Curator's Note

I love this show. Why? It says it in the title and everyone is equal in their arrant, naughty behavior. I especially love seeing a recently outed lesbian mother portrayed as a beguiling and selfishly, manipulative absentee mother. This show unapologetically entertains us with bad parenting as its core theme. This particular episode aired more than a decade ago. That's quite a long time. In fact that's two and a half World cups back. It's before Twitter, Facebook and even the i- phone existed. That was like an entirely different world than the one we live in now in terms of how every culture and a vast myriad of lifestyles and content are available to us. And yet, very little new or exciting or disturbing or breathtaking material exists that includes COLAGE related themes. What do we have currently, Modern family? It's light, it's palatable, and it’s Network television, which means it’s a spoon full of sugar. What else? The Kids are Alright? I liked the movie, but once again it's quite saccharine. The Californian sun, the wine, the pleasant lifestyle, the cute kids with gorgeous hair and two mothers who love them deeply. I want more. Shameless is the other extreme, but for my taste closer to more people's reality whom I know than Modern Family and The Kids are Alright portray. I think it's time for a COLAGE based show on cable or maybe Netflix with children and parents that represents all the available themes of human nature; Love and abuse, sacrifice and betrayal, forgiveness and rejection, hope and loss. We no longer need to be held to a higher or different standard proving our worth as families that are equal in our capabilities and deserve to be counted. If we are equal, then represent us as such. Show our scars, show our inabilities, and show the tragedy within our families. Sometimes the kids are not alright and that’s alright.


Nick, thanks so much for this post. I couldn't agree with you more in terms of both this show and the your reaction to other media representations of queer families. It's funny because when I first saw the show earlier this year, I totally missed the implications of Monica's lesbian identity for her kids (i.e. that they would be queerspawn or COLAGErs). And I would assume that as a queerspawn/COLAGEr with a PhD in Media Studies, I might be inclined to pick up on that. But Shameless so obviously grapples (albeit comedically) with the ramifications of poverty/class and parental alcoholism that other issues are overshadowed. What that leaves us is a family defined by things other than their queerness, something that's nearly impossible to find in other shows with queer families. Monica wields her lesbianism like a cudgel, but because it's so obviously the tool of a manipulative and petty woman, she is irreducible to her sexuality. I agree that we need a show with depictions of complex family dynamics that include the bad along with the good. Interestingly, like most good British shows, Shameless has been appropriated in the US and made into a show about a Chicago housing project. What I'm curious to see is whether or not they stay faithful to the story line of the original show and include a lesbian mother. My gut tells me no, and if I'm right, we'll learn an important lesson about where the US is with representations of queer families from that absence.

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