Ramianne is a TV show & movie enthusiastic who loves to reflect on characters and stories. She is particularly character-driven. She/her
Why is Fiona Gallagher... Fiona Gallagher? What could explain that she became this person that saved her siblings from complete chaos? Nothing, as far as we know. And that is why Fiona Gallagher is, in herself, a little miracle.
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Who Is Fiona Gallagher?
Shameless (US) is, for those who wouldn't know, about a family—the Gallaghers—living on the Southside of Chicago and of which we follow the daily adventures and other mishaps in a context of poverty and criminality. Two parents - one of whom has left, the other being an abusing, alcoholic, drug addict profiteer - and six children compose this (not so) lovely American family. And today, I focus on the oldest sibling, Fiona Gallagher who, as best described by her father in the first seconds of the pilot, is the rock of the family.
But who is she? Her fandom wiki describes her as "a true South Side girl: she's scrappy, resourceful, and not afraid to get into a fight." Basically, she's definitely not a Saint - and far from me is the idea to defend that vision of her. She has very poor self-esteem, falls easily into dangerous situations, has a fear of abandonment and some alcohol issues; but she also cares for the people that are close to her, has morals and principles that she commits to, fights for what she believes is right, will do anything for her family and friends, and is willing to give everything she has if it means her family can live better—even if it means sacrificing herself.
What I would like to show in this article is how her story, her context and her personality make her what I call a little miracle. Now I would like to clarify that by "miracle" I do not understand any religious concept—even though the term in itself is one. By "miracle" I understand a phenomenon that is unexplainable by any logical and rational reasons. In religion, an irrational phenomenon is explained by divine intervention, but as an agnostic, I am skittish about this notion. I much prefer the idea that there are things that we just can't explain, that still happen, and it is because they are unexplainable by any reason that they are so fascinating.
And Fiona Gallagher is one of the most fascinating and inspiring characters on TV.
The mother of her siblings
I was nine! Nine, and taking care of you. Taking care of all of us. I was in fourth grade, dragging your ass passed out in front of the yard so you wouldn't freeze to death. Staying up all night with Ian when he had chicken pox; I washed Carl's shitty diapers; I picked lice out of Liam's hair; and I was here when Debbie got her first period; not Monica; me.
— Fiona Gallagher to her father Frank Gallagher, Shameless (US) season 7 episode 12
The Mother of Her Siblings
Fiona Gallagher is 21 when we meet her in season 1, and is in essence a mom to her five younger siblings, a role that she has endorsed since she was at least 9, although she has taken care of her two brothers Lip and Ian since before that—she explains in season 3 episode 7 that she took care of them when she was as young as 6. She gave them a motherly love, took care of each one of them, implemented healthy rules for them to follow—brush your teeth, go to sleep at a decent hour, do your homework—and taught them the importance to commit and take responsibility for what they do. She gave them a sense of familial structure, provided them parental love and care, and portrayed the values and principles that they would then also acquire and follow.
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Now if we look at any of the Gallagher siblings, they all have the virtues, principles and qualities that Fiona has: they fight for justice and respect, they take responsibility for what they do, they love unconditionally and fight for those they love. Granted, they're not perfect either, and they're still very much unstable, all of them: Lip becomes an alcoholic even though he tries with all he has not to be like his father; Ian has a history of getting into abusive relationships (yes, even Gallavich, even though I love them with all my heart); Debbie rapes a guy she's attracted to and then believes being a teen mom is a good thing; Carl has serious issues with violence and harassment; and Liam doesn't think he belongs anywhere and wanders around trying to find mentors. Fiona can't replace all of the parental love and care they all need; it's just impossible, and she has her own issues to deal with. But it is clear that the Gallaghers would be ten times more unstable and unhealthy if Fiona hadn't been here.