Losing Emmy Rossum may be the death knell for Shameless.
Shameless Season 10, premiering tonight on Showtime, picks up some time after Emmy Rossum's Fiona skipped town to start a new life.
From the get-go, it's evident that the show has lost the glue that held it together since the series debuted.
When the series premiered, Fiona was the person caring for all of her siblings, but as the series progressed, they started looking after themselves.
Growing up in the South Side made all of these kids grow up faster than they should have.
Even if you felt like Fiona's storyline had run its course, every other storyline on Shameless Season 10 feels out of place without the eldest Gallagher being there to keep things moving.
The sad thing is that the more tedious storylines from Shameless Season 9 appear to be back to be dragged on for dear life. Rossum's exit should have allowed the series to evolve and take some risks, but it feels like the show that is going on without much purpose.
Emma Kenney's Debbie has essentially been promoted to the female lead, but the character proves to be one of the most selfish throughout the three episodes screened for critics in advance of the premiere.
Debbie is in control of the $50,000 her sister left behind for the family. While it initially appears as though she is doing the right thing with the money, we learn that she's putting it all at a great risk.
This storyline feels like a missed opportunity because Debbie was slowly but surely morphing into Fiona on Shameless Season 9.
Debbie had taken over as the head of the house, making sure that everyone was paying their way.
There's no question about whether she took it a bit far, but it would be nice to get some real progression for this character. In essence, Debbie has been going round in circles for the better part of the last five seasons.
Carl's storyline feels frustratingly familiar. It's essentially a rehash of Shameless Season 9, with some minor differences. Carl is one of the show's best characters, so it's a real shame that the character development for him has stalled.
Some time has passed to allow him to return home and be part of the narrative, but the teenager is still struggling to find his place in the world. He thought the military was the best place for him, but he's starting to wonder what else could be out there for him.
For that particular arc to have any emotional value, Carl should have tried to do something different, but instead, he returns to the fast food place he worked in before the military and continues to be aggressively pursued by his 40 something boss.
These scenes are particularly difficult to watch because Carl wants to make some money. The last thing he wants is to have to deal with this woman who is abusing her power.
Lip being a father is one of the strongest arcs on Shameless Season 10. Thanks to a twist of fate, he finds himself thrown into fatherhood at the deep end, and his reaction feels organic.
He's cared for his siblings in the past, but a newborn baby proves to be completely different for him.
The writers have crafted convincing material for him as he tries to be the best father around, while also worrying about how he is going to provide for his son.
Tami is still very much a part of the series, with Kate Miner scoring a promotion to series regular ahead of the season. Being a parent proves to change the state of her relationship with Lip now that they're bonded for life.
If you watch Shameless online, you know we witnessed them bicker like crazy, but their relationship is in a much better place now.
Tami is infinitely more likable than she was on Shameless Season 9. She's no longer cold as ice and that's a major positive.
Christian Isaiah is finally getting more meaningful storylines as Liam.
Liam is having a bit of an identity crisis after realizing that he's grew up in a white family, and he turns to V to help him understand what it's like to be a person of color.
This allows for some revelations about Frank and Monica's past, but it also puts Liam on an exciting path to finding out more about himself.
Liam's storylines of late have been used for comedic value, but this one feels like a rare one that could be one of the season's best if handled well.
Ian and Mickey are still very much in jail, and they face their fair share of hurdles throughout.
It would have been to say they lived happily ever after on the inside, but that's far from the case. Sharing a small cell that includes a very public lavatory causes a lot of problems for them.
Their love for each other still shines through, but it would be boring to watch them yelling at each other for the whole season.
The powers that be need to craft a convincing storyline to get them out of jail because they could be the season's saving grace.
After screening the first three episodes, it's clear that Shameless is a shell of its former self. Most of the storylines have been done before, and some of the characters have become excruciating to watch.
For the show to be a success again, it needs to zero in on the characters that matter. Some are being underutilized to the point they should be billed as series regulars.
Shameless airs Sundays at 10 on Showtime.
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.