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For Shame, ‘Shameless’!


I’m a little ashamed of the show ‘Shameless’. I really shouldn’t be given the name, plus the fact that it’s about a family of criminals headed by a severe alcoholic who surprises me every episode with his depravity. In case you don’t watch, he’s been cashing his aunt’s social security checks since he buried her in the backyard 14 years ago, blocked a woman from getting a critical heart transplant and then sex’d her to death to take her pension, and left his own 3 year old as collateral with angry drug lords. Tip of the iceberg, but somehow I love it. And then they introduced a questionable trans girl.

A couple of weeks ago one of the characters went with his girlfriend to rescue her half-sister Molly from being shoved into the system. Molly appeared to be a young and pretty girl, which we never questioned, until she is caught peeing standing up. This immediately brings on the third degree, to which Molly replies that she has a ‘girl penis’. I was delighted at first. A trans girl on a show I love! Yay! Score one for us. I didn’t stay excited for too long.

The first problem I had was that most of the rest of the characters, including the most respectable and lovable one, Fiona, start calling Molly ‘he’ and insist on describing her as a boy. It’s true; this is a family of uneducated criminals from the very worst part of Chicago, but the speed with which they conclude that Molly is a boy and nothing but upon discovering a physical feature is disappointing. Even more so when you look at it from a high level and realize a writing and creative team decided to go in this direction when they could have easily gone in the one much more favorable. I cringed of course, but kept and open mind that they might be going somewhere with this. After all, they quickly turned the frightening ugly bully of the ginger teen into his bottom in a surprise homosexual twist.

Then the second hit came. Apparently Molly’s now deceased mom had a strong hatred for all men and thus decided to raise Molly as a girl. I think you can see where I have a problem with this. Anyone watching who may at one time or another, wondered, “Gee, where the heck do transgender people come from anyway?”, is going to immediately have a light bulb go off. “Ah ha! Their parents like girls or boys better, so of course they are going to want to be that! And all this time I just assumed it was because they were molested.” I’m just waiting for that furry little new nugget to start popping up in the old debates. Seriously, I could not be more annoyed.

The piss of it is that the character of Molly seems to be very happy about being a girl. Yeah, she stands up to pee, but given that she lives in a house with 11 people, most of them of questionable filthiness, with just one bathroom, I can’t say as I blame her. Other than that, she appears to love her identity, her clothes, experimenting with makeup, and even her name. Raised that way or not, it seems awfully atypical of someone with a male gender identity, equipment or no.

As Molly has only appeared in two episodes so far as I write this, I still have hopes that the writers take the opportunity to tackle this in a good way. Well, as good as they can given the overall depravity of the show. So far they have handled rough trade homosexuality, extreme S&M addiction, death, cancer, alcoholism, agoraphobia, child abuse and endangerment, and a host of other looming social issues with good cheer and warm heartedness, so I don’t see where this would be any different… We are screwed here, aren’t we, ‘cause that was not exactly a list we want to be inserted into.

Time will tell on this. It can go either way. Molly might suddenly appear as ‘Mike’ with short hair and wearing a hand me down pair of patched old dungarees and help the older boys sell frosty treats, joints, and illegal fireworks out of the family ice cream truck at the playground. Molly also might continue happily on as Molly and take to helping the 11 year old run the most insanely dangerous day care centers off all time out of her living room. I’m not kidding – just last episode the kids helped out trying to locate the buried aunt before the sewer authority came across her when doing upcoming maintenance. That’s actually what is going on in the picture with Molly on the right. I’ll keep watching, but with just a teensy bit more shame.

About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

13 responses »

  1. Really? The episode you are talking about also has women being forced to blow their boss, a baby being fed valium because he cries, sexual abuse. But no this..this is what you whine about

    • ‪noam‬‏

      All the other stuff that you mentioned are portrayed in a negative light. Nobody (I hope at least) watches the show, and thinks “Oh, how come I never considered giving drugs to babies. That’s a brilliant idea!”

      On the other hand, the portrayal of Molly does reinforce stereotypes about trans people. Her transness is blamed on her mother. Moreover, everyone in the show is treating her like a boy who doesn’t know that he’s a girl. I don’t see how to interpret it in a non-transphobic way.

  2. GenderfluidBabe

    I was a bit surprised when they took the introduction of Molly in that direction and will admit that i got pretty excited about them adding a trans character into the show. Fiona’s attitude was standoffish but also quite understandable as you had said. I truly hope that Molly continues on happily with whichever identity she or he wants to go with. Love your blog btw ^.^

    • GenderfluidBabe

      also Fiona wasn’t the only one to refer to Molly with male pronouns. Mandy did it as well when Fiona asked her how long she planned on keeping Molly at the Gallagher house

  3. Get over it. Shameless is hysterical!!!

  4. We are late to the party and just barely watching the series on Netflix. My girlfriend and I just got to this episode and We almost shut it off after this. I’m super disappointed that the writers didn’t take it in more positive direction. The misgendering is hard to listen to.

  5. Elliot Flecter is now on the show as Trevor and he has educated on people who are are Transgender, so the show has redeemed itself for me.

  6. It’s just a show let’s not get to wrapped up into our feelings, try not to over analyze something that you can turn off and not watch . Not everyone has to accept something they don’t agree with. Live your life cause you got a long way to go before you can’t do that anymore.

  7. I just came upon these episodes myself. I have loved this show but now I am starting to develop a severe hatred towards it…or the writers of it, rather… I’m so disgusted now that they’d allow such ignorance and transphobia to happen in regards to a child who so obviously identifies female. Cracked out mom or not… That mom did something right, it appears…

  8. I agree with you but I feel that if you wish to be taken seriously, you may want to refrain from saying things like “they come from the worst part of Chicago.” Some people might be bothered by your classism as much as you are bothered by the transphobia depicted on the show, yeah?

    • Hi Lesley! Well, you aren’t wrong. The last thing I want to come across as is classist, especially being no stranger to impoverished circumstances. I’m not so worried about being taken seriously, however, with my slapdash writing, mixed metaphors, and fun little exaggerations. 🙂

  9. An interesting post, really liked it 🙂 I didn’t know about this happening until it was posted on tumblr but you pretty much nailed the topic.


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