We were here first! You bougie overeducated limousine liberal jerks are the ones who descended from on high and bought up all our shit. – Frank Gallagher
William H. Macy’s portrayal of narcissistic, drug addicted, alcoholic welfare family patriarch Frank Gallagher on Showtime’s Shameless is nothing short of brilliant. Having once been justifiably described by many of those unsavory adjectives myself, I can attest to the fact that playing a convincing drunk is no easy task. There are subtleties of mannerism that Macy has down to a science, but what I would guess is even more challenging is trying to bring at least some cohesion to the contradictory opinions perpetually spewed by a habitual and overly loquacious lush.
Frank can blurt out an abhorrently racist rant and say something surprisingly understanding and inclusive all within the course of a single episode (and sometimes within the course of a single beer). His political views espoused over the past 7 seasons are equally difficult to pin down, unless you understand what motivates a drunk of this caliber to say the things he does. Frank himself explained this motivation best in a conversation with Christopher (a lonely, somewhat effeminate guy that he agreed to “sponsor” in A.A. so that he could flop on his couch free of charge). A few days after moving in, Frank appeared on the evening news ranting about equal rights for him and his “partner” with the clear implication that they were gay and deserving of the same government assistance afforded to married couples. After watching this outburst on TV, Christopher is aghast, saying that it took him years to convince his mother he was straight. He then questions Frank outright, “Frank, are you gay?” Frank’s reply is indicative of his outlook in pretty much all situations: “I’m whatever I need to be at the time I need to be it. Put THAT in your A.A. journal.”
If a label must be applied to Frank’s political leanings, I guess Libertarian wouldn’t be too far off the mark. He is undoubtedly a staunch advocate for personal freedoms: (addressing police officers arriving at a neighborhood block party) “Oh, here we go! No traffic tickets to issue today? No one to pull over for swinging wide on a left hand turn? Or is this a supportive friend party for a cop who shot some poor fucker wasn’t even armed? Leave the people around here alone. They’re good folks!” But it seems that Frank’s idea of personal freedom also includes the right to indiscriminately shout horribly bigoted things at whoever may be standing in his way, along with whatever you interpret this casually tendered question to imply: “Kev, just out of curiosity, you happen to know the age of consent in Illinois?”
Is Frank sexist? Well, of course he is, but he also has moments when it seems that he knows just what a woman wants to hear. Frank: “Kate, can I use your phone?” Kate: “Fuck off, Frank. Your tab is bigger than my ass and you smell like kimchi and vomit.” Frank: “Oh, stop that, your ass looks great!” Or this inspirational share at a women’s breast cancer support group: “Just knowing your tits are trying to kill you…that’s gotta suck. I mean, mine’s in my balls. At least they’ve got a reason to be pissed. Tucked between two legs, wedged right near your asshole. There’s no good way to sit, no underwear that’s been devised to hold ‘em effectively in place. They’re a bizarre appendage. An afterthought. Which is why I don’t believe in intelligent design. There’s no God! We’re all gonna die!”
My guess is that Frank would feel about Trump the way he feels about pretty much everything: if he’s being surly and mean, he would almost certainly applaud a good hateful Trumpian meltdown. But if Trump were to, say, mess with people’s access to welfare, that’s a whole different story. Welfare and disability checks are what keeps Frank perpetually loaded and like any starving, cornered animal, he would fight to the death to protect his sustenance.
They would almost certainly see eye to eye regarding our progressive neighbors to the north: “I hate fucking Canada!… The whole country’s a bunch of parka wearing, draft dodging chicken shit cowards who didn’t have the balls to stay home and fight the Vietcong to preserve our American way of life!” Hmm…is it just me, or did that sound eerily like a 2:00 a.m. tweet from our infant-in-chief?
Since Frank’s “values” are so amorphous, I believe he would feel pretty ambivalent about an asshole like Trump. Luckily, Shameless has been picked up for an eighth season, so I won’t have to speculate much longer. Sure, Frank is a vile, selfish, reckless, disgusting prick, but he’s also a slave to countless addictions. From what he claims, Trump can’t even fall back on such an explanation. He is stone sober when delivering his unsolicited, unhinged, reprehensible rants.
Sadly, a statement made by Mr. Macy at this year’s SAG Awards doesn’t sound like a joke or even an exaggeration: “I would like to go against the stream this evening and thank President Trump for making Frank Gallagher seem so normal.” Well said, Mr. Macy. Well said.
* For my friends across the Pond, this is the same as wondering how David Threlfall’s Frank Gallagher would feel about Brexit.