VIDEO: Watch the Premiere of Showtime's Brilliant 'Shameless'
VIDEO: Watch the Premiere of Showtime's Brilliant 'Shameless'
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
We're less than two weeks in, but I'm ready to declare Showtime's Shameless as the best new show of 2011. The remake of a British series is a fascinating study in a family of latchkey children living with their single alcoholic father, played by the always brilliant William H. Macy.

That might sound like a recipe for severe melodrama, but Shameless succeeds because of its optimism. The family is incredibly close and while their lives may be far from perfect, they all find a way to survive.

Macy's Frank Gallagher may be the patriarch, but the real parent is the oldest sister Fiona (Emmy Rossum). She's a girl who clearly had to grow up quickly and who has become a fully-fledged adult while still painfully young. Her life is turned upside-down one night at a club thanks to the mysterious and chivalrous Steve (Justin Chatwin), who is interested in a lot more than just a one-night stand.

The other key members of the family are Lip and Ian, two brothers who look out for each other and are busy exploring their own youthful sexuality. Older brother Lip is pleased to find a girl he tutors offering to go under the table during a study session to help him out while her mother is in the next room. Meanwhile, Ian is dealing with his own homosexuality, a secret he's kept from the brother he supposedly tells everything to.

While Shameless has a lot of heart, viewers should know that it's also graphically sexual. The pilot features an intense bout of lovemaking on a kitchen floor plus the biggest taboo in all of TV: full frontal male nudity. That honor comes courtesy of the Gallaghers' neighbor and landlord Kev, played by former Reba star Steven Howey.

British remakes are normally a recipe for disaster, but Shameless is a wild, exciting and very fulfilling ride. There's no shame in loving it.

Watch the entire pilot of Shameless.

Shameless airs Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.

(Image and video courtesy of Showtime)