Showrunner John Wells says that the writers had to adapt to COVID-19 by scrapping scenes with large gatherings and by focusing on the core characters instead of flying in guest actors like Elizabeth Rodriguez. "We were three days away from shooting when everything went to hell in March. We rewrote the entire season over Zoom," says Wells. "To be honest, I haven't written the finale yet because we have been adjusting the show as we go along to events on the ground because we thought it was important that Shameless deal with the issues of the pandemic and the economic and health consequences for a community like Shameless takes place in. We rewrote all of the first six or seven episodes, all of which were already written. We try and make it as specific to the time when we're shooting it, even though we know we are going to be a couple of months off. But the impacts on all of us — particularly on working-class and poor communities — have been significant and we're trying to deal with those issues in a satirical way but also taking an honest, dry-eyed look at what has actually happened to these communities and specifically to our characters."
John Wells emphasizes that Shameless will also focus on the aftermath of George Floyd's death: "Yes. It’s a central issue and a central issue in communities like where we are on the South Side of Chicago," he says. "Nationally, it’s an essential conversation, and particularly important to deal with in communities like the South Side. So, yeah, absolutely, it continues to come up and it’s part of what is happening with Liam and Veronica. We just touched on Liam, but I wanted to run through all of the main characters and see if you could give me a bit of what to expect for each of them? Sound good?"
Shameless' final season had to incorporate digital effects because it couldn't shoot in Chicago: All filming was restricted to Los Angeles. So the Chicago scenes that were previously on locations had to be re-created using a Warner Bros. parking lot and digital effects. “It’s a real shame because we love going Chicago — love the city and the people, the crews that we use there," says Wells. "But it just didn’t really seem possible to transport the whole company there in the midst of this."
Are there an anti-maskers this season?: "Oh, yeah! Frank, by definition, sees himself as a libertarian," says Wells. "So he thinks the whole thing’s a little bit of a plot. You never know with Frank whether he means it or whether he’s just trying to get a rise out of you. It’s [about] hard times and people trying to find a way to navigate through those hard times and not lose their sense of humor and their humanity and the way in which they look out for each other."