I really didn't 'get' this show at first, it took a couple of episodes to see what they were trying to accomplish - and it was hilarious, provocative, poignant and in your face *all the time.* I loved the romance between James McAvoy and Anne-Marie Duff's characters and how chaotic everything was around them. Not how I want to live, but this show is absolutely based in reality, please know that some British (worldwide?) families do live like this, they're getting by the best way they know how and that's all there is to it.
They were so loveable, I couldn't help but enjoy the show and looked forward to every episode. I knew people who had grown up in similar circumstances and I think that's why it hit such a nerve in the UK, people could either see themselves being represented (for the first time on tv for an entire show) or were stunned that 'people actually lived like this.' I liked the former, disliked the latter group. The outrage amongst the newspapers was something to behold - how dare a show 'glamorise' this lifestyle. Well, sorry, but this is how some people live, no point in being an ostrich. Such an important show.
This sharp series telling the story of the Gallaghers is a very successful show. I have watched since the third season and still do because for the most part its a good one of a kind show.