Rumor has it that the cast of Showtime’s Shameless had their first table read for the upcoming seventh season. It got me thinking about all the things I loved (and didn’t love) about the last season (or two). Among the biggest disappointments has been the departure of Mickey Milkovich portrayer Noel Fisher and the hole his character’s absence has left on the show.
For the first five seasons I was a die hard “Gallavich” fan. Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey are one of my all-time favorite television couples. Their love story was beautifully told with brutally painful lows and the most magnificent highs. In Fisher’s absence, Shameless writers had to decide what to do with Ian romantically. Would he spend the season wallowing in Mickey’s absence? Would he swear off men for the rest of time? They decided to have him slowly get involved with Mickey’s antithesis, a firefighter named Caleb (Jeff Pierre).
There’s a lot I could say about the way the Ian/Caleb romance unfolded and the liberties that were taken with Ian’s understanding of how relationships work. The Ian Gallagher we met in season 1 would have been horrified by some of the things season 6 Ian said to Caleb. I don’t believe for one moment that Ian’s relationship with Mickey would have made him so uncomfortable with a relationship that progressed at a more typical pace. That said, there was something nice about seeing Ian with someone who was so different than Mickey in so many ways. For so long Ian had to be the one pushing things along, and though Mickey really turned himself around, it was pleasant to see Ian at the beginning of something with someone who didn’t make him feel like an idiot for wanting something real.
We talk a lot on the podcast about two different kinds of ‘ships. The first is the kind of TV romance that makes you feel things all the way in your toes. It’s a visceral connection that hurts when things are bad and elates when things are good. The other kind is the relationship where you can relax because the character you love is with a good person. You can feel confident and comfortable in the thought that if these characters were people you knew in real life you’d be rooting them on. Some might argue that the best ‘ships fit into both categories. I, personally, love the drama-filled, angsty ‘ships that maybe aren’t so safe and smart.
At the end of the day, though, both are appealing for their own reasons. It’s part of why Jane the Virgin’s love triangle is so hard to decipher. Jane’s two love interests balance these two ideas and put them up against each other (while also mixing aspects of each type into each of her relationships). Ian and Mickey broke ground in so many ways. The fact that their love story was the opposite of conventional is why so many people loved it as intensely as they did.
But, is it really so bad for Ian to find love in a more conventional way? If we play out the Gallavich road all the way to the end…what’s there? Which relationship takes Ian somewhere that we want to see him go? I love Mickey Milkovich with all of my heart. The thought of him rotting away in prison without Ian’s love destroys me. But, realistically, it’s hard to root for Ian’s relationship with Caleb to fail in favor of what he had with Mickey.
I’ll never know why Fisher chose to leave. And, should he return in season 7, I can’t say I’d be against a “Gallavich” reunion (certainly the goosebumps that appear on my arms from the mere thought are in favor). I want to give Ian and Caleb a chance, though. As a fan, first of foremost, of the character of Ian Gallagher, I want to see him have a chance at a healthy, successful relationship, even if it doesn’t make me feel quite as many things as I felt watching him with Mickey.
What do you think?