Exclusive: What ‘Shameless’ Won’t Show


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The Gallaghers make no apologies for their behavior. (Photo: NBC)

We now know how far is too far for Showtime’s outrageous dramedy SHAMELESS.

Writer Mike O’Malley says the network draws the line at swiping library books!

“I wrote an episode about Bill Macy [Frank Gallagher] lying to his son about having cancer, so the kid could go have a free week at camp,” he tells me.  “[But] the guys at Showtime didn’t think that the Gallaghers were the kind of kids who stole library books.

“That’s absolutely true. Call Showtime.  Ask [executive V.P. of programming] Gary Levine.  He was like ‘The Gallaghers have a code.  They don’t steal library books.  Library books are for people who don’t have the same advantages other people have.’”

SHAMELESS was an overnight water-cooler hit for the cable channel, following the (often illegal) escapades of a fiercely loyal Chicago family who makes no apologies for its behavior.

O’Malley — in Los Angeles Saturday to promote his new NBC comedy WELCOME TO THE FAMILY — said SHAMELESS producer John Wells challenges his writers to push the envelope with over-the-top story arcs.

Last season, Frank Gallagher offered Vicodin to a toddler, his tween daughter, Debbie (Emma Kenney), pretended to be sexually molested and bartender Kev (Steve Howey) tried to conceive a baby with his mother-in-law.

“You try to take every taboo subject in life and go at it,” he says.  “SHAMELESS is really a show about resilience. The resilience of people who have a narcissistic, alcoholic father and an absent bipolar, schizophrenic mother.

“There were some times early on in the first season of that show where I tried to add some moral heft to a certain character — and I do think there are characters on that show that do have it — but he was very adamant about saying ‘Hey, we have this opportunity on this show, it is on pay cable, it is called Shameless.  Anyone who has seen the opening credits of the show is not going to be surprised by the content.”

SHAMELESS returns for its fourth season this winter.

Do you think SHAMELESS goes too far?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly