'Shameless' Review: Assessing the Adventures of Showtime's Wild Gallagher Clan

'Shameless' (10PM ET Sunday, Showtime) is hard to categorize, and that's just one of the things that makes this promising drama a risky endeavor.

Showtime is betting that people who shell out for premium cable will want to watch the story of a poor family struggling to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors, and that's a big bet.

There's nothing aspirational about the lifestyle of the Gallagher clan; viewers won't be getting a glimpse of an exotic or somehow enviable way of life (hey, even Dexter gets to live in Miami). As is the case with most meaty cable dramas, there doesn't appear to be a substantial season-long arc building in the first season. The stories that keep things perking along -- and 'Shameless' certainly isn't short of energy -- involve the scams and dodges that somehow put food on the table one day at a time.

Despite all that, 'Shameless' may be a keeper. The performances by William H. Macy as unapologetic drunk Frank Gallagher, Emmy Rossum as his eldest child, Fiona, and Joan Cusack as an eccentric neighbor are richly rewarding, and the show's British creator, Paul Abbott, and American adaptor, John Wells, have made sure of one thing: This isn't a tale full of woe and sorrow.

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