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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Shameless: Complete Season One (review)

Nothing on American TV could possibly prepare viewers for the earthy, frank rawness of this British series about a wild, reckless Manchester family and their sexcapades, antisocial antics, and general distracted anxiety over the just keeping their *bleep* together. But without the bleep. The shockiness of The Sopranos perhaps comes closest, but the unambiguous sense that that family is something of an aberration that strives to maintain a tenuous sense of normality is a stark contrast to the Gallaghers, whose collective life grasps to a petty criminality in a way that suggests that their not-so-quiet desperation is the lot of most working-class urbanites. For instance: Twenty-year-old Fiona (Anne-Marie Duff) is just barely holding her gaggle of younger siblings together after their mother abandoned them and their father turned drunkard, but a marriage proposal that involves promises of a suburban mortgage and a pension fund before protestations of love is a genuine temptation. (James McAvoy, of The Last King of Scotland, plays one of her suitors.) It’s all as depressing sad as it is rowdily funny. In addition to the entire seven-episode debut season, which first aired in Britain in 2004 (and later on BBC America), the set also features an interview with series creator Paul Abbott. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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