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Showtime's Shameless returns with season 4 premiere 'Simple Pleasures'

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Showtime's Winter Television shows are back and the new season of Shameless is here. The network's popular, dysfunctional comedy/drama, Shameless is just as indecent as the previous acclaimed seasons, while welcoming a hint of change in season 4's debut episode "Simple Pleasures".

Shameless, a show that follows the Gallagher family, consisting of barely functioning super-alcoholic father, Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy), and his clan of 6 ably smart and tougher than pavement children (4 boys and 2 girls), living in poverty and among categorical dysfunction, all under the same roof (often times). The Gallagher's, who just began their fourth run on Showtime last night, are as immoral as the show's title suggests, and then some-- if last night's show is an indicator, this season looks to provide the same shame, but with a slightly different formula.

When season 3 left off, the Shameless gang was out of sorts in the season finale, "Survival of the Fittest", with Lip (Jeremy Allen White), Ian (Cameron Monaghan), and Frank leaving the heavily occupied and poverty stricken Gallagher house-- Lip leaving to college, Ian to the army after falsifying his identity, and Frank (with liver failure) fleeing the hospital still in hospital gown into the winter night. Fiona's (Emmy Rossum) perplexing relationship with Jimmy/Steve (Justin Chatwin) gained a few extra wrinkles as Jimmy is presumed missing by her, unbeknownst to Fiona that her disappeared boyfriend may actually be dead. The season 3 finale left many new obstacles and question marks while paving the way for an intriguing 'where will they go from here' cliffhanger that's eluded fans until last night's season 4 premiere. The season premiere marks change in that the close-knit Gallagher's are now scattered, and whether or not Fiona can survive the current wave of impediments as the family's rock is the season's undertone.

The beginning of Season 4 highlights an evolved cast of characters with new challenges facing the Gallaghers and their just as shameless supporting cast of Kev (Steve Howey), Veronica (Shanola Hampton), Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher) and the rest. In this season's first episode "Simple Pleasures", the Fiona led Gallagher household is finding its footing after the departure of her two brothers (Lip and Ian) and the ignominious exodus of Frank, who has turned to heroin to overcome his alcoholism, which he is still waging a losing battle against. Ian's departure to the army, while presumed missing by Fiona, is just one of the many challenges presented to her as she struggles to keep the delicate fabric that keeps the Gallagher household together, less two of its helping hands in her brothers Ian and Lip; all the while adapting to younger siblings Debbie and Carl's maturation-laced escapades.

Debbie Gallagher (Emma Kenney) is now exploring the fringe of her teenage years and no longer carries herself as the mini-Fiona attempting to emulate her older sister. The 13-year-old is now chasing boys, wearing make-up and even auctioning off her virginity. Carl Gallagher (Ethan Cutkosky), who is just one year younger than Debbie, also finds himself challenged with the coming of his pubescence. The second youngest Gallagher finds himself accepting an adult-like role in the household after he is handed the mantle of Frank's caretaker, a role normally reserved for Fiona, after his father is returned home gravely ill. Carl, in the midst of a hormonal upheaval, is involved in a variety of hi-jinx which includes discovering masturbation for the first time (9 times in one day) and helping his father Frank rectally absorb alcohol.

Fiona is still effected by the loss/disappearance of her seasons 1-3 romance Jimmy and is now tiptoeing the fine line of office romances while holding onto her job at World Wide Cup-- her flirting with boss Mike Pratt (Jake McDorman) has now transformed into a budding relationship. Fiona's character appears taken back by new boyfriend/boss Mike and his demeanor as the relationship is a change of pace for Fiona, who is used to dealing with boys from her block whose advances normally require her to choose between the decision to "taser [them] or go along [with it] like the rest of the guys" (Wells 2014). The new relationship appears to be a pivotal plot point as Shameless' season ahead preview suggests-- will her office romance effect her ability to provide for the Gallagher clan? Will Fiona's promiscuous past stay dormant long enough for her and Mike to take their relationship from its infancy and into something serious?

Kevin and Veronica are still dealing with the 'baby mama drama' that is precarious enough to help redefine the phrase itself. Kev and his long-time girlfriend's mother Carol (Vanessa Bell Calloway) are dealing with the aftermath of he impregnating her due to Veronica's child bearing issues, and his relationship with Veronica is surviving the best it can under these circumstances. The audacious and overtly sexual duo received a welcomed surprise to add to the fold, as Veronica is now pregnant herself, making that two babies that will be very close in age now on the way. With Kevin being financially drained by Carol's prenatal care, and now another baby on the horizon, will Kev and Veronica's conceivably indestructible relationship survive a second baby?

Mickey Milkovich, not to be confused with Fiona's boyfriend Mike, is the clandestinely gay neighborhood tough guy and is the character that appears to be feeling Ian's departure the most; Mickey is also the character that has seen shamelessness reach new heights in the show's fourth season. Mickey is still married to his pregnant Russian prostitute bride and is running several nefarious money making schemes, one of which involves his visibly pregnant wife giving hand jobs; his only disapproval with the situation being her not making enough money doing so. In this season Mickey is as bad as he has ever been, with his character seemingly only scraping the surface of this season's atrocities as he has a hard time dealing with the disappearance of Ian Gallagher.

As the season progresses for the Gallagher clan and friends, look for more flagrant antics from the Showtime comedy/drama. Will Ian return from the army? Will Jimmy ever resurface or did he and Fiona's love affair come to a dead end on his father-in law's yacht? Can Frank take control of his alcoholism before his lack of self control kills him? Tune into Showtime on Sunday's at 9 PM EST on Sundays to keep up with the Gallagher clan and friends.

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