There has yet to be a character on premium cable that better epitomizes everything a woman wants to be (and seemingly does it without wearing any makeup) than Fiona Gallagher. She's become the Slumlord Queen of "Shameless," and for good reason. She's strong, beautiful, selfless and just generally a badass.
We all find ourselves watching her without the least bit of contempt that usually comes with watching a rather attractive female on screen. She has strength in her that we all wish we had, yet we can relate to her in trying to understand the struggles of being born into poverty.
Maybe it's because we've experienced the likes of it. We see her more on our level: a 20-something trying to get by. Now that we're a little older and many of us have shifted from college to semi-professional jobs, we have begun to understand the stress of everyday life and the state of squalor many of us are reduced to while living in the city on a post-recession budget.
Though our parents may still be paying our cell phone bills and covering our health insurance, we feel moderately independent. We empathize with Emmy Rossum's character because we have somewhat of an understanding of the pressures of being an adult, only imagining the kind of hell a girl our age is living, with five mouths feed and a drunken dad to manage.
They say that wisdom is the product of experience. Thus, based on experience, Fiona is the wisest 20-something out there. She's been through what many of us will not experience for another 10 years, or ever even. By this standard, we've come to realize that Fiona is as good a role model as we're ever going to get.
I mean, if she can raise a family on top of getting through the everyday struggles of being 20, we can most certainly get through our seemingly cushy life of paid cell phone plans. It's always easier to learn from someone else's mistakes; here are 10 lessons we can take from Fiona Gallagher:
There's Always A Job
Nothing is beneath Fiona Gallagher when it comes to getting the money she needs, even if it means cleaning up piles of sh*t. Scraping for jobs doesn't even begin to describe Fiona's past attempts at work. There is nothing she won't do, nor is there anything that is beneath her. There will always be a job, especially for someone who has significantly more time, a possible degree, more money and better connections than a high school dropout from the South Side.
Don't Rely On Anyone But Yourself
Someone is always going to let you down, so don't rely on anyone. The few times that Fiona foolishly believed Frank and her deadbeat mother's word, she ended up proven wrong and, more or less, screwed over. The quicker you learn that you can't rely on other people, the faster you will start doing things for yourself.
Don't Date The Bad Boy
A guy who steals cars may have a few things going for him (bad boy complex and all), but there are going to be a lot of strings attached. A man with that type of profession is likely to get caught up in a lot of schemes, making him unreliable and irresponsible... and he may leave you wondering if he was taken on a boat to be shot by his illegal wife's father.
Never Forget About Your Family
Family is the only thing in your life that will remain stable. They will be there even when you don't have a job, or a boyfriend, or a house. It is your job to support your family in any way you can. While it may not mean paying the bills, it does mean putting in the time and effort that's required to make your parents happy.
Always Save Some Money
You never know when you are going to need it. What if the sink breaks and you have to pay a plumber? What if you lose your job and have to live off your savings for a few weeks? Though the average 20-something may not have to pay for healthcare fees, family cell plans or costly high school lunches for five people, there will be expenses that come up that you never expected. You have to be prepared for the worst case scenario, like when Fiona needed to raise money to get the kids out of foster care.
It's Okay To Sleep Around
"First-date-Fiona? The girl who puts out waitin' in line at the drive-thru?" - Kevin
With little time for a relationship, Fiona has no shame in sleeping around and thoroughly enjoying the perks of casual sex. Amidst her hectic lifestyle, we are always happy to see Fiona indulging in some well-deserved "me time," if only for a few climactic minutes. She has no problem owning that she enjoys the casual one-night stand as much as every woman should.
You Aren't Above Using Your Femininity
Fiona understands that femininity is a tool; it doesn't make you a bad person for showing a little cleavage. The world is unfair, as is the life of poverty. There is nothing wrong with exploiting your youth and your looks to stay ahead of the curve; however, there should always be a line that you refuse to cross. (Even Fiona wouldn't blow the manager of the local supermarket.)
True Friends Are Your Family
Like your family, you should have at least one friend you can count on. Every girl should have one live cam-porn star neighbor, who will be there when the going gets tough. Life is too hard to get through it alone, and you need someone who is going to care about you outside of your family. You also need someone you can confide in, because there is nothing better than a good breakdown.
Jeans And A T-Shirt Are Always The Right Combination
Is there a better look than when Fiona throws on a pair of her faded jeans and a classic t-shirt? It's a refreshing look from all the overly-made up women we watch, wearing their Jimmy Choos and frilly tops. When questioning a look, always go with what's laid-back and casual. I mean, come on, you're a 20-something, not some pampered housewife on her way to a charity auction. Dress for what you're going to be doing, which is most likely watching TV.
Don't Quit Something You Love
There are few times we see Fiona enjoying anything that is solely for her own benefit. She may just be the most selfless character on television. For Fiona Gallagher, running is the only thing that brings some peace to her life and she doesn't easily give it up.... even when she's worked two jobs and spent the day digging up her dead aunt's body in the backyard.
Pay Your Debts
You can never cross back over a bridge burned. You are too young to start collecting enemies and way too young to be in debt. The world is small; you know that Fiona was only able to give promoting at the club another go because she kept in good standing with her boss. She gained back her trust to earn the chance to try something she thought she might be good at. It's important that you keep your debts to a minimum and continue to gain, and maintain, good connections.
Photo credit: Shameless/Showtime