8 Valuable Love Lessons We Can Learn From 'Shameless'

by Allison Kuehn
Warner Bros. Television

"Shameless," even as the name of the show, is pretty straightforward: glamorous and prissy appearances are not the name of the game in this storyline.

The opening credits are shot in the Gallagher family's bathroom, featuring pretty candid activities, like taking a dump, having sex on top of the sink, kids getting wrapped up in toilet paper and a toddler brushing his teeth after it fell in the toilet.

William H. Macy has been quoted saying, "'Shameless' is a rough show, and it's not for everyone, but it's also beautiful."

The show's beauty lies in the fact that it presents realistic standards of living for its characters, given their circumstances, which is a rare gem in mainstream television.

Here are eight lessons of tough love from "Shameless":

1. People are inherently flawed.

Frank (William H. Macy), one of the characters in the show, is a chronic alcoholic, a flaw the entire show revolves around.

He is self-centered, unemployed and all-around degenerate. The worst part is that he seems proud of it. He's completely unaware of how it negatively impacts his family.

Fiona's no saint either, even though she's the rock that holds the family together. Her scruples-free attitude knows no boundaries when it comes to men.

She knowingly has sex with a married man. Now, we shouldn't judge her for that, but she tends to have ulterior motives.

After she takes a cop's virginity, she uses his obvious feelings for her to get him to release her brothers from jail. She's pretty badass, but I wouldn't describe her as having her morals perfectly aligned.

Fiona's off-and-on boyfriend, Steve ("Jimmy") is no angel either. His constant mind games and arrogant attitude are so off-putting, you almost want to reach through your TV screen and slap him.

2. Flawed people have redeeming qualities.

Frank has his moments of charm, kindness and altruism, despite his unorthodox actions. He is a low-life scumbag, but the audience loves him for it, because he is also a fun-loving character who loves to party.

From fleeing on a garbage truck to escape loan sharks to trading his son Liam for gambling debt, the rawness is slightly endearing. He has unexpected moments of wisdom for his kids, where he tries to put things in perspective.

Steve, while arrogant, has been loyal, not only to Fiona, but her entire family. He's always there when they need something. He has helped them out financially, paying bills at the last minute.

3. Quality guys exist, but they are not perfect.

Steve is a catch. He's attractive and attentive at the same time. Many guys would have bailed after realizing what a shit storm the Gallagher family was.

He genuinely loves Fiona, but lying about his identity and hiding his family from her was an epic fuck up. After Fiona leaves him at the airport, he doesn't seem to hold that decision against her. However, he does smuggly suggest they go on a double date after they both wind up seeing other people.

Oh, yeah, and he gets married.

4. Being the first born is a burden.

Being the eldest child means it's automatically your job to be a role model whether you like it or not.

Responsibility always falls on your shoulders in an overwhelming way that your younger siblings never experience, and you feel some bitterness about it.

In Fiona's extreme case, she had to drop out of high school to raise five kids and pick up the pieces her mom left behind.

5. Sometimes, you need to hear the harsh truths.

Steve isn't afraid to call the cards as he sees them.

He called out Frank for giving Ian a bloody nose without reason, told Fiona that her dad is a piece of shit and suggested that she run away to Costa Rica with him, all of which took some serious balls.

It may not have been what she wanted to hear, but it was what she needed to hear.

6. The huge wealth disparity with the one percent does exist.

The original version of "Shameless" was shot in England, where poverty is apparent in a tiered class system.

In America, where a tiny fraction control the nation's wealth, "Shameless" depicts what it's really like to struggle financially in this country in a post-recession period.

The show highlights this stark contrast with the men that Fiona dates. They all have different personalities, but they are high-rollers coming from well-off families. And dating these guys tends to make her feel pretty insecure.

7. You can't always cut out family members from your life, no matter how toxic they are.

Frank is nothing but an alcoholic mess, but he is always around, and there's no getting rid of him.

When friends become toxic forces in your life, you are foolish not to let them go. With family members, that isn't so easy. Remember, you have to love them, but you don't have to like them.

8. Kids with tough childhoods grow up way too fast.

Every one of the Gallagher kids is as tough as nails. Since they're generally left to their own devices, they develop street smarts that their peers lack.

It's safe to say that all of them (except baby Liam) know they don't have the most reliable parents.