August 26, 2019  (Web Review)

Shameless: The Complete Ninth Season

Warner, 4 discs, 780 min., not rated, DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray: $39.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

The ninth season of Showtime’s Shameless takes on several hot-button issues—in its trademark fast-paced fashion—ranging from gentrification to sexual discrimination. The year begins with a change in fortune for disheveled Gallagher family patriarch Frank (William H. Macy), an alcoholic (and other substances abuser) who becomes a sex magnet for bored upper-class mothers (a not especially believable development), while son Ian (Cameron Monaghan) spends most of this season behind bars for his evangelical escapades. As for the other Gallagher siblings, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) looks to expand her real estate holdings, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) adjusts to sudden fatherhood, Debbie (Emma Kenney) fights for equal pay, and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) plots to make the military his career. Along the way, Debbie and Carl fall for the same Annapolis-bound woman, and Lip is attracted to his AA sponsor’s salty sister-in-law. Naturally, the good times don’t last, as Frank’s exploits lead to the end of youngest son Liam’s (Christian Isaiah) private school scholarship, and he becomes campaign manager for a candidate, Mo White (Dan Lauria), who has a statutory rape conviction. And if that wasn’t problematic enough, Mo adopts “White is Right” as his slogan. In a nod to the #MeToo movement, neighbors Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) make the Alibi bar more welcoming to women after a local journalist proclaims their establishment “rapey,” and they take in a Guatemalan refugee with a wicked fastball. As for fortunes, no one falls harder this season than Fiona, traditionally the most responsible Gallagher, giving the departing Rossum the chance to show she can handle anything the writers throw at her. As ever, the show’s reach tends to exceed its grasp, but the Gallaghers remain one of TV’s most engaging families. Compiling all 14 episodes from the 2018-19 ninth season, extras include unaired scenes. Recommended. (K. Fennessy)