Mickey comes crashing out of the closet
Showtime's “Shameless” scored the most viewers in the series’ history, even against a massive finale for AMC's “The Walking Dead.”
“Shameless” had 2.8 million viewers for Sunday's episode, in which temperamental gay thug Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher) came crashing out of the closet in foul-mouthed, violent fashion.
Season-to-date, “Shamelesss” is averaging 5.7 million weekly viewers, up 8 percent versus last season through the same time frame. It is on course for its highest-rated season ever.
“Shameless” aired opposite the Season 4 finale of “The Walking Dead,” which set a finale record by earning 15.7 million viewers and 10.2 million adults 18 to 49.
Showtime's “House of Lies” also had its best night of the season, with 1.44 million viewers for the night. The third season of “House of Lies” is averaging three million weekly viewers, and is on par with last season through the same time frame.
The Best-Written Gay Couple on Television Is Hiding on a Guilty-Pleasure Show
Shameless often gets lost somewhere in the glut of prestige Sunday-night television. It lacks the polish of Mad Men and the out-and-out insanity of Game of Thrones. Shameless often gets written off as a guilty pleasure—glance over at the television while someone else is watching and you’re likely to see a debauch of some kind or another. Sex, violence, addiction, and depravity are the show’s rallying cry. But somewhere in the cracks, Shameless has built a cast of believable, sympathetic, dirt-poor characters struggling to escape circumstance, genetics, and self-destructive behavior.
Armed with a steadily growing fan base, Shameless is now wrapping up its fourth and strongest season. With spotlight stealers like patriarch Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) largely out of commission, and Fiona Gallagher (Emmy Rossum) hitting rock bottom, the show has really allowed some of the rest of the Gallagher clan to shine. Earlier in the season, Lip Gallagher (Jeremy Allen White), the family genius, pulled focus with his heart-wrenching struggles to make it through college. But in the last few episodes, Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan) and his on-again, off-again boyfriend, Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher), have been throwing the heavyweight acting punches. Starting with Mickey’s rescue of a drug-addled Ian and culminating with last night’s brawl-inducing coming-out scene, these two are finally making good on four seasons of simmering backstory.
From the start, Monaghan’s Ian Gallagher was touted as a “unique” gay character on television. The anti-Kurt Hummel. And while it’s true that Ian is a bit more rough and tumble than your usual gay stereotype, he’s still a fairly sensitive boy. But there’s nothing sensitive about the Mickey character, a horrifyingly violent young thug who was as likely to punch Ian as he was to kiss him. Just last season, Mickey delivered this heart-breaking beat down.
These are scared, oppressed boys who often kiss through broken faces. But in the past few episodes, Mickey has started to thaw. Part of this is due to the pain of losing Ian to a short-lived (and illegal) stint in the army. Another part is Ian’s involvement in the gay-club and prostitution scene. We’re not necessarily supposed to see this as a healthy decision for Ian. But the freedom and relief Mickey feels in kissing Ian in public without reprisal, or being told he’s “lucky” to have Ian at an affluent gay mixer, is eye-opening and emboldening for the poor kid. It was all leading up to last night’s coming-out moment.
What should have been a depressing and disturbing scene of a father beating the life out of his son was, ultimately, uplifting. The boys again kissing through broken faces.
But this time with grins.
To praise the bloody, fraught relationship of Mickey and Ian is not to diminish other, less dramatic depictions. There are a million ways to be gay in America and none of them are wrong. Mickey’s thuggish, street tough is a natural progression from characters like Omar on The Wire, and like every character on Shameless, he and Ian are allowed to be beautiful disasters who are both hard to love and impossible to resist. This is due, in no small part, to the amazing performances from Noel Fisher and Cameron Monaghan who have grown beautifully into their roles.
And, like it has with many other struggles, Shameless has found a universal truth in this extreme. Being gay can be hard everywhere and is certainly harder on the wrong sides of the Chicago tracks. Every punch Mickey threw at Ian was really a blow aimed inward. That’s not to excuse the abuse (and make no mistake, Ian can give as good as he gets). But somehow, against all odds, Mickey and Ian came out the other side clean. It doesn’t mean happily ever after for them. It rarely does on this show. But it does mean that at least now, with all the other demons vanquished, they’re only their own worst enemies. And isn’t that the very least we all deserve?
This show needs all the awards.