“Be a Good Boy. Come for Grandma” is basically Shameless making an attempt at righting the wrongs of some of its characters, while staying true to the elements that have made the series successful.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers
The major focus point of this episode was also the most crucial character arc of the season so far: Carl’s appropriation of black culture and becoming a drug dealer. Carl has always been a mischievous and problematic kid, so seeing him go to juvie at the end of last season wasn’t really very surprising. It wasn’t also that shocking to see him working as a drug dealer, which is not to say that it wasn’t alarming. The series jumped the shark pretty soon with the “white guy playing black” card and we were just waiting for the moment when Carl would realize that what he was doing wasn’t only wrong, but also very dangerous. In fact, Nick killing the kid who (presumably) stole his bike was probably the most shocking moment of the entire season and it helped Carl see that he couldn’t keep going down that road.
Someone who played a key role in all this was Sean. Fiona’s boyfriends have always been valued in regards to whether or not they can accept her messed up family. Sean proved that he was understanding of her situation and actually took an active role in helping Carl. Meanwhile, Fiona was kept in the shadows because Carl didn’t want her to freak out, but it’s still ironic how Fiona has been the most distant to her siblings ever since she became their legal guardian. I’m also glad that Shameless decided to include the fact that Carl couldn’t just leave a gang that easily and, far from being treated as comedic, we got to see Carl struggle and worry about leaving the gang. In fact, this episode brings out the very best of Ethan Cutkosky, who was able to quit his tough guy attitude for a while to show a more frightened, vulnerable side to the character. Along with Fiona, they shared one of the sweetest moments of this season when they hugged and when Fiona unbraided his hair. Honestly, I was so happy with everything that was going on with Carl that I found it hard to care about Frank’s shenanigans.
Another character that I’m glad to see going on the right path is Ian, who did not only get the approval of Caleb’s friends, but also finally revealed to his new boyfriend that he is bipolar. At the same time, Caleb told him that he’s HIV positive. I guessed that Shameless had to use the HIV card in a gay storyline at some point, but, to be honest, I didn’t expect it to come from Caleb. Ian really should get tested (hell, all the family should), but let’s not forget that Ian has always been quite promiscuous and he even did a porno without protection. At this point, Ian having HIV makes much more sense than Caleb getting it in college. Ian is studying to become an EMT, wants to do normal stuff and claims to having a purpose and not having felt so happy in a long time. After all the things he has gone through, I can’t help but feel happy for him. However, I wonder just how much of this arc are we supposed to believe. Let’s be honest, nothing good ever lasts for the Gallaghers.
And now for the ones who seem to be going around in circles: Lip and Debbie. And I say ‘seem’ because I’m not really sure of what the writers plan to do with them anymore. Debbie’s story in this episode was uninspired and irrelevant. You could see from a mile away that Larry was a creep or into some sort of pregnancy fetish. We are past the point of anyone convincing Debbie to have an abortion and I keep trying to figure out how they are going to handle another baby in the family considering Fiona is not going to help her (or so she says). On the other hand, there’s Lip, who is finally moving on from Helene. This should be a positive thing, if it wasn’t for the fact that love and sex are the only thing in his mind. Sure, sex is often a big part of the whole college experience, but it would be nice if Lip’s storyline went back to him studying or becoming a teacher. Even the suggestion that he had to tone down his drinking was a nice attempt at adding some realism to the alcoholism of this family, but it all seemed to go down the drain after Lip regained his libido and went back to having sex with random sorority girls.
Putting aside the Milkovich’s absence, “Be a Good Boy. Come for Grandma” is pure Shameless, from the title of the episode to little details like Carl hiding guns or Lip getting a peculiar foot rub from Queenie. Season 6 hasn’t had a big impactful episode like Season 4 and 5 had yet, and now that Carl’s storyline seems to be over, it’s time to look out for what the series could have in store for the remaining episodes of the season.