Despite the critical acclaim that Showtime's "Shameless" and its British forerunner have enjoyed, the American dramedy doesn't seem to generate a ton a buzz.

It certainly deserves to, though. The show is a perfect blend of black humor and tear-jerking drama, with a good smattering of petty crime, colorful language and the odd broken nose thrown in for good measure. At its heart, however, it's a show about family and the loyalty that that demands, no matter how rough things get — and in "Shameless," things get pretty rough. Catch a new episode of "Shameless" when it airs Sunday, Feb. 21, on Showtime.

The original "Shameless" ran for an impressive 11 seasons on Channel 4 in the U.K. and received critical acclaim, taking home the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series in its first season, as well as the award for Best TV Comedy Drama at the British Comedy Awards. Recreating foreign shows in American settings for American audiences can generate both hits ("The Office") and misses ("Gracepoint"), but "Shameless" transitioned seamlessly from working-class Manchester to Chicago's South Side.

The series follows the (often illegal) exploits of the dysfunctional and disorderly Gallagher family, whose six kids live paycheck to paycheck — or, perhaps more accurately, welfare check to welfare check — with a deadbeat father and an absentee mother.

The brilliance of the show is that none of its characters possess particularly admirable qualities, yet somehow they're likeable. The show handles some pretty heavy issues, and, on the surface, these peoples' lives are bleak and depressing, to say the least; most of the time, they're in pretty dire straits. Yet it still manages to be funny. The series is extremely well cast, and a lot can be said for delivering warmth and humor in serious situations.

The official head of the rowdy Gallagher clan is booze-addled, freeloading, remorseless, conniving patriarch Frank, played to absolute perfection by Emmy winner William H. Macy ("Fargo," 1996). The guy is the very definition of the word "bum"— he does everything he can to cheat the system, he relies entirely on the children he neglects in order to barely squeak by, he takes advantage of whomever he can, whenever he can.

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