Shameless Season 1, Episode 1
By analysing how producers construct representations of the working class in the first five-six minutes, including the opening credits of the Shameless episode, the opening begins with an ‘establishing shot’ showing high rise flats, signifying that the characters might be residents in the building. It is noticeable that the flats are simply a part of a housing estate, which provides the audience with evidence referring to the ‘social classes’ of citizens that the programme will be depicting. Due to the way that we have been raised and brought up in society, we have been made to believe that housing estates are rough, damaged areas which consist of either working or lower class residents, which this programme certainly illustrates. The camera shots leading on from the opening scene, includes ‘close ups’ of each building on the estate before focusing on one in particular where only the windows are seen. The next shot is an ‘extreme high angle shot’ or an ‘extreme aerial shot’ of what seems to resemble a child’s playground with children playing inside, as well as a grass area with terraced houses surrounding it. In the subsequent shot, one of the main characters, Frank begins to narrate and discuss his children; one is seen being held by the corner of his jacket, before Frank is hit over the head with a loaf of bread by one of his children. We are then provided with a ‘point of view shot’ that illustrates Frank being stood over by his children as he lies on the floor unconscious. As soon as Frank makes a grunting noise, his children are depicted running away immediately.
Subsequently, Frank begins to mention his six children, starting with the eldest in the family, Fiona. Frank explains how he views Fiona as a mother figure to the remainder of his children as she is a “big help,” where she is seen looking after the youngest children in the family. One of the children are seen learning how to put on a condom which suggests that he has hit his pubescent period and is becoming sexually active, whilst Franks other child is shown running around as he is compared to his absence mother. His child Karl is seen riding on his bike acting violently as he is shown barking and crawling around as if he were a dog. Debbie however is originally portrayed as being an “angel,” but in the next shot she is depicted holding a rolling pin and a knife, allowing the audience to assume that she can be both good and bad at times. The following shot highlights Debbie’s good behaviour as she carries out the folded laundry in her hands. The last child mentioned is Liam who is the youngest in the family, the toddler, and is described as being a mini “Rock and Roller.”
The next shot exemplifies the flats in the evening, as the camera slowly begins to pan downwards as we see people surrounding a car which has been set alight, assuming that these are the residents who live in the housing estate. Frank refers to them as a “half descent community” which illustrates to the audience that the community are exceedingly close to one another and that each individual living on the estate is important to them. While the community surround the burning car, Frank is shown smoking and drinking beer. Clearly, the director has incorporated characters that resemble ‘stereotypes’ of people who currently live in housing estates, as well as their lifestyle and appearance. However, this may be an unreasonable representation of either working or lower class families who live in housing estates. In the subsequent shot, a numerous amount of residents are illustrated throwing their beer cans into the fire which slowly begins to intensify the flames, before laughing and enjoying one another’s company ahead of the police arriving. It is this behaviour which allows the audience to question whether these actions support the ‘stereotypical’ view.
Overall, the opening scene focuses on both the working and lower class residents who currently live on the housing estate. Shameless, represents a working class family which could be aimed at a target audience of the working class as they would be able to relate to the situations that appear throughout the series. However, not all working class families may feel that they can relate to the programme, but some may watch it due to its high level of realism. Some audiences may empathise and sympathise with the characters, as they think about how these people are happy with their lives and who they are as an individual and as a community. This show seems to be aimed at an audience who is either male or female and with any ethnicity.