The ‘Shameless’ Gallaghers Are More Relatable Than Ever Going Into Season 9

Carl: Emerging From A Fiery Circle Of Young Marriage Hell


Beginning with the series’ first moments, in which Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) melted action figures in the microwave, viewers caught wind of his nihilistic tendencies. He soon dealt drugs and sold guns, but after a stint in the juvenile justice system, Carl emerged and surprised everyone by changing his ways. Instrumental in that shift was his gleeful immersion in military school, where he found the structure that he craved, and he was so thrilled to belong to something, anything, that he took the role seriously even on home breaks, continuing to wear his boots and uniform pants in the Gallagher household. He also referred to himself as “Corporal Carl,” but it all went to hell when he met Kassidi.

Kassidi, a minor, pushed Carl into marriage by faking a suicide attempt. She cut up his military uniforms and handcuffed him to the bed when he was due to return to school, all because she couldn’t bear to be alone. Even Lip gained perspective on his own situation while listening to Carl and Kassidi’s fights.

To be certain, the utterly deranged Kassidi functions as a severe, blood-vial-wearing exaggeration of a borderline-personality stereotype, which is likely offensive to some but serves to highlight Carl’s own issues. That is to say, he accepted her disrespect for boundaries and allowed his entire future to circle the drain because — in his words — “I can’t lose her … no one’s ever loved me this hard.” To which Fiona (who has no room to talk) answered, “She’s a f*cking psycho.” Yes, she is.

Can Carl Escape Hurricane Kassidi? Carl managed to end the season by sneaking away from a screaming Kassidi and returning to military school while she chased his bus down the street. So, he’s broken free for now, and perhaps he’s had enough of her batsh*t antics, but given the patterns established by the rest of the Gallaghers, we likely haven’t seen the end of Carl’s marriage, which could one day even spawn a spinoff series and dysfunctional family on its own. Still, it’s reasonable that assume while Kassidi could show up and set fire to Carl’s school, she could also divorce him and find a new target. And that might be his best hope for a healthy future.

Season nine of Shameless arrives on Showtime on Sept. 9.