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On the second season of Showtime’s Shameless, viewers have watched summer give way as the show moved into a very dark period for the Gallagher family. Along the way, it also made a departure from the plotlines of the original British version.
“We started playing more towards the strengths of our particular actors, and the way that they evolve in the characters, which inevitably was going to start moving away from their British counterparts, from the original mold,” Co-Executive Producer and Director Mark Mylod tells The Hollywood Reporter.
THR spoke to Mylod about the themes of the series’ second season and the crazy ride of its penultimate episode heading into Sunday’s season finale.
The Hollywood Reporter: With Monica’s (Chloe Webb) attempted suicide and Karen’s (Laura Wiggins) baby’s birth, many viewers were struck by how moving and frankly crazy the last episode was – almost like a season finale. What was the reasoning for that?
Mark Mylod: It just evolved that way, I think in the writers room, because we wanted to get to a place where we kind of completed Chloe, the mother’s kind of arc, and in order to kind of make space for the kind of season finale popper. The actual inherent drama of that scene, the attempted suicide, and the immediate fallout from that coupled with wanting to get to a place where the birth of the child again could come before the end of the season finale, so that we could deal with the aftermath of that somewhat in the season finale. It just ended up being a very high stakes dramatic episode, so consequently, obviously was a lot of fun to direct.
THR: What can you say about what we’ll see on the finale?
Mylod: The season finale actually really continues directly from where we left off in Episode 11 where we deal with the aftermath of this horrendous night, and actually see the characters’ result. I’m scared about unwittingly being a spoiler, but I’m kind of judging my words too carefully, weighing my words too carefully, but it really is about dealing with the aftermath of the event of Episode 11 with the event of that night, and actually the audience will get to see where the certain ongoing conflicts through the second season, will or will not actually be settled.
THR: One of the most striking differences in this season comes with Frank (William H. Macy). We definitely see a whole different side of him with Monica around. What was it like to bring that out of him?
Mylod: That was a surprise for me this year, and a really good surprise, because I worked on the first season of the British version, that we were so sure at that point way back in 2004 that Frank would be this irredeemable sociopath really. I always thought that finding any kind of humanity in the character would be some kind of sellout, you know, making things too warm and cozy. But actually I think that between the writers and Bill, we found a way this season of actually really exploring where that character comes from through Chloe, and then through obviously through meeting his own mother. And actually we had just found a way not to excuse Frank, but to just take it as more context as to where he came from, and I think you get wind of this peculiar kind of family dynasty that locks into place and you see Frank and see that at one point as a young man in love, he was probably very charismatic.
THR: Can you speak as to how seeing this other side of Frank reflects on the paths we saw Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and Lip (Jeremy Allen White) take this season?
Mylod: It gives us a glimpse into the kids’ potential to follow in Frank’s footsteps. We see those flaws in Jeremy’s character and to a certain extent with Emmy’s character Fiona we see the chip off the old block, we see where the genes are passed down. And we see the potential fall into the dark where both characters could take, and that jeopardy, that kind of genealogical jeopardy is really interesting I think dramatically.
It makes us fear for those characters from the choice that they make in their lives, the possible ramifications of a wrong turn, a wrong decision, but the stakes are really high. And because we’ve grown sort of attached to these characters, we end up really caring, we give a shit, you know? And I thought that was a really interesting dynamic to Frank, that dissection of his character this year, not just because of what the show does for him, but the ripple effect, and how that opened up the other characters within the family.
THR: Certainly the Gallaghers have a great propensity to forgive those they love as we’ve seen with Frank and Monica, Lip and Karen, and Fiona and Steve-Jimmy (Justin Chatwin). Is the series trying to make a statement about love?
Mylod: I hate to think we were sending any kind of message per se, I like to think we were without judging, because I think that’s what the characters do. One of my greatest loves for the series and the characters within it, is their incredible tolerance, and their lack of judgment, and I think that is one trait that all the characters share really apart from those that we kind of kill off as punishment. Each of those characters has an incredible tolerance, and an underlying humanity, and it’s been the greatest thing for them, and it can be their weakness as well, but they’re not judged.
I mean even Karen, and just with her extreme behavior this year. I think Lip basically understands it. He understands that survival instinct. He understands her lack of affirmation from her father, understands that she feels alone in the world, and therefore, feels the need to survive. He doesn’t condone it obviously, but neither does he judge. Likewise, with Fiona these characters fundamentally understand that people do what they need to do to survive, they relate to that, and I find that kind of passionate humanity, and lack of judgment to be probably their greatest strength.
THR: What’s the plan and significance for Harry Hamlin’s character and Ian (Cameron Monaghan)?
Mylod: The reason for that particular story line is certainly a liberating thing for us. When Cameron, who plays the character of Ian turned 18 really, for legal reasons we had to shy off somewhat in what we could show in terms of the character’s sexuality, and it’s not what we’re obsessed with actually, the fact that he’s gay, obviously that’s just one part of the character, but it was a part that we haven’t been able to explore really with any kind of frankness in Season 1.
It’s just great to have the opportunity to see the world open up for him, and really that liaison he has with a one night stand was a great opportunity to see Ian actually having fun. We see he finally becomes focused on his ambition to get into the Marines. He’s a very focused and intense young man. You’re 18, you’re good looking, you got a little bit of money in your pocket from working down the local supermarket, and actually you’re going out and f–king and having fun.
The Shameless season finale airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on Showtime.
Watch a preview below.
E-mail: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro
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