“Shameless” has plumbed the depths of suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, and a slew of other boundary-pushing topics. Now the Showtime dramedy is going darker with a storyline about euthanasia.
“I’m very proud of it,” series executive producer John Wells revealed during a TCA panel for the series in Pasadena on Thursday. “It’s appalling and funny and painfully real.”
Wells said the episode, which airs in the middle of the show’s current second season, involves Joan Cusack’s character Sheila and Grammy, played by Louise Fletcher. “It’s one of my favorite moments of the season,” Wells said. “It’s talking about something that we’re all uncomfortable about – [where] the person who’s alive doesn’t really want to be alive anymore, and you have no idea what to do about it. They’re ready to give up. It’s too painful. They’re tired. There isn’t really a mechanism for dealing with that. People get very uncomfortable about it, and Joan Cusack’s character makes a choice about helping her which gets remarkably funny, and you just can’t believe you’re laughing at it.”
For Wells, finding humor in emotionally wrenching situations is a hallmark of the show, which centers around the dysfuntionally functional Gallagher family.
But is there a line Wells won’t cross? “I don’t want to do anything that damages the character,” he said, noting that he, his writers and Showtime boss David Nevins have extensive conversations about what constitutes going too far. “We look for moments where we illuminate a character, satirize something rather than just do a joke for the laugh.”
The euthanasia storyline accomplishes just that. “That’s what we’re looking for,” he said. “Those moments that we make fun of, and yet there’s sort of a pit in your stomach where you go, ‘Ooh, there’s something true about this that’s making me uncomfortable.’ And that’s when you know you’ve actually kind of lit on it.”
Other Tidbits to Look Forward to in Season 2:
+ Steve fans, rejoice. Justin Chatwin will be back for a cameo in episode 3 and will fully return in episode 5. Noted Emmy Rossum, “He’s made some pretty big life changes that make them [Fiona and Steve] jumping back into a relationship very different.”
+ Fiona has “lost her moral compass a little bit, which was really fun for me,” Rossum said. But her day of reckoning will come. “In the 4th episode she gets some comeuppance for misbehaving and it kind of sets her straight a little bit,” she said.
+ Lip will unintentionally turn into Frank. “He tries to push away from being like Frank and then does the opposite,” star Jeremy Allen White said.
+ Ian, played by actor Cameron Monaghan, will have an intense love scene with another man at the end of the season. In Season 1, legal restrictions due to Monaghan’s age prevented the show from exploring Ian’s sexuality as much as Wells wanted. Now that Monaghan has turned eighteen, those limits are gone. Wells praised Monaghan, who is not gay, for being “brave” about the upcoming scene. “He has completely embraced the idea of this character and it is becoming something that is important for gay teenagers,” Wells said.
Watch The Season 2 Premiere Of “Shameless”: