I be a good righter.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Am Shameless Or: How I Dated Frank Gallagher For One Night

The other night I was at a local dive bar. Not unlike any other night, really. On this night, however, it was totally dead. It was me, a friend, the bartender, and a couple of extremely drunk girls who were in town visiting from... out of town, presumably.

My friend and I got around to talking about "Shameless" in between various Britney Spears/Lady Gaga/Journey tunes (jukebox choices from the drunken, (now) drunkenly dancing girls). I mentioned that I'd been thinking about speccing the show, but couldn't seem to come up with an episode idea that fit within the world of the show. I don't have a million brothers and sisters, I've never had to scrape that hard for money, I've never been very good at coming up with schemes for getting money. Probably because I've never had to scrape that hard for money...

In this blog, I've talked about how I fancy myself a method writer. I used to be a method actor. Or that's what I was taught when I was in college, as theater is what I originally studied. Turns out, I was a horrible actor. I had had my suspicions that I sucked, but the point was really hammered home one opening night when, after my non-stellar performance, my boyfriend at the time met me in the dressing room with a dozen roses and a book on how to become a stage manager... we're no longer together, obvs.


Because I was taught method acting, that's somehow seeped into my writing. I like to immerse myself in the worlds of the shows I'm speccing. Or, if I'm writing a pilot, immerse myself in worlds that are similar to the pilot I'm writing. So, it's probably fitting that I was at a bar that's reminiscent of The Alibi Room on Shameless. And it's fitting that I'm friends with the Kevin-like bartender. And that I happened to be there with another writer.

I started talking about the aspects of the show that I like. How Frank does this, how Fiona reacts that way... and slowly a story idea started emerging. We ordered more drinks, and I started writing notes. Would Lip really do something like this? Where's Deb?

I watched the drunken girls at the end of the bar as though I was Frank. What would he see watching them? Would he notice their watches? Where they placed their purses? If they paid in cash or by card? What did he need and what could he get out of them?

I ordered my friend and me some more drinks and went out to smoke. One of the drunken girls had just come in, she'd left her purse out there. What would Frank do? We know what Fiona would do, as there was an entire episode revolving around her finding a purse on the El. So, what would Ian do? Or Karen?

What I did was return the purse immediately, and then returned outside to smoke and think and plot. The drunken girl followed me out and bummed a smoke. She asked me what I was doing. I had my notebook in my hand. I told her I was thinking about Frank. She surmised that Frank was my boyfriend. I guess, in her world, people think about their boyfriends outside bars and write about them in their notebooks when they're out for a smoke...


For the time being, I suppose Frank is my boyfriend. So I went with it. I told her about how I worry about how much he drinks. I worry about our future together, as I'm old-fashioned and would like to think that he'd be able to take care of me financially. And how I'm not sure that he can.

She asked if I love him. I suppose that I do, I told her, I can see the good in him. He loves his mother. He seems to love his kids, in a really fucked up way. She asked me a bit about that. And asked if I wanted to have kids with him. I told her that I felt like his six kids was enough for us to handle. She nodded, she understood.

As we stubbed out our smokes, she told me she was rooting for me and Frank. She hoped that it would lead to something important and real. Because I'd told her that, at times, it felt like he wasn't real and was just a character on a TV show -- she totally got that. She's been there, she said.

In the end, she helped me see parts of Frank that I probably wouldn't have seen. I felt it was probably the most interesting way I've ever looked at a character. And I ended up with a very interesting beat sheet by the end of the evening.

And a not-so-interesting hangover the next morning...


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