Why ‘Shameless’ is a Must Binge Series

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William H. Macy

As October 2 approaches and season 7 of Showtime’s hit series Shameless bares down on us like Frank Gallagher’s jaundiced existence, it’s the perfect time catch up with America’s favorite fucked up family unit, the Gallaghers. As if the cast from Fuller House started taking meth full-time, the Gallagher family combines absolute mayhem with good ol’ fashion insanity. Now streaming on Netflix are the first 6 seasons of the British reboot that follows the life and times of The Gallagher’s, a strong family unit that just can’t get out of their own way.

At the head of the circus is Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) Father of 6, an alcoholic narcissist with anti-social behavior and the blood of Satan running through his veins. A pure embodiment of entitlement, oblivious to responsibility, decency, or humility, he careens through life taking what he can, jostling anyone in his path, and destroying the hopes of all who come close to him. Venomous in spirit and malevolent in action, he knows no boundaries. Intelligent and crafty, his anti-establishment beliefs coupled by his raging alcoholism puts him in precarious positions by the minute, and sometimes can make him an affable personality, but it quickly dissipates. We want Frank to show a shred of decency, to crack through the veil of mediocrity, but he doesn’t. He’s belligerent in his destruction of mankind. A missile of despair, heading toward, well, everyone. Macy is masterful in his characterization of Gallagher. We love to hate him, and wish the worst for him. But don’t worry, no one hates Frank Gallagher more than Frank Gallagher does.

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Emmy Rossum

Fiona Gallagher (Emmy Rossum) is the oldest Gallagher and is tasked with carrying the load her deadbeat libertarian father graced her with. Under the roof are her siblings Lip (Jeremey Allen White), Ian (Cameron Monaghan), Carl (Ethan Cutkosky), Debbie (Emma Kenney), and baby Liam. The controlled chaos that is Fiona’s life earns her major credits as she begs, borrows, and steals to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. Although oppressed by her situation, she takes it in stride, until she doesn’t, and then the wheels fall off. Fiona is a master of the hustle, her nose is clean for the most part, other than her horrific choice in mating partners. Breaking the Guinness world record for daddy issues, she bounces around looking for something that makes sense with a male counterpart, but all it does is unravel her world more and more. We soon find out, being a screw up is simply a Gallagher specialty.

As the two juggernauts of the family fight for independence and relevance, there’s a cornucopia of sub plots bubbling beneath the surface that make Shameless a 10/10. The sheer magnificence of the anarchy is mystifying. Each story is intertwined and exhausting. And all we wonder is will someone make a good decision at some point in this damn family? For the most part, the answer is no…no they won’t. And that’s the tragic beauty of Shameless. The elegance in which they accept their despair is biblical. They simply don’t give up, and even when they do, they take everyone down with them. They’re the proverbial sinking ship, the car crash we cannot look away from. Shameless feeds our overtly voyeuristic nature and makes us feel like we have it a bit better than the Gallaghers do, even though we can all relate to them in some way.

But before you click play, keep in mind that the producer unlocked the sex cheat code for the show, and there are loads of nudity and sexual situations. By the end of season 6, I was perfectly comfortable with seeing Emmy Rossum’s lady bits, just from sheer overexposure. I was tapped out, but wait! The inappropriateness doesn’t stop there. The show doesn’t shy away from completely desensitizing its audience, so If you like nakedness and sexytime in every imaginable scenario, the show will most likely give you at least one nightmare during your binge.

Overall, Shameless is a pure symphony of chaos, and very easy to digest, even with the surly nature of the subject matter. Nothing is off-limits, and it will break every misconception you have about what’s appropriate for television. I highly recommend clicking play on your Netflix browser.

 

 

 

 

Netflix Gets It Very Right with New “Daredevil” Series

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Neflix has been on a tear over the past few years with their coveted original series. They’ve began to lap their competition with shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Bloodline, and Hemlock Grove. Now with their recent adaptation of Marvel’s “Daredevil”, they’ve opened up a whole new potential subscriber base, as comic book junkies used to the grit of comic books will get a real-world experience with this production.

“Daredevil” follows Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), who is blinded as a child by a chemical spill while he saved the life of an elderly man. After the accident, Murdock begins to experience heightened senses, and as he learns how to develop them, courtesy of an ornery old man named stick (Scott Glenn), he takes it upon himself to clean up the city (Hell’s Kitchen, New York) that he loves so much.

Murdock, the son of boxer, seems vindicated in having the ever-loving shit kicked out of him on occasion, but in all of his blood and agony, he continues on his journey to redemption. Murdock never kills, upholding a strict code of rules, but not everyone is not so keen on following them, making Murdock’s plight that much more difficult.

At the root of his discontent, sits Wilson Fisk, better known as Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio), a ruthless crime lord that will stop at nothing to eliminate anyone that cocks up his plans for world domination.

As Fisk and Murdock jockey for positioning in Hell’s Kitchen, the body count continues to rise, and Murdock realizes that the only way to eliminate the death and destruction is to eliminate Fisk. But, can he do it? And so ensues the great struggle between good and evil.

Charlie Cox, as Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, nails the haunted and pensive nature Murdock. Vincent D’Onofrio will make you shat your drawers with his spot on portrayal of Kingpin. The internal struggle he faces minute by minute is palpable.

Deborah Ann Woll ,as Karen Page, is wonderful. You can’t help but to fall for the red-headed super sleuth as she trudges along and continues to gain strength after she’s been irrevocably tainted at the hands of Fisk’s henchmen. Along her search for the truth, she walks down the darkest of paths, and will ultimately hold a menacing secret close to her heart.

Elden Henson is the adorkable right hand man/best friend/business partner of Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson. Henson nails the awkwardness of Foggy with laser precision. Loyal and loathing of Murdock’s situation, Foggy continues to show resolve in the face of adversity. He’s the most sensitive out of the crew, but a soldier nonetheless.

The teams at Marvel and Netflix have created a new formula for greatness in this series. It’s a must watch for any marvel fan, and is crafted to perfection. Hopefully this will lead to future stand alone series in the Marvel universe. The two companies clearly have the horsepower to make it happen, and the possibilities are endless.

Be on the lookout for season 2 of “Daredevil”, coming in 2016.

 

“Bloodline” Shows True Turmoil and Outright Evil.

o-BLOODLINE-facebookI recently completed a binge of the new Netflix series, “Bloodline”, a story that delves deep into the Florida swamps to dissect the evil lurking beneath the fabric of an All-American family unit. The family in question, The Rayburns, an institution of entrepreneurial relevance and community involvement. Momma and Poppa Rayburn, played by Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard, founded the Rayburn House, a resort with accompanying ocean tours, ages ago, and now the family reaps the spoils of their hard work and dedication.

The couple’s four siblings all went off in their own directions, but stayed close to the family business. The star of the series, John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler), is the police chief, and tortured soul struggling to make things right with everyone. Meg Rayburn (Linda Cardellini) is a hot-shot lawyer with an itch for the city life and random sexual encounters. Kevin Rayburn (Norbert Leo Butz) owns the town’s struggling dock and boating repair business. He’s a hot head, and it shows frequently. And then there’s the ultimate X-Factor, Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn), the oldest of the clan… A grifter that left town, and remained in trouble through most of his adult life. The consummate black cloud of the Rayburns has returned, and no one is happy about it, except Danny.

The story of Bloodline revolves around Danny’s return home in order to help out with the family business. Although he claims pure intentions, he begins hanging out with old friends, and slips back into his old ways. Danny’s wayward antics draw the suspicions of his siblings as he leaves a trail of death and destruction in his wake.

The overall story of Bloodline is gripping and nerve-wracking at the same time. Give yourself 2-3 episodes to fully grasp the plot and intentions of the show. It’s slow-paced, but with good reason, it’s a chess match between Danny and the rest of the world. His reckless behavior and generally malevolent intentions made me nervous during the entire season. Mendelsohn does a crafty job of displaying the truly sociopathic nature of Danny, and his desire to destroy everything his family holds dear.

Bloodlines is intimately intriguing, but a bit of a downer. There’s not much light at the end of this tunnel for the Rayburns, so don’t expect to be inspired or enthralled with hope. This show is about the essence of human depravity, anguish, pain, lust, deceit, and betrayal. And those are the high points. As I mentioned before, the pacing of the show is slow, so if you’re looking for something with explosions and a “Dawson’s Creek” soundtrack , this isn’t it.

The suspense really hits home on the last 3-4 episodes, with the finale twisting the knife for the ultimate in painstaking viewing pleasure. If you’re looking for something with dark and sinister undertones that basically makes you feel weird inside, “Bloodline” is it.