American remakes of British television shows tend to be hit or miss. The Office certainly found a place in America’s heart, but countless others just didn’t quite make the trip across the pond.
Showtime’s Shameless gives an award-winning Brit series a Chicago-style makeover, resulting in one of the grittiest portrayals of lower class family life on U.S. television.
Shameless is centered on Chi-town South Side’s Gallagher family. William H. Macy (in possibly one of his strongest roles) plays Frank, the family’s deadbeat, alcoholic patriarch who acts like anything but a father. Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is the oldest child, and hence the glue that holds the clan together. The twentysomething must raise her five siblings (who range from a toddler to a 17-year-old), juggle a handful of crappy jobs and strive for something of a social/dating life (she’s kind of a total hottie).
The show could definitely be considered a comedy, but only if you have a dark, slightly twisted sense of humor. The characters (who truly make Shameless such a success) get caught up in all kinds of entertaining schemes, but this isn’t your momma’s sitcom where the family always ends up gathered around the dinner table at the end of the day. Each character faces real struggles, issues I couldn’t relate to during even my lowest points in life. Yet, somehow, they are so believable one can’t help but love (or, in Frank’s case, love to hate) them and celebrate when they succeed in some way.
Catch up with the crew at 10 p.m. Sundays. Season 1 is available on DVD via Netflix.
THURSDAY MARCH 8
30 Rock (8 p.m., NBC) – Kenneth “We can’t say ‘Dick Wolf’ on television” Parcell takes on a new job as network censor, pitting himself against Liz and the writers.
Up All Night (9:30 p.m., NBC) – Reagan and Chris go overboard trying to befriend a lively couple that also has a young child.
Awake (10 p.m., NBC) – In Michael’s one reality, his son is kidnapped; in his other life, he investigates the case of a missing boy. In both, people begin to question Michael’s sanity.
Delocated (midnight, Cartoon
Network) – “Jon” takes a vow of silence; Yvgeny’s girlfriend cheats on him.
FRIDAY MARCH 9
Portlandia (Season finale, 10 p.m., IFC) – As Season 2 comes to a close, a new popular Portland brunch joint opens. Brunchmania takes hold of all our favorite characters and Tim Robbins guests as a crazed man who’s appointed himself line-cutter cop outside the busy restaurant.
SATURDAY MARCH 10
Game Change (Movie premiere, 9 p.m., HBO) – Only an election as mind-boggling as 2008’s would spur its own HBO film just four years later. Based off John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s book of the same name, Game Change follows the most recent presidential campaign as Alaska governor Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) joins the race with Sen. John McCain (Ed Harris).
Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m., NBC) – Jonah Hill hosts with the hopes that people will still think he’s funny even though he lost all that weight and is kind of weird looking now. The Shins perform.
SUNDAY MARCH 11
The Walking Dead (9 p.m., AMC) – May Dale’s wise words and epic facial expressions live on in that big RV in the sky. Will his death dictate the group’s decision about Randall?
Eastbound and Down (10 p.m., HBO) – Kenny finds himself in a spout of bad luck after losing Shane, so he naturally assumes baby Toby has cursed him.
Life’s Too Short (10:30 p.m., HBO) – Warwick interrupts an uncomfortable video chat between Ricky, Stephen and Steve Carell to seek divorce negotiation advice.
TUESDAY MARCH 12
Fashion Star (Series premiere, 9:30 p.m., NBC) – Fourteen fashion designers compete for the chance to launch their clothing lines at large retailers. Fans will actually be able to buy clothing from each episode’s winner every week. Model Elle Macpherson hosts; menswear designer John Varvatos and humans Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie mentor the designers.
WEDNESDAY MARCH 13
America’s Next Top Model British Invasion (9 p.m., CW) – Tyra Banks is now a Harvard Grad and is using her power to bolster international relations. Just kidding (not about Harvard, though) – seven Yanks take on seven Brits in the 18th cycle of a show that coined the phrase “I didn’t come here to make friends.” (I’d suggest this as a drinking game code word, but one should always be intoxicated whilst watching Ty Ty Baby).
American Weed (10 p.m., Nat Geo) – Election Day nears and anxiety surrounds the proposed ban of medical marijuana dispensaries in Fort Collins.