After airing for over 6 years now, Shameless has definitely built itself a cult following, similar to other shows like Breaking Bad and Walking Dead. It’s been hailed as one of the best comedy dramas on TV, and it’s actually a remake of the British version that aired in the UK. The show has received several different awards, from the Screen Actors Guild awards, to the BMI Film & TV awards , and the Emmys. Even the ratings for the first pilot episode scored big with almost 1 million viewers. That’s huge, because it was Showtime’s biggest turn out for any pilot episode since the show Dead Like Me back in 2003.
Although the first episode was filmed way back in December 2009, it only hit airwaves in 2011, but the show quickly gained a huge following and is what it is today. Of course, the UK and US versions are quite different from each other, especially as you get into the later seasons of the show, with both having differentiating story lines and plots.
It’s honestly amazing when you find out how little you actually know about a show or a movie until you really sit down and read the trivia and behind the scenes things that happen. There’s so much more that happens off camera than you can ever imagine, and things that take place on camera only count for a small portion of the time the cast and crew are stuck together!
These top 15 trivia facts about Shameless will really delve behind the scenes of the show, and give you more perspective about some shocking facts you never knew, and give you an inside look at some of your favorite characters.
15. Patsy’s Pub & Grill
Believe it or not, the diner where Fiona works during part of the series is an actual existing location in Chicago. It doesn’t have the same name as Patsy’s Pies, but instead is an actual pub and grill called Patsy’s. The place itself is actually located in downtown Chicago on a road called Lincoln Avenue.
Yes, fans of the show are allowed to go there and visit and hang out. Getting to walk on to an on-screen location is always one of those things where you think to yourself in amazement “Wow! They shot that scene here!” It’s always fun to go through. If you’re ever in Chicago, give yourself some extra time and go check out the Patsy Pub & Grill for yourself! Remember that many shows and films will use locations for a fictional place, or base a fictional place off a real place. Then of course, you can say you actually got to visit one of the set of Shameless!
14. Comfortable In Your Skin
Well, it seems like Emmy Rossum loves playing Fiona. Emmy has said on several occasions that she really likes playing Fiona because the character is so much like her. She can feel the character more because she also has a knack for wanting to take care of everyone else around her. She also said that she just loves the carefree attitude the character Fiona has. Obviously Rossum was a great pick for this role because she feels so comfortable in her own skin when she’s acting and on screen. It makes for a much better performance because it’s so much more natural and involves less acting.
In fact, with Fiona not being all glammed up, it has really saved the actress a lot of time on set, and she loves not having to be doused in makeup for every shoot that they do. It saved production money as well as time.
13. The Real Life Couple
Don’t you love it when they take things or situations from real life and put them in a film, or show as if they’re fictional? There are many movies and shows that do this, show you an actual location, thing, or person that you think is fictional because it’s happening in a show or movie, but turns out to be an actual real thing/person/place. It’s actually like how a lot of movie stars end up hooking up and getting together in real life after filming together. Take Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson from Twilight, and how they actually dated in real life for quite some time.
On Shameless, the onscreen couple Mandy and Lip (Emma Greenwell and Jeremy Allen White) are actually a real life couple. Interesting enough, they started dating because they met through the show back in 2011 when Emma Greenwell joined the cast to replace Jane Levy, who previously played Mandy.
12. A Sense Of Familiarity
Since the Gallaghers are your typical, white trash, dysfunctional family in America, they could have done different things with the setting of the show. Instead, the producers felt it would be best to stick them in a plain house in Chicago. The reason why they chose to do this over a trailer park, or anything else that might seem to fit better, is because they wanted to give you that sense of familiarity, as if you were their next door neighbor. It makes it feel so much more troublesome, like they’re right at your back door.
They wanted their audience to feel like the sense of poverty is much worse and more surprising when it comes to this family. The choice creates for an interesting dynamic for the show, considering things would be much more conventional if they had just stuck the family in a run-down trailer park.
11. The Pool
Something that’s common in the world of filming is reusing the same areas, cities, or sets for other shows and films. A good example of this is the pool that Fiona and Steve go skinny dipping in, which occurs sometime in season 1. This same pool was actually used in the movie Cruel Intentions, and is located in Los Angeles at the Biltmore Hotel.
It shouldn’t be surprising that much of Los Angeles and New York (two of the biggest cities in the USA) are most commonly used for filming. With so much to offer to production crews, these 2 cities have been at the epicenter of so many Hollywood movies and film. There’s a reason there are a lot of movies and TV shows with scenes shot from New York and Los Angeles alone. Not to mention, most big productions are done right out of Los Angeles, so it only makes sense to save travel money and film close to your location.
10. Lights, Camera… and No Script?
Shameless is clearly a little bit different than your normal run of the mill show, but for this show, the production crew and director are extremely insistent that all the actors know their lines by heart and can recite them without any script, because scripts are banned from the set. Most shows rely heavily on the actors going over the script between takes, and just in general while filming as remembering all the lines can sometimes be too much.
The actors here have to remember every line by heart as they shoot their scenes without any guidance or help from a script. You just have to know your parts and your lines. It certainly takes a lot of skill as an actor to do this.
9. A Whole New Fiona
Initially, in the original rough draft of Shameless, the character Fiona had a much different look going on for her. For the first few drafts of the pilot episode, the role they originally wrote for Fiona was your typical, overweight blonde girl with a sassy white trash attitude. This later changed when they ended up casting Emmy Rossum instead, who has dark hair, and is very slender, a much different build and look than they originally set out for.
It’s an example of how in Hollywood, actors can fit a part so well, that they change the original idea of what a character is supposed look like. They must’ve felt she fit the part better and decided to tailor the character to the actor instead of the other way around.
8. The Shameless, The UK Version?
The British version of Shameless features things a little bit differently. Out of all 138 episodes that exist for the show, Fiona only appears in a staggering 19 of them, which makes her character much more minuscule and irrelevant. Emmy Rossum gets so much more screen time for her character in the US version, which many seem to prefer over the UK version. It’s interesting that there’s such a different dynamic between different versions of shows. The original UK version of Shameless actually began airing in January of 2004, and wasn’t adapted to a US version until 5 years later.
Since the UK version of the show came first, the US show is somewhat loosely based off of that. Of course, later on in the series in the US version, the show gets a little more originality to it, and doesn’t seem like just a rip off of the UK version. Both shows have entirely different feels, and many Shameless fans to prefer one over the other. Even though the UK version stopped running back in 2013, the US version is still going, and many fans feel it captures the true essence of the struggling middle class better than the UK version.
Actor Justin Chatwin, who plays Steve/Jimmy on Shameless, got pranked pretty good by Emmy Rossum. She somehow talked the writers of that show into writing and giving Chatwin an extra (fake) scene in which he confesses his homosexuality to his dad. He had once played a gay character with a homophobic father on the show Weeds.
It wasn’t clear if the part was set for shooting, or if they had just discussed the role with Chatwin before hand. Either way, Chatwin was really embracing the idea of his character being homosexual and was totally into the idea of it. He felt he wanted to embrace his character and really bring that quality out of him.
6. Pranked AGAIN!
In an AMA on Reddit in 2013, Rossum spoke out and gave her fans a hilarious insight into her life and career. She shared lots of fun anecdotes from behind the scenes of Shameless. One included a time when the other cast members had actually placed a sign on her dressing room trailer that said “public restroom.” They were out to prank her hard.
During the course of shooting, I guess the sign had been on her trailer for some time without her actually knowing. There had actually been several different people coming into the trailer unknowingly to use the restroom. It’s unclear how long it took Rossum to eventually find out.
5. Two Pilots, One Director
Fun fact: director Mark Mylod actually took a stab at directing both pilot episodes for the US version and the UK version. This is unusual because usually there’s different production crews and actors that work in separate versions of the show. He himself is British. It wouldn’t be until later on when he would appear again and help out in the production and direct a few episodes for both versions. For those that are unaware, Mark Mylod also happens to direct episodes of Game of Thrones, too.
The current director, John Wells, also has his hand in much of the executive work that goes into the production of the show. Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy have also had a hand in directing episodes for the show, which is really cool to see actors step out of playing a character and doing more production work for the show.
4. What Happened To Woody Harrelson?
Most people didn’t actually know about this, but Woody Harrelson was actually supposed to star in the show. He had gotten cast on the show when it was supposed to air on NBC, but the air date for the pilot kept getting pushed back later and later. Eventually he starred in Zombieland, and once that movie was released, Woody dropped out of the project altogether.
It’s not entirely clear if he’ll end up returning. There have been fan rumors and speculation that the creators will end up bringing him on the show when he can fit it into his schedule. I’m not sure if Woody has any interest in coming back or if he even has the time between his shoots, but I think it would be really cool to see him in the show!
3. Two Deaths At Once
Over the course of the show, they shot an episode where Fiona’s mother ends up passing away. It just so happens, in that exact same week, her real life grandmother with whom she was fairly close to, also passed away. She said that it had quite the affect on her during the shoot, and made filming some scenes unbearable.
As sad as it is, I’m sure it ended up giving Rossum the ability to give so much more into her acting for that scene. It’s always important for actors when they have a really demanding scene to draw that intense energy from a memory or thought they can relate to to really portray the character’s emotion. Shooting probably just intensified those visceral emotions of sorrow.
2. The Onion Kiss
So we get that there’s obviously a lot of fun and pranking on the set of Shameless.
Generally, with a lot of movies and productions, the cast is always joking around and pranking to some extent. You’re hanging around a lot, standing around a lot, bored with nothing to do unless you’re rehearsing your lines. Obviously, the more jokers you got in the cast, you can expect some things to happen without you ever knowing. Not surprisingly at all considering the cast members themselves are all funny people. One joke that seems to be a running gag for the Shameless crew is that Chatwin would always eat really strong smelling food before intimate scenes with Rossum.
1. Not Where You Think It Is
As with most films and TV shows, most scenes are never shot where they are actually supposed to be taking place. Generally, it’s mostly made up towns and cities based on real areas. This show is said to take place in the Chicago neighborhood called Canaryville. However, much of this show wasn’t filmed there at all. The majority of everything you see on film is shot in a studio or on set in California. It’s amazing what they can create to make you believe and feel like you’re somewhere else.
The Gallagher house itself is located in Chicago, though. The production team ended up going to Chicago a few times a year to get extra footage of the city, and exterior shots that they wanted updated.