'Shameless' may never recover from its Emmy loss, but here are 7 reasons why Rossum was too good for the Showtime show
Emmy Rossum wrote in a long, heartfelt Facebook post that she's officially quitting the show after nine long seasons and to be honest - it has been devastating to say the least.
For 'Shameless' fans all over the planet, it was a fine morning in August until a few hours ago. All of us were basking in the anticipation of the upcoming ninth season. We were excited about being reunited with our favorite, messy, and dysfunctional family on screen - The Gallaghers. We were just going about our day wondering what insanity the bunch is up to, and how exactly the eldest Gallagher sibling, Fiona, is going to manage and clean up their mess this time - but all of that was snubbed, abruptly too, with the announcement of their no longer being a Fiona post season 9 anymore. Emmy Rossum, who's the face behind the character, wrote in a long, heartfelt Facebook post that she's officially quitting the show after nine long seasons and to be honest - it has been devastating, to say the least.
See, what you must know about Fiona Gallagher is that she's that elder sibling slash mother figure role who exudes comfort, even though she's a hot mess. One look at Fiona - and if you're anything like me - you just know she's got your back. Sadly, however, the entertainment industry didn't seem too keen on having her back. Why? Because they robbed her of the recognition she has rightfully earned after giving her blood, sweat, and soul to the Showtime dramedy for almost a decade.
Fiona Gallagher is a multifaceted character; there are so many sides, so many emotions and of course, so many layers to her that she laughs in the face of misery, asks her pain to buckle up, and acts upon her better judgments with such driven conviction that it's hard to not idolize her. Fiona Gallagher is the eldest child in the family of six children, with a deadbeat, alcoholic jerk for a father, and a dead mother, who abandoned them when she was nine. She started raising her siblings from the age of six, and that's not all she did.
From taking care of her drunk father to working three jobs at a time - there's no dearth to the lengths she has gone for her family. And there surely is no dearth to what Emmy Rossum can do when it comes to playing this flawed yet inspiring character to impeccable perfection. You see, Fiona is not an idealistic character. She might work three jobs and struggle 24/7 to make ends meet and provide for her siblings, but she also gets into casual relationships based on sex, drugs, and alcohol. From her siblings getting placed in foster care to going to jail after her baby brother almost dying of snorting the cocaine that she had mistakenly left lying around - her share of screw-ups is a fair load too. And Emmy gets that - she did when she acted the part and she also did when she was on the director's seat.
The way she's crafted, molded and portrayed the character with a fresh new signature style every single season is what helped make Fiona such an easy matriarchal figure to relate to. Over the years, her character became the crux on which the show survived. And by the end of the third season, it had been established that even though William H. Macy (who plays the role of Frank Gallagher - the deadbeat patriarch) was the "star" among the main cast, it was really Emmy Rossum who bound it all together and brought the Gallaghers together as a whole. It's a symbiotic relationship between the three - Shameless isn't anything without Fiona, and Fiona wouldn't be Fiona without Emmy. At the same time, the show has been 90% of her career and provided her with a firm standing.
So why the quitting? Emmy herself considers this shift as moving ahead in life, but honestly, we can't help but rewind to 2016 when she had spoken up about the pay disparity on the show, between Macy and herself. "When the show started, Bill was one of the first people attached. I was the last piece in the puzzle and I'd never done TV before, and I obviously wasn't as well known, while Bill is an Oscar nominee. So for the first few seasons, a difference made a lot of sense," she had said at a Vulture festival panel. "As the time went on, the leadership role started to feel somewhat more shared," explaining that both she and Macy had directed on the show. "I felt that I loved the show, that I loved everyone in it, but I just wanted it to feel right," she said.
But she came back for two more seasons. And now - with just one more reason of Emmy to look forward to - it's hard to forget that this is the same woman who directed an episode of 'Shameless', wearing nothing but a towel. It sounds funny, but that's the struggle she is ready to endure just to be taken seriously at whatever she does. Yet - after one stellar performance filled season after the other - Emmy stands here without any recognition for her sharp, brilliant work. She accepts it with grace, as she shared with Forbes: "I don’t hold my breath for those things because I would probably expire. It would be nice but just the fact that I get to do this kind of work and people give a hoot, that feels good." But we are definitely having a lot harder time believing that this woman - who completely changed the dynamics of a strong female lead in the contemporary world, and laminated scripts, drew sets and used Lego pieces as her directorial approach on set - is quitting without receiving the share of nominations and recognition she deserves.
And mind you, she has undergone some pretty dark stuff filming certain scenes in Fiona's occasionally immoral shoes. Like the time she had to strip butt-naked for Fiona getting searched in prison, this is what she had to tell Forbes: "You’re presented with that kind of material and you know you sink or swim. And sinking really isn’t an option when you’re an actor given such great material. And to swim, the current is heavy. It’s difficult to go to dark places. The hardest thing that I’ve ever done--Ever. On anything--was that strip search scene. Because of the way they shot it I was completely naked and it wasn’t like the frivolous silly nudity we do on our show sometimes. The sexy stuff. It was really immensely vulnerable and emotional and scary. I kept thinking “God, I hope this scene is worth it. Because I’m losing a piece of myself. This is really hard.’ And I guess it is. I was such a wreck at the end of the day I had to get transport to drive me home and leave my car athe t set. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t function."
So let it go down in history that Emmy Rossum did THAT for a show that didn't even push her for nominations during award season, not even 10% of how hard they worked for Macy's role. “In TV, especially in a show that's this late in the game, a lot of directors don't even give us much direction,” Rossum shared with The Hollywood Reporter about her directing experience. “I feel like the reason that it went well [for me] is because I, on a cellular level, really understand what the show is about, what it's saying, who these people are, what their relationships are like and what the world looks like and feels like.”
So, without further ado, let's go through a round up of the best scenes from a show that came out as great as it did, all because of a force called Emmy Rossum.
1. "You were my mother too."
Within seconds, Emmy goes from aggressive to heartbroken - from protective to just a lost child reminding her mother of all the unfairness she put her through. Granted, the script was written extremely well for this scene, but it's the artistic nuance with the way Emmy brings out those conflicting emotions within the span of minutes that leaves viewers speechless.
2. "I've done what I could to help raise my siblings. I wish I could've done more."
This clip pretty much reveals why Fiona is the way she is. Guarded, yet vulnerable. Aggressive, but protective. And so much more. She describes her evolution from being a six-year-old to suddenly acting as the decision maker for her siblings - that happened within a matter of hours. It was one incident in her life that changed her from a child to a caregiver, and it took Emmy one seen to show why she's beyond just capable to portray the character in all its murky glory.
3. The moments following her mother's suicide attempt.
It's easy for an actor of a great caliber to deliver a scene with a grand gesture; it takes a lot more to turn moments and scenes as little as this one into that of a much greater significance and Emmy shows her expertise at that, crafted to perfection. The entire family comes back from the hospital and Fiona comes across her mother's blood all over the floor. Poor thing doesn't get the time to even break down properly because she is the lifeline the rest of the family is counting on. So even as Emmy can be seen taking charge and getting down to clean up the mess, there's a soft vulnerability in her portrayal of Fiona, the tough girl. She made the strong-willed girl in her 20s a lot more relatable.
4. She finds out about her father calling the DFS to take her siblings away.
It's the slight nuances in the way her expressions change throughout the call that make it such a refreshing scene to watch over and over again. Everybody hates Frank, what's new about that. But in this scene, her spite, venom, and absolute disgust for the man can be seen with just the way her face scrunches up, eyes glisten and lips quiver. Emmy shares a monologue worth of ranting with just her expressions and that's remarkable.
5. "I'm glad she's dead."
Fiona's most intense moments come out when she's in a tiff with her parents. And even though she spills how she's glad that her good for nothing mother who cared only about herself and her drugs is dead, Emmy's portrayal just makes you want to hug her and let her cry it out. Her words are sharp, but the pain she feels is sharper and that couldn't have been showcased if it wasn't for Emmy. It's the way she delivers the dialogues that really makes one agree that yes, just because Monica (Fiona's mother) is dead, doesn't erase her wrongdoings. It does not mean Fiona is obligated to mourn the loss and grieve and glorify Monica's abandonment.
6. "Get out of my bed, mom."
By now it's pretty clear that 90 percent of the hardships in her Fiona's life is due to her parents. But what becomes clearer is that nobody understands Fiona Gallagher better than Emmy Rossum herself. When she says she thought it would be different this time, viewers get to see the hopeful child - who was clinging on to the last ray desperately - break, as do her hopes and dreams of having a mother in her life. And when Fiona yells at her mother to get out of her bed, Emmy screams out in words unspoken that Fiona doesn't deserve any of this at all. But soon comes back the calm and collected composure, setting things around the house. And it is this range of body languag Emmy exhibits that went unrecognized over nine full seasons. Seriously!?
7. Fiona and Lip.
Personally, this was the hardest to watch. Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is Fiona's rock, as followers of the show would know. Being the second child, he has been her ride-or-die for the longest time. To see him losing his faith in Fiona, was presumably just as hard to act out for Emmy because if you notice closely - she's not even acting here anymore. It's like her and Jeremy have transcended into their roles so snugly that they are having an off the record, off the set discourse, defending each other's characters. And that's what makes the both of them so brilliant at what they do. But this is Emmy, raw and unplugged in every scene.
Honestly, there's so much more to discuss and debate over, and point out as Emmy Rossum's best performances on Shameless. Be it the time when she broke down after her father ruined her own wedding or the time she almost ran away with Jimmy/Steve - the man who could or could not have been the love of her life. Fiona's plot has no gradual highs or lows, it radical and unexpected and almost like a cold blizzard. But Emmy Rossum's face, her expressions, her body language and her portrayal was such a blanket of warmth that she made this dysfunctional, piece of crap life seem relatable, and raised Fiona Gallagher to be a goddess everybody could adore.
So a heartfelt thank you to you, Emmy. You deserve every recognition under the sun and it's no less of a shame that the industry couldn't realize it earlier.