the family a new washing machine after noticing theirs is barely working. Like many adult children of alcoholics who grow up in chaotic home environments, Fiona has learned to rely upon herself and is uncomfortable asking for help. She has an inflated sense of responsibility, always putting the needs of her siblings and her father, Frank, above her own. We see Steve repeatedly try to help her throughout Season 1, and despite needing the help, we watch Fiona repeatedly refuse.

If you or anyone you know is struggling 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).

Kevin and Veronica's relationship is committed

Contrary to their constant bickering and sarcastic repartee, Kevin and Veronica are more committed to their relationship than either might let on. For an instant in Episode 1, the camera focuses on Kevin's arm, where the name Veronica is tattooed. This small detail in Episode 1 hints at the direction their relationship takes in the rest of Season 1. Kevin and Veronica have a fake wedding to satisfy her dead father's requirements for her inheritance, a down-payment on a home, which winds up being only 500 dollars. However, after their fake wedding, Kevin talks Veronica into fostering a child, Ethel, as practice for having their own family someday.

Although Kevin embraces fatherhood, Veronica resists at first. As Season 1 concludes, it seems like Veronica might be coming around to the idea of keeping the 13-year-old girl after learning about the fundamentalist religious cult she was rescued from and how she has been separated from her own baby. With this side-plot, "Shameless" again uses humor and hijinks to explore serious subjects like the foster care system, child abuse, sexual assault, and spiritual abuse. This approach is common for the series. On the surface, we have drama and humor, but underneath is a current of tragedy and trauma.

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.

Steve repeats his name twice introducing himself to Fiona

Steve and Fiona meet after Steve tries to retrieve Fiona's purse after it was stolen while dancing with Veronica at a club during one of her rare nights out. When Steve introduces himself, he awkwardly says his name twice. You would never suspect anything other than nervousness while watching Steve stumble over his name in the first episode of "Shameless," but later in the season, when it is revealed Steve is lying about who he is, his early behavior suddenly seems suspicious. Later in Season 1, Debbie discovers Steve is actually Jimmy, and his family isn't from Detroit. They live in a mansion on the North Side of Chicago.

Debbie goes to the mansion, confronting Candice, Jimmy's mom, when Jimmy comes home to find Debbie sitting in the living room with his mother. We learn Jimmy became Steve shortly before meeting Fiona when he left medical school at Michigan State. Steve hides this from his family by leading a double life as a car thief named Steve on the South Side of Chicago with the Gallaghers and as a future doctor with his rich family on the North Side. Despite lying, Steve or Jimmy, whatever you want to call him, does love Fiona and her siblings. He even purchases the vacant house next to the Gallagher's home.

Fiona resents being judged for where she is from

Other than Steve, most of the people Fiona interacts with in "Shameless" are from the neighborhood where she grew up on the South Side of Chicago. However, in Episode 1, we see Fiona's tough exterior crack for a moment when she overhears two men talking about her being from the projects. After serving them at a concession stand at a sports arena, Fiona overhears one of the guys asking the other if he would "ever hit that." Fiona's mask falls for a moment when we see her deflate after hearing the other guy respond, "project girls don't abort."

Fiona, for the most part, helps her family without complaint, running from one part-time job to another between cleaning, cooking and caring for her siblings. She does thankless jobs like cleaning rooms, serving food, waitressing, before going home to do more, with little acknowledgement from her father. She refuses help from Steve, saying she doesn't need charity. But this offhand comment clearly cuts through her tough facade, making us wonder, did she have dreams for herself before her mom left her to raise her siblings? In this scene, we have another example of how the pilot episode of "Shameless" beautifully introduced the main characters and themes explored throughout Season 1 and beyond.