Only two episodes in, and Season 7 of Shameless is already much better than last season. ‘Swipe, Fuck, Leave’ is reminiscent of what made this show what it is: it’s ridiculous, entertaining, and… quite offensive.
Listen, Shameless has always been offensive and provocative. It’s in the title. The show has always been this way, and it’s always going to be. However, it’s one thing to be offensive for fun (
*cough* hairy balls *cough*), and it’s an entirely different thing to be straight-up problematic for no reason. I believe it’s OK for fiction to touch on sensitive topics like discrimination as long as it’s properly framed and they have a reason for being there.
Shameless has done this before through Mickey’s internalized homophobia. For the longest time, Mickey Milkovich had trouble coming to terms with his own sexuality and his feelings for Ian. After being educated by Ian, he started accepting himself and even gathered enough courage to tell his homophobic father to f*ck off in what’s one of the most iconic scenes in the series. The show featured a well-developed, non-stereotypical gay relationship with Gallavich, so we all thought Shameless was good in the queer department. But then Ian had to go and say that biphobic men don’t exist, or that his boyfriend sleeping with women is “a turn-off”.
Biphobia in the gay community is a real thing, sadly. Even shows that pride themselves in being LGBT-centric, like Queer as Folk, had some biphobic issues too. I’m not giving up on this one yet, though. Shameless could still save this by having Ian realize that men can be bisexual too, and that it’s OK to have a bisexual boyfriend. Since his relationship with Caleb is now over, it’s hard to imagine who could educate him on that, but like I said, I have my faith. Furthermore, Caleb brought up the fact that no one can be 100% gay (and that’s just his opinion), but seeing Lip and Ian talk about percentages was interesting, as it could lead to some good debate on the sexual orientation spectrum.
Overall, the biphobia was an ugly stain on what was otherwise a pretty good episode. Everything else about ‘Swipe, Fuck, Leave’ was great. Having all the family members under the same roof helps make the episodes feel much more cohesive and easy to follow. It’s certainly much better than constantly jumping from place to place, which is what happened for most of Season 6. In this case, pairing Lip with Ian and Fiona, or having Frank take Liam (he talks!) were really good choices. And while seeing Carl struggling with the stitches on his manhood was painfully funny, the most hilarious bit was Frank splitting the house in two and keeping the upstairs floor. It’s the kind of ridiculous, over-the-top things that you can only expect in this household, and it brought back many memories from the show’s earlier seasons.
The title of the episode is a reference to Kevin’s new business idea (one that doesn’t really amuse his wives), but it can also be related to Fiona’s new dating policy. One of her new hired employees (yes, she is now the boss and can be ruthless as she pleases) suggests that she joins Tinder, which would allow her to have sex with strangers and leave. I’m not sure I’m really trusting this idea since it’s pretty similar to what Fiona was already doing and it always led her to new relationships, but we will have to wait and see. Hopefully, Fiona taking control of the diner is a metaphor for her taking control of her own life and emotions too.
The only character that didn’t get much to do in this episode was Debbie, who is still running her stroller-stealing “business”. It seems pretty obvious that she’s going to get caught, and this time she’s not a little kid anymore. The Gallagher-being-sent-to-jail storyline has already been done so many times that it’s lost its effect at this point, so hopefully there’s something else in store for her. She did warn Liam not to get too attached to Frank in this episode, so helping her little brother out would certainly be a step in the right direction.