'Shameless' Season 11 Episode 2 Review: Did Frank find his purpose? Fight against gentrification sees a twist
After over a decade, the degenerate Gallagher patriarch finally seems to have found both retribution and purpose in his own vulturous terms of course
Spoilers for 'Shameless' Season 11 Episode 2 'Go Home, Gentrifier!'
Frank Gallagher (William H Macy) has finally found his purpose and all it took was 11 years, give or take a few. The degenerate, narcissistic patriarch of the southside Gallaghers might be a lot of things but it brings to mind that famous proclamation of Frank's he had made all the way back in Season 7 when he said he's got the spirit of a cockroach, cannot be crushed. But as Frank fights the good fight against gentrification, somewhere along the line, his own unconsciously walk the fine line between wanting better things in life and gentrifying the very community they have grown to be lifers in.
Over the years, every season of 'Shameless' has constantly paralleled how Frank's six progenies, no matter how desperately they try not to, end up acting like their good-for-nothing selfish father. And funnily enough, sometimes, in their own struggle to not end up like him, they come up with something so hilariously opposite of what they wanted, it's hard to tell whether all of this was just an ironic middle finger from fate itself.
To begin with, it's Frank's episode y'all. Things take a turn for the beaten but undefeated Gallagher when his neighbors and good friends of his children Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) run out of legal weed for their new edible enterprise. With the pandemic comes panic to self-medicate and a lot of people are buying medicinal marijuana in bulk to calm the nerves, leaving none for Kev and V to work with. But of course Frank is there to save the day. Although hesitant at first, the Balls know better than to doubt Frank's resources as a drug connoisseur, whatever the product might be. And sure enough, the moment he takes them down to the shady part of town where transactions of the down-low go on (a very renovated, mural-esque Patsy's Pies!) they witness Frank in all his glory, naming every drug peddler and their poison, and making the perfect score for them without the slightest twitch in his system.
Frank goes beyond just scoring weed for the Balls, as he teaches them his own special recipe for pot walnut brownies. The key is frying the weed in butter before mixing it to the brownie mix he says and they soon find out just why he's pricing them at 20 bucks a brownie. The local college kids eat that s**t up too, as they frequent The Alibi looking for what is now the 'Marijuana Magician' with his stack of edibles ranked in order of THC and CBD in them.
Frank not only aces at scoring and cooking the edibles, but is also a walking pamphlet of all marijuana-related queries from fellow connoisseurs, soon reducing Kev and V to nothing but retail. He demands a cut higher than the three-way partnership he had initially asked for, considering how he's doing more than just scoring the produce for them. And it's stupid that Kev and V would try to go behind his back and buy out the marijuana themselves because guess what, Frank knows this game and plays it better than anybody around him. He uses the money they earned their first day selling Frank's brownies to buy out all the weed from the designated peddler and demand a 70/30 cut in the end.
But while this story flourishes so effortlessly, there's a constant struggle with this ongoing season of 'Shameless' from not turning into a stereotypical sitcom at this point. These episodes, with the Gallaghers struggling in their own respective ends, do not come together or boil down to a solid conclusion the way it used to when Fiona (Emmy Rossum) was around. It really makes one recall how she was the glue that held the family together after all, but hey, life goes on and so does 'Shameless'.
After 11 years of absolute batshit craziness, there's only so much they can come up with that hasn't been done anymore. Debbie's (Emma Kenney) wearing an ankle monitor like Fiona, Carl's (Ethan Cutkosky) running around trying to kick ass like Ian (Cameron Monaghan) once was, and Liam (Christian Isaiah) is exploiting a peanut butter sandwich business for kids in lunch debt at school, only oddly reminiscent of Carl selling guns for everybody who wanted one back when he lived the 'brother' life in Season 6. Even for an episode centered around Franny's big fifth birthday, it all turns into what Debbie wanted as a party growing up and not so much as her daughter's.
Ian and Mickey (Noel Fisher) are one fight away from punching the guts out of each other as Mickey takes time off from masturbating to scenes of 'Riverdale' to get any job that's not an honest day's work. Ian refuses to have sex with him as he himself learns the harsh ways of making minimum wage, while Lip (Jeremy Allen White) sees a whole new enemy in his house situation. In one of the promos leading up to this season, Lip was seen spray painting the title of this episode on the wall of a Southside house. Ironically enough, that's how his good neighbors feel about him renovating the beaten-down property he now rents in the neighborhood.
In his own quest to protect the Southside from becoming too fancy with artisans and hipsters, Lip can't see that sprucing up the house is exactly the kind of thing that contributes to the gentrification. So once he plants a few shrubs on the garden outside the patio, or installs new shiny window panes, his neighbors start flinging bricks and dumping trash to make the property look bad so tax prices won't go up. The activist becomes the gentrifier as his degenerate father finally finds a purpose, say what you might about 'Shameless' but you have to agree it's full of surprises. We also can't help but speculate that Lip spray paints his own house as we see in the promo to keep the vandals at bay. Can't run what's already semi-decent right? The sheer genius.
'Shameless' Season 11 airs on Sundays at 9 pm only on Showtime, with new episodes dropping early on the Showtime app.