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How Shameless Season 11 Completely Changed After COVID Pandemic Hit

Shameless Cameron Monaghan

Shameless returns to Showtime for its final season soon, and as was the case with many shows this past year, the series was impacted by COVID-19. In fact, the novel coronavirus ended up influencing the final season in a major way, but not just because of the production shutdowns. Instead, the writers went back into what they had written and made sure that the pandemic was factored into the plot.

Executive producer John Wells spoke with TVLine about Season 11 of Shameless, and the decision to make COVID-19 a part of the final season. Wells spoke about the necessity of factoring the pandemic of 2020 into the series, and how it impacted the work that was done on the series ahead of the decision.

We decided it would really be impossible to not deal with the current issues in Shameless. We’d written an awful lot of the episodes. We went back and put them into the world that we’re experiencing now. So that changed a lot in the storytelling. [Season 11 is now] dealing with how many jobs have been lost and how much tougher it’s gotten for people who are already barely hanging on — and trying to make it funny.

Shameless removed or re-worked a chunk of what it had planned for Season 11, and made sure it covered COVID-19 in a way that only the Gallagher family can. It's certainly a bold decision for the final season, but John Wells added that it seemed like a series that is "a ribald satire about public policy" wouldn't be doing things right by sidestepping the pandemic.

As an example of how the Gallaghers do lockdown, John Wells mentioned that Shameless viewers will be seeing Frank without a mask while other characters are wearing them. This is tied to the character's "libertarianism" which apparently convinced Frank to believe the COVID-19 crisis is more or less some kind of plot. Wells also hinted that it's hard to read exactly whether or not the character truly believes that, or he's just trying to get others around him worked up.

Shameless Season 11 also intends to showcase the impact COVID-19 had on already struggling families, and how a pandemic and shutdowns took jobs from people who really needed the money. Of course, it's also still going to use its signature brand of humor, so expect the Showtime series to also find a way to laugh at what a miserable year 2020 has been for many.

Shameless' final season premieres on Showtime Sunday, December 6 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for more on the series during its final run, and for more news happening in television and movies now and in the coming weeks.

Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.