Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Shameless (American version) has always been a very transactional series. The Gallaghers, and their neighbors Kevin and Veronica, are hustlers. They are always out to make a buck, and that often involves deals. Season 11 is no different, but it happens in the world of the new normal, with the added ingredients of the pandemic and legalized marijuana.
First, congratulations to Shameless for presenting the world as it is today. All of the other series I have been following, although set in the present, act as though the pandemic never happened. Shameless thematizes masks, social distancing, lockdowns, supply-chain problems, and the political attitudes surrounding them. Having all of the characters wears masks, at least part of the time, must have presented novel challenges to the sound people. To the credit of the series' gritty verisimilitude, the actors, speaking through masks, sounded muffled, but they could still be understood, just like in real life.
Just a taste of some of the contracts issues in Season 11 (some spoilers ahead):
- With their bar shut down during COVID, Kevin and Veronica wisely diversify, getting into the marijuana business. They run into supply-chain problems, and hire Frank, a highly skilled procurement specialist. There are some quick negotiations, and the parties settle on splitting the profits three ways. After Frank also takes over as chief edibles confectioner, he demands a 60/40 cut in his favor. Kevin and Veronica acquiesce as, by his impeccable logic, they are now merely distributors; he is doing all of the work. That cut jumps to 70/30 in his favor when he catches them trying to bypass him by going directly to Frank's favored source. They are not very skilled in negotiation. How is Frank to distribute without their operation? I don't remember Walter White and Jesse telling Gustavo Fring that they were entitled to 70% because of he was just the distributor. Unfortunately, the permutations of this partnership are not further explored, as the supply-chain bottleneck clears up, and Kev and V can return to their Frank-free operations.
- However, Kev and V also need to hire some muscle. Kev, in the early stages of his success, celebrates a bit too ostentatiously with a tricked-out truck and new clothes that he considers stylish. South-siders recognize the vulnerability of the nouveau riche and quickly relieve him of all of his baubles, including his money roll. Enter Micky Milkovich and Ian Gallagher, decked out in camo and battle gear. They hijack an ambulance which, with the help of Ian's handy sister, Debbie, they turn into an armored vehicle. At one point, they seemed to have entered into a side deal for $1000/day to provide the same transport services for a much more sophisticated enterprise, but that plot point was not pursued for some reason.
- Unsurprisingly, Frank does not really understand how restitution works. Frank was going about his usual business, completely innocently, when somebody punched him the face, knocking him out, and left his body by a dumpster. A good Samaritan discovered him and brought him to the emergency room. We learn all this from the doctor who is stitching up Frank's face while testing him for brain injury. He responds by inquiring whether the good Samaritan is going to pay for his transport to the ER via ambulance and for the treatment to which he never agreed.