The hit Showtime series' series finale Sunday wrapping up 11 seasons "embodies all of the problems—the lack of history, the inconsistent tones, Debbie being terrible—that plagued the show in the last half of its run, a microcosm of the 'sitcom' John Wells was dead set on making all along," says Myles McNutt. "It demonstrates no awareness of these problems, but rather embraces them as apparent strengths, and acts as though the audience is so invested in this world and its characters that it requires no closure or character development to bring this decade-long relationship to a close." McNutt adds: "In his dementia-riddled state, Frank is the embodiment of Shameless: constantly forgetting what’s happened in the past, incapable of coherently explaining his present, and unable to grasp social cues that he’s overstayed his welcome in our space. And we, the audience, are the rest of the Gallaghers: we know deep down that we should care about a show we’ve been watching for a decade ending, but we can’t seem to muster that emotion given the state of the show’s storytelling, and our instinct is to just go about our day. But by the time I reached the end of 'Father Frank, Full Of Grace,' I realized that I was misreading the metaphor. Sure, it’s safe to say that the remaining audience for Shameless carries a significant amount of ambivalence toward this show after it fell off a cliff creatively in recent years, but the show’s fans are passionate about that ambivalence. While not all viewers embody the extremes of love and hate embodied by the Gallavich fans, the soap opera DNA of the show is built to invest us in these characters even as the sitcom antics of more recent seasons pushed us away. Without suggesting I am representative of the average viewer of the show, I watched this finale with all the tension of desperately wanting the show to tap into what it once was, co-existing with my building frustration with the show it has become. It’s an emotional cocktail none of the show’s characters embody in that opening scene. When the credits rolled on Shameless’ final moments, though, I realized that in this metaphor the Gallagher children aren’t the audience: they’re the writers. Because in the end, the failures of this series finale stem from the fact that when Shameless reached its final breath, it was John Wells and the rest of the writers room who seemingly couldn’t make up their minds if they were invested in the show coming to an end. It was ultimately the writers who, faced with the task of bringing 11 seasons of television to a close, delivered a series finale that doesn’t just poorly memorialize the show it once was, but even manages to dismiss the gestures to closure they developed in this final season."
TOPICS: Shameless, Showtime, Emma Kenney, Emmy Rossum, John Wells, William H. Macy, Series Finales