Third-episode verdict: Shameless (US)

The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 3

In the US: Sundays, 10pm ET/PT, Showtime

So Shameless, based on the Channel 4 series of the same, has been airing on Showtime for three weeks now. Time to pass a third-episode verdict.

On the whole, it’s been variable. Episode 1 was 50% pleasure, 50% pain, in which some loveable young rogues rip off the benefits system and try to make ends meet because their father, Frank, is a work-shy, amoral, immoral alcoholic. While it had romantic moments and funny moments and there were times that you were surprised to be watching a US show – what will all the nudity, swearing and members of the working/underclasses involved, –it wasn’t an especially fun hour of TV.

Episode 2 was a lot better, a lot more fun, while still maintaining many of the themes of the previous episode. We got some mental sex, thanks to special guest star Joan Cusack as the agoraphobic wife of Frank’s best friend, as well as a cross-border smuggling story. It was also warmer and funnier than the previous episode, where we got to see the love Frank the complete git bewilderingly inspires in his family and friends.

Episode 3, however, was back to episode 1 quality, maybe a little better, with gay middle son having to deal with some female interest and the family discovering their aunt has been dead for 12 years while Frank’s continued to cash her benefits cheques every month. We also have the continuing up and down romance between the sensible eldest daughter and her car thief boyfriend, which is the one central warm thing in the whole show.

I’m actually probably going to keep watching the show. It’s got a great cast, even if William H Macy doesn’t quite fit the lead role; it’s not desperately enjoyable, but the stories are interesting, it can be quite funny and it explores matters that are unexplored on most other US dramas. But if there’s a downturn in quality, it’s on a knife’s edge.

Carusometer rating: 3
Rob’s predication: Might actually last a couple of seasons, if not more