A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show deals with issues like child abandonment, paternity, sexual identity, and relationships. It also comments on the British working class and the welfare system.
Positive Role Models
The Gallaghers are dysfunctional, but also loving and loyal. Frank loves his children despite his inability to be a good parent. The children often take on parental roles and also engage in inappropriate behavior.
Violence & Scariness
Some arguing, pushing, and shoving. When Frank is drunk, he occasionally hits his older son.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Strong sexual innuendo; lots of conversations about "shagging." Birth control pills and condoms visible. Moments of partial nudity (including flashing of breasts, bare buttocks, and male genitals). One character is bisexual; another is gay.
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Frequent use of "f--k" and other curse words, though some are hard to understand thanks to strong Manchester accents.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of consumption of alcohol and lots of cigarette smoking (typical of many British series). Frank is an alcoholic. Liam accidentally swallows birth control pills, but he doesn't get hurt. The Maguires are drug dealers; occasional drug use is shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this award-winning British drama -- which follows the loving-but-dysfunctional Gallagher family, who live in a Manchester housing project -- is both dramatic and funny, with mature themes (alcoholism, child abandonment, homosexuality, and drug use, just to name a few), as well as nudity and lots of profanity (including "f--k"). The family patriarch is an alcoholic; the children must often take on parental roles to survive and to avoid being separated by social services. Despite its TV-14 rating, the show is quite adult-oriented and isn't really age-appropriate for younger teens.
Is It Any Good?
This decidedly mature show focuses on how the Gallagher children cope with living in what often seems like total anarchy. They each find their own way to come to terms with their father's behavior -- which is often shamelessly ridiculous and sometimes downright mean thanks to his endless drinking. They also spend a lot of their time evading the British authorities, who would separate the clan and place them in foster care if they knew about their circumstances. Meanwhile, in the absence of any real parent, the children embark in their own process of self-discovery and problem solving, which often leads to funny-but-inappropriate behavior like lying, stealing, sexual activity, and drug use.
Despite these serious themes, Shameless manages to tell the Gallaghers' story in a sweet, amusing way thanks to outstanding writing. And while the show's vision of Britian's impoverished working class is somewhat romanticized and over the top, it also offers pointed commentary about Britian's welfare system. Overall, it's an entertaining pick for mature viewers, who will be able to appreciate its underlying sensitivity and celebration of family loyalty and love. But with strong content that runs the gamut from frequent swearing to nudity, it's definitely not for young kids.
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Our Editors Recommend
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