As the latest season of Shameless nears its conclusion, they’re working extra hard to make sure no Christians will be watching next year. In the January 14 episode, titled “Church of Gay Jesus,” Ian (Cameron Monaghan) finds that he is getting more and more famous for being a guy who will “just kind of show up to these [gay] conversion things and argue with assholes,” and his dad Frank (William H. Macy) decides to cash in.
At first, Ian is discomfited by people waiting outside of his place of work as a paramedic to talk to him. A young girl gives him a drawing she made, and people ask him about his “ministry.” A few days later, Ian has a group of young gay Christians meet at his house and is speaking with them, when his brother’s girlfriend makes the offhanded comment to Frank, “He’s like a prophet. And he’s super hot, too. Like hot gay Jesus.”
Frank, always looking for a way to make a quick buck while doing the absolute minimum in terms of work, says, “Bet we can make money off of that…Ring the right bell for the right causes, the guilt-ridden pry open their wallets. It’s Pavlovian. Righteousness is very marketable.”
The next thing you know, he’s recruited the youngest Gallagher sibling, Liam (Brenden Sims), into helping him, and they’re off.
Ian: The fuck is this, Frank?
Frank: Son, I don’t think I’ve articulated how impressed I am with your recent endeavors. I knew you were talented, but, uh…
Ian: “The Church of Gay Jesus.” Is this a jumbo shirt?
Frank: To reach the masses, you’ve got to embrace merchandising to take your brand to the next level. Uh, how about T-shirts proudly displaying your message?
Ian: Well, I don’t have a church. And I’m not fuckin’ Jesus.
Frank: Tongue in cheek, son. When you repurpose an iconic logo for the sake of kitsch, you present an ironic critique of American consumerism. And if that logo just happens to resemble a giant, throbbing penis, what could be more counterculture?
Ian: It looks like a hot dog. And the lettering sucks.
Frank: Revolutions don’t come wrapped in a cute ribbon. You want to bring down power structures? You want to get in the face of people who are peddling corroded ideals? You need a uniform that screams authenticity. We didn’t pay Chinese factory orphans three cents an hour to make these. No, this is our living room. Our hands. Our sweat. Talk about grassroots.
While Ian speaks to Christians and reads Bible verses, he himself says that he doesn’t have a ministry, let alone his own church. He definitely isn’t Jesus, and then the show goes the extra step of suggesting, even as a joke, that Jesus was gay. Frank uses this trifecta of offensiveness to sell a t-shirt with a logo that he hopes resembles “a giant throbbing penis,” just in case any Christian, or any person of good conscience, really, was not yet completely disgusted.
What does this prove to anyone? What is the point?
Ian finally agrees to the scheme if Frank will give the majority of the profits to the shelter for LGBTQI youth where he volunteers. Later, when Ian is invited to speak in a church, he makes the point that “God hates haters.” Christianity teaches that God is love, so that statement is certainly true, and Ian believes that what he’s doing is right. So why is he letting Frank profit off of mocking Jesus?
While Ian is trying to save kids from conversion therapy, which the left is obsessed with lately, his sister Debbie (Emma Kenney) is trying to make money for school by working at night as a welder (she works hard for the money!) The reason the job pays so much is because it’s non-union work and, although she has concerns that “we’re screwing over a union we want to join someday” those concerns quickly disappear when she sees how much money she can make doing non-union work.
Shameless takes place in Chicago, which is too bad for Debbie. If she lived in any of the states surrounding Illinois, she’d be in a right-to-work state and get to decide for herself if she wanted to join a union or not. Unfortunately, but typically, Illinois is an island of union strength in the region. Maybe Debbie can try skipping over to Indiana for work. It seems like they may be setting her up to learn a very important lesson on the importance of unions (so they will say, anyway) but they’re almost out of episodes to squeeze that in.
I hope the Shameless writers are taking a nice break before writing the next season, because it has to be exhausting fitting this much nonsense into each episode.
This post originally appeared on NewsBusters