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Book Menage 2015

British Television: Shameless

So I know what you're thinking. CR's never seen a British TV series she didn't like, right?

Wrong. And it wouldn't be fair if I didn't talk about ALL British TV, even the shows I didn't much care for, right? So here we go.

I could never quite get into Paul Abbot's series "Shameless." And when I say "couldn't get into," what I mean is that I watched a couple of episodes, even though I wasn't really enjoying it, and then gave myself a firm talking-to about spending time I didn't really have on a TV series that made me, for lack of a better phrase, somewhat depressed deep down in my soul. So of course I had to watch a couple more episodes. But then I stopped. I read some more series' episode summaries at for closure, and called it a day.

The story is this: Six kids live with their drunken dad in a Manchester (northern England) housing project, basically raising themselves. The eldest, Fiona, looks after the others while her dad lurches from one drunken debauch to another; meantime, she falls in love with Steve. They spend the rest of the first season hanging out with the rest of the kids and their neighbors and doing what people in Manchester housing projects do, according to series creator Paul Abbott.

It hurt me not to like this one, frankly, because the first couple of seasons featured two of my favorite Brit/Scot actors: Anne-Marie McDuff and James McAvoy. Actually, I liked the whole cast, and the writing is snappy, and I loved the music, but the whole thing is just a bit too, um, too much for me. It's one thing to know what's all going on offscreen, but "Shameless" really shows a lot ON screen (just watch the first few minutes of the first episode if you wonder what I mean). And although the series as billed as an unconventional family "surviving by their wits--and humor," the idea of children raising children, drunk fathers, and urban poverty makes me too nervous to watch. I haven't actually thought about this one in a while, and was surprised to see that it's now gone 11 seasons, into 2013 (and it's also been remade for American television, starring William H. Macy as the drunk father).

So there. I have met some British television I couldn't watch!

Fun trivia: Anne-Marie Duff and James McAvoy met while filming this show, and are now married.