After 11 seasons, Shameless is set to take its final bow in 2021, and while Showtime's family dramedy has put fans through the emotional wringer over the years, there is nothing else quite like it on TV right now. Not many shows are willing to get audacious as Shameless, for better or worse, and even if some plotlines have worked better than others (remember the whole Gay Jesus thing?), it's easy to understand why its legion of fans eagerly awaits every new episode.
Whether you love Shameless for its focus on its core family, its depiction of existence as a poor person in America, the jokes, the tears, or even if you're only checking in to see what happens to Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey's (Noel Fisher) relationship, this list has something every kind of fan will enjoy watching next. Here are 11 shows you should check out.
Did you know Shameless was originally based on a British show of the same name? Yup, there's a whole other unhinged Gallagher family in the U.K. you can acquaint yourself with. But aside from character names, their portrayals of poverty, and both shows having essentially identical first seasons, the British Shameless is very much its own separate animal. The series, which also ran for 11 seasons, is set in Manchester instead of Chicago, and takes its characters to places fans of the American adaptation probably wouldn't recognize; the character of Karen Jackson (played here by Rebecca Atkinson) is a much bigger, longer-lasting presence in this Shameless, while Fiona (Anne-Marie Duff) and Steve (a pre-international fame James McAvoy) depart after the second season. It's a completely different series that deals with completely different themes, but it was pretty highly acclaimed in the U.K. and is worth a watch for die-hard fans who are curious about the roots of Shameless. [Watch on Amazon, Hulu]
Toni Collette gives one of the best, and most underrated, performances of her career as Tara, a wife and mother with dissociative identity disorder who frequently transitions between her multiple personalities, which include a prim '50s housewife named Alice, a brash Vietnam war veteran named Buck, and a flirty teenager named T. The show is sensitive about Tara's increasing frustration with her alters and her complicated feelings about frequently losing and regaining control of her mind and body, as well as the impact it has on her family. There are echoes of both Frank (William H. Macy) and Monica (Chloe Webb) in Tara, and it's not hard to find parallels between the ways her kids, Kate (a pre-Marvel Brie Larson) and Marshall (Keir Gilchrist), struggle to balance their acceptance of their mother's condition with their desire for a "normal" family, and the ways the Gallaghers have learned to process their parents' failures over the years. [Watch on Amazon (with Showtime add-on), Hulu (with Showtime add-on), Showtime]
How rare it is to find a show that can out-shame Shameless, but It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia does a pretty excellent job. Following the daily lives of a morally bankrupt, self-absorbed, clinically insane, often irredeemable foursome who own and operate a bar in Philadelphia, Sunny is the kind of series that delights in refusing to let its characters grow as people. As a unit, the gang has only succeeded in becoming more narcissistic and clueless to the world around them as the seasons have stretched on. They continue to behave terribly and never learn from their mistakes… but in a really funny way, thanks to the beauty of the 30-minute sitcom format, which allows the show to blow itself up every week and reset the clock in the next episode. It's the highest form of escapist humor, like if the average person's id was in control of a long-running cable comedy. Once you accept that the Paddy's Pub crew make the Gallaghers look like law-abiding citizens, you'll have a great time. Also, both shows have garbage father figures named Frank, and the one in Sunny is played by Danny DeVito. What more could you ask for? [Watch on Hulu]
While Shameless has been rightfully criticized for its almost entirely white cast, despite being set in the largely Black South Side of Chicago, The Chi seeks to put a spotlight on the community Shameless tends to ignore. The show begins after a homicide shakes up a South Side neighborhood, telling a series of interconnected stories about how tragedy can unite people. It has character types that will feel familiar to any Shameless fan, from Kevin (Alex Hibbert), a pre-teen forced to grow up too quickly, to Jada (Yolanda Ross), a working mom struggling to figure out who she is beyond motherhood, to Emmett (Jacob Latimore), Jada's son who is about to become a teen dad. There's also a lot of heart in this show, and it tells really complex stories about identity, LGBTQ+ issues, and the American justice system with thoughtful sensitivity. [Watch on Amazon (with Showtime add-on), Hulu (with Showtime add-on), Showtime]
Before Orange Is the New Black, Jenji Kohan created Weeds, which makes sense in that it is also about people engaging in illegal activity. Mary-Louise Parker plays Nancy Botwin, a widowed mother who moonlights as a marijuana dealer in order to support her two sons. Before long, Nancy finds herself getting sucked deeper into the darkness of the criminal system, going to increasingly shocking lengths in order to keep herself out of trouble. Though the later seasons get pretty unwieldy, the earlier ones are pure gold, bursting with the same scrappy sensibility as Shameless. [Watch on Netflix]
I can only hope that one day we as a society give Six Feet Under the energy we give that other classic HBO drama about all those dudes in the mob. In any case, Alan Ball's series follows the lives of the Fisher family, who take over the Los Angeles funeral home that was left to them by their recently deceased father. You may or may not know that Six Feet Under is best remembered for its iconic series finale sequence, but most everything that happens before that is incredible too. The Fisher family is dysfunctional and troubled, and the show is unique for its willingness to have frank, complicated discussions about the many facets of dying and grief. Like Shameless, Six Feet Under is also interested in the idea that kids are doomed to become their parents, and the ways they struggle to fight against it in preservation of their own identities. Plus, for those of us who tune into each new episode of Shameless hoping to get another development in the enduring Ian/Mickey saga, Six Feet Under has its own version of that dynamic with David (Michael C. Hall) and Keith (Mathew St. Patrick), who have their own dramatic, long-term relationship that the show takes its time exploring. While you should probably know before going in that this one is pretty dark (each episode literally begins with a different death), don't let that deter you from watching. It's something special. [Watch on HBO Max]
Oh, to spend an hour inside Danny McBride's mind. The actor-comedian created, co-stars, writes, and directs this series about the Gemstones, an internationally famous televangelist family working to expand their network of megachurches. McBride plays Jesse, the pompous eldest son of Eli (John Goodman), lead pastor at the family's "Salvation Center," while Adam DeVine and Edi Patterson co-star as Jesse's younger siblings. Together, they're a maladjusted family unit, tightly knit out of necessity and working overtime to preserve their own best interests. The show is a great satire of the sinister undercurrent of televangelism, and it's full of McBride's specific brand of big, broad comedy, which anyone who delights in watching Frank's scheme of the week on Shameless will surely appreciate. [Watch on HBO Max]
Succession dares to ask the question, "What if Shameless, but rich?" The pitch black dramedy centers on the Roy family, who begin to wonder what will happen with their aging patriarch, Logan (Brian Cox), steps down as CEO of his billion-dollar media company. There is so much hilarious dysfunction on Succession, a true comedy of errors that also expertly deals with intense themes like addiction and murder. Every character is involved in a power struggle with a different character and no one is afraid of stabbing someone else in the back to get ahead, but it must be said that the most fun part of the show is its twisted family dynamics. Considering the clashing personality types at play — from miserable, power-hungry Kendall (Jeremy Strong) to cocky, immature Roman (Kieran Culkin) to cold, calculating Shiv (Sarah Snook) — it's not hard to understand why it's inspired so many memes. Sometimes it's just fun to watch bad people behave badly, when it's all happening within the context of a fictional TV show. [Watch on HBO Max]
You're the Worst begins by mining familiar rom-com territory — a man and a woman meet at a wedding and have what they both believe to be a one-night stand, which obviously becomes something more — and though it eventually grows into a thoughtful exploration of relationships, its premise isn't what will feel familiar to Shameless fans. In case the show's title wasn't enough of an indication, the characters on this show are generally pretty terrible — episodes find them cheating on partners, stealing property, stabbing their spouses, and being relentlessly mean to each other — but You're the Worst is good about never letting them off the hook for it, and it makes sure they're always evolving. Where Shameless is interested in the ways damaged people can regress into familiar behaviors if they don't receive the proper help, You're the Worst finds comfort in the idea that damaged people can change for the better, so long as they're given the right tools to do it. With issues that range from Gretchen's (Aya Cash) seasons-long battle with mental illness to Edgar's (Desmin Borges) post-war PTSD, You're the Worst says that the road to healing is never easy or finished, but it is possible. [Watch on Hulu]
The premise of Good Girls kind of sounds like a scrapped Shameless plotline: Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman, and Retta star as three working-class suburban moms exhausted by the never-ending struggle to make ends meet who decide to take control of their lives by robbing a local grocery store. They pull it off, but that's not the end of the story. It's the aftermath of the crime that Good Girls is interested in, and the different ways the women react to it, such as Beth's (Hendricks) realization that life as a criminal is preferable to life as a mother struggling to pay the bills. The desperate ways the trio attempt to keep their involvement in the heist a secret are like mini callbacks to the earlier, sillier days of Shameless, like when Debbie (Emma Kenney) was still stealing neighborhood babies and Frank was escaping debts by forcing his kids to throw him fake funerals. Good Girls is the kind of show that gets more fun to watch as the characters get in more trouble, so buckle up. [Watch on Netflix]
In many ways, Bridgette Bird (Frankie Shaw) is kind of like the spiritual, Bostonian soul sister to Fiona Gallagher (Emmy Rossum). SMILF is all about the daily twists and turns of Bridgette's life as a young single mom working to secure a better life for her son. Like Fiona, that typically results in Bridgette becoming involved in ridiculous schemes, failing constantly, and, more often than not, finding herself torn between her own needs and the needs of her kid. SMILF shares so much gritty DNA with Shameless, and it's the kind of refreshing watch that sugarcoats nothing about the harder aspects of motherhood. [Watch on Amazon (with Showtime add-on), Showtime]