Shameless season 11 was changed a great deal due to the need to include the coronavirus pandemic in scripts that were already mostly written.
Shameless season 11 was changed a great deal due to the need to include the coronavirus pandemic in scripts that were already mostly written. The comedy-drama following the trials and tribulations (not to mention misadventures) of the Gallagher clan is the longest-running scripted drama in network Showtime's history. It reached that mark with season 9 and will bow out with the upcoming season 11, debuting on Sunday, December 6. Shameless features William H. Macy, who leads an ensemble cast of young actors, including Cameron Monaghan (Gotham's Joker) as gay son Ian, Jeremy Allen White as eldest son "Lip" and Emma Kenney as middle sister Debbie.
The show also featured Emmy Rossum as co-lead for seasons 1 through 9, before the outspoken actor, who recently shot back at a fan for shaming her Shameless nude scenes, left to pursue other opportunities. Season 11 is expected to wrap up the main plot lines from the show, ending 11 years of drama. The show seems to be finishing a season or two too late, with quality dropping in recent years, particularly with season 10, which contained several contradictions and making little sense at times. For season 11, the writing process was made even more challenging because several episodes had to be rewritten to include the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to TVLine, Shameless executive producer and showrunner John Wells reveals that they had to acknowledge the pandemic in the show, given how it's always reflected the current political and cultural reality in the USA. Wells adds that it caused production issues, though, given that most of the scripts were already written, leading the writers to amend them. Wells ends by saying season 11 deals with the pandemic's fallout, including job losses and the other social problems it caused, but they try to approach the subject with the show's trademark humor. You can read his full comments below:
We decided it would really be impossible to not deal with the current issues in Shameless. [Its] a ribald satire about public policy [so we couldn't ignore it]. We’d written an awful lot of the episodes. We went back and put them into the world that we’re experiencing now. So that changed a lot in the storytelling. [It's] dealing with how many jobs have been lost and how much tougher it’s gotten for people who are already barely hanging on — and trying to make it funny.
It's no surprise Shameless felt the need to explore the pandemic. COVID has disproportionately affected poor people, both medically and financially, with working-class jobs being the first to get cut when the virus hit the USA. It will be interesting to see just how much of a role the pandemic plays in the show. There is potential for it to be a prominent feature of the finale season. As wells said, the financial aspect is the easiest to write into the show, illustrating how much more challenging it would have got for the Gallaghers to survive during the pandemic.
There's also scope for season 11 to tastefully add in a tragic element related to the pandemic, perhaps having one of the main characters suffer from it and either die or have their health affected. That would be a more controversial plot choice, but if dealt with properly, it could make a strong point about how the authorities' failure to curb the virus's spread affected ordinary working people. Frank, whose struggles with addiction are covered frequently, would be the obvious choice. With episode 1 debuting in just a few weeks, Shameless fans will find out soon.