Eight years, nine seasons, and exactly 100 episodes later, fans of Showtime's Shameless are still rocking with the Gallagher family and their wild way of life on the Southside of Chicago. The show is honestly a little out of control hitting its three-digit episode mark. Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) is trying to become a literal killing machine to get ready for West Point. I hate how lazy the writers have gotten with V’s (Shanola Hampton) character. We get it, she and her husband Kev (Steve Howey) are good at kink and not so great at parenting. Teen mom Debbie (Emma Kenney) has broken up with her most interesting partner — a Black woman — after only a few days. Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is insufferable as she climbs the social mobility ladder and hooks up with an uninteresting Irishman. Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is a gay Jesus struggling with his faith. Lip (Jeremy Allen White), who is barely a year sober himself, thinks he’s ready to be a foster parent. He’s not. Poor Liam (Christian Isaiah) has been kicked out of his elite private school, thanks to his father’s philandering. And Frank (William H. Macy) — the failed patriarch of this clan and aforementioned philanderer — is now campaigning for a pedophile on a platform of white nationalism during the midterm elections. Shameless seems to have lost its grip on many different fronts, but Frank’s story line has taken it too far. It’s time for him to go, for good.
On his never-ending hunt for quick cash that he doesn’t actually have to work for, Frank has gotten wrapped up in politics. After finding that people of color are more sought after for campaign work, Frank drunkenly hops on his soapbox at his local dive bar with a rallying cry to “Make Chicago white again.” He even collects money to get Mo White (Dan Lauria), a former politician who was arrested for having an inappropriate relationship with a minor, back into Congress. In the 100th episode, “Do Right, Vote White!” his candidate was the unexpected victor.
There’s an easy solution to the ongoing Frank problem, though. He should die.
The main premise of Shameless is that Frank’s scrappiness knows no ethical or moral bounds. He will do and say anything to make a few bucks. It is not surprising that Frank is gassing up a pedophile (and his racist supporters) just one season after he was helping escort refugees to the Canadian border. This is the kind of behavior we’ve come to expect from him. But his foray into extremist politics isn’t as funny as the Shameless writers probably think it was for one reason: Frank is actually the embodiment of the same kind of white privilege that emboldens white nationalists.
Frank has been able to raise hell all over the city of Chicago without arrest or serious consequence precisely because he is white. Despite spending a lifetime scamming, stealing, and slothing his way around, Frank often manages to find himself catching lucky breaks that would have inevitably evaded a person of color. A hero for the homeless, general manager at a hardware store, campaign manager, and private school PTA dad are just a few of the hats Frank has been able to wear despite habitually breaking the law and avoiding responsibility by any means necessary. He skirts by authorities who see him as more of a nuisance than a threat, and his fraud plots work because people are more likely to trust a white man. His allegiance to Mo White’s cause is supposed to feel comically ironic — after all, Frank has a Black son and often hangs out with people of color — but it actually isn’t. He can and will benefit from a whiter Chicago. As far as I’m concerned, his new gig was a step too far in the wrong direction.
There’s an easy solution to the ongoing Frank problem, though. He should die. Shameless fans have been faced with the possibility of Frank’s death many times over. He experienced liver failure and had a kidney stolen before he received a transplant to save his life in season 4. He drank a beer to celebrate his second chance at life and hasn’t stopped since. At the end of season 6, his own children threw him into the Chicago River for ruining Fiona’s wedding, leaving him in a coma for a month. I can’t keep track of all the times he’s been nearly murdered for theft and robbery. The drug and alcohol abuse alone have kept one of his feet in a proverbial grave.
It’s time to see Frank’s demise through. His death would be great for the show overall. Imagine the Gallagher kids dealing with that fallout: inheriting Franks debts, grieving in their own messed up ways, and perhaps transforming their relationships with each other as they cope with having no living parents. Frank is no longer the unsung hero of Shameless. Planting himself on the wrong side of political history is just the final straw. He is a poor but privileged asshole, who makes life harder for himself because of his own laziness. So let’s put him out of his misery. Or at the very least, let’s put us — the viewers — out of our misery.