Two weeks ago, I wrote about my love for Showtime’s Shameless, a dramedy about the loyal, albeit dysfunctional, Gallagher family who live in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood. Anyway, long story short — it’s an awesome show and the first four seasons are available on Netflix, so go watch it.
I wanted to follow up that post with a bit of a vent about the inevitable consequences of messing with a beloved OTP (one true pairing) and essentially, pissing off the fandom.
Let’s back up. You see, one of the pillars that supports Shameless is the relationship of Ian Gallagher and Mickey Milkovich. These are two guys who have grown up together in a crime-ridden, survival-of-the-fittest neighborhood where being gay is cause for a beat-down. The couple has had their ups and (mostly) downs, but their character development is unlike anything seen on television. It’s a work of beauty that took years to achieve. I could pen a dissertation on their relationship, but I won’t do that here (again, watch the show). The thing you need to understand is that the Shameless fandom loooooooves these characters with a vengeance. The fanfiction devoted to Gallavich (their OTP name) is a wondrous place where fans can pen their happily-ever-afters without judgement.
However something happened that was not in Shameless writers’ control. Noel Fisher (the actor who plays Mickey) decided to leave the show after the fifth season to pursue other projects. This put producers in a bind. Obviously the Gallavich coupling could be no longer. Fair enough. Actors come and go from their shows all the time and writers have to get creative. Fans understand this. But Gallavich fans got upset when the writers played a bit of revisionist history with Mickey’s character. It was as if suddenly Mickey hadn’t been the man the writers had developed him into over the course of five seasons.
[No, I’m not happy.]
Mickey’s character assassination has left fans with bitter disappointment. They’ve taken their heartache to tumblr and Archive of Our Own where they rewrite the sixth season as if it never happened. Some fans have admitted to not watching the show anymore because they can’t bear witness to the destruction of a beloved character.
I read this great post about the dissolution of Mickey and Ian and how the writers need to be true to the characters, not the fans. Understandably, but that’s not what is happening here (at least, not to this fan). The writers appear to disregard five seasons of growth, making Ian spew out the most ridiculous of comments that almost make him feel like a non-participant in his own story. In this case, the writers aren’t staying true to the character either.
Season 7 starts in October and I’m curious to see where the writers take Ian Gallagher’s storyline. I’m also desperately hoping Noel Fisher will return, and I’d like to win the lottery. Cause I’m greedy like that. Anyway, I just want what all fans want — I want the writers to do right by the characters and that means staying true to the development they established over the last five years.
I don’t expect happy endings abound since Shameless is not that kind of show. But I do expect the writers to value the emotional connection fans have made to the show’s characters and to do ‘write‘ by it (see what I did there?) Otherwise, what’s the point of watching?