All good things must come to an end. Having the highly dysfunctional Gallagher family for ten whole seasons has been consistently refreshing and reliably raunchy — entertainment in its most unapologetic form. At its core, Shameless is a show about survival and redemption and how the two go hand-in-hand. To weather the cards the Gallagher kids were dealt, all have made morally dubious choices. They’ve irreparably hurt others in the process of hurting themselves, and mismanaged their collective potential with cringe-worthy self-sabotage. And that's what keeps us coming back every season.
But it’s the end of an era. In a synopsis for season 11, we gather that drunken matriarch Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) is “facing his mortality.” Although we’ve been down this road before (Frank nearly dies from cirrhosis before miraculously getting a liver transplant in Season 4), it seems probable that Frank’s life-long debauchery will finally catch up to him. Plus, the overarching theme of season 11 is that the Gallagher kids realize they’re the next generation to lead the way.
Debbie (Emma Kenney) is a mom to Franny, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) and Tami (Kate Miner) have baby Freddy together, and Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey (Noel Fisher) are married. Even the key players who aren’t old enough to start thinking about a family are making bold moves this season: Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) goes into law enforcement, it’s made clear that Liam (Christian Isaiah) is incredibly intelligent and has potential to become whatever he wants to be, and Fiona (Emmy Rossum)? Moving out of Chicago is the best thing could have done for herself.
Aside from the Gallaghers, we’ve got Veronica (Shanola Hampton) and Kevin (Steve Howey), who’ve somewhat successfully redefined what happiness means in a long-term relationship. Now, they’re running a lucrative weed business (recreational pot became legal in Illinois January 2020, so the timeline adds up) and planning a wedding.
While the gentrification of South-Side Chicago has been an ongoing theme in the latter seasons of Shameless, it sounds like season 11 will tackle it in ways it never has before, with Gallaghers & co. enjoying the best (and worst) of the neighborhood as they know it before it’s gone for good.
Before you tune in to the season 11 premiere on Showtime, here’s the 411 on who’s coming back for one last Gallagher bender.