Shameless: The Complete Second Season [Blu-Ray]

Shameless: The Complete Second Season [Blu-Ray]
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Early in the first season of Shameless, the American remake of the pitch-black British comedy of the same name, many sensationalistic tactics were used to attract viewers. Full-frontal male nudity and excessive breast shots drove most of the exaggerated, exceedingly trashy storylines forward, taking the late season Californication approach to attracting an audience. But as the show pressed on and the characters started to emerge with individual traits and motivations, a little heart started to show amongst the Gallagher clan, even in their perpetually drunk, psychotically opportunistic patriarch, Frank (William H. Macy). Oldest daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum) suffered the heartache of romantic loss when Steve (Justin Chatwin) left at the end of the first season, which is where the second, more grounded and complex season starts. Raising her five siblings, as well as her drunken father, she spends most of her time trying to make ends meet, when not tentatively stepping out into the dating world. Her best friend, Jasmine (Amy Smart), hooks her up with a couple of men, which leaves her even more conscious of her white trash roots and educational failings. As things progress, she eventually returns to high school to obtain her GED, in an effort to keep Lip (Jeremy Allen White) from dropping out in his senior year to take care of a very pregnant Karen (Laura Wiggins), adding a bit of optimism and hope to a show that dwells in the seedy sewers of the white trash margins. Frank continues to spend time with the agoraphobic Sheila (Joan Cusack), but, as per usual, finds himself engrossed in morally abject situations, pretending to have feelings for a woman with a heart condition, hoping to cash in on her insurance money. His life is further complicated when his mother (Louise Fletcher) gets out of jail, forcing him to bathe and powder under her breasts (to prevent chafing), when she's not teaching Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) how to make meth in the basement. And while these plot lines often go over the top — in one episode, Sheila smothers an elderly women by sitting on her face with a pillow — the writers are smart enough to inject adequate heart to keep things just shy of nasty and loathsome. As often as the Gallagher clan fights, commits crimes and has reckless sex with strangers (occasionally in convenience stores), they all care about each other, in a roundabout, dysfunctional manner. The biggest challenge of the season comes when Monica (Chloe Webb), the Gallagher matriarch, returns to the house, demonstrating manic behaviour and stealing money from her children, which leaves the family re-evaluating their connections and the nature of forgiveness. The box set includes a series of conversations between various actors, which dissect and extrapolate on their motivations — occasionally, quite humorously — as well as some supplemental material on playing drunk on camera and writing the U.S. version of the series. (Warner)