The One Shame in "Shameless;" Lori Perkins on Feminism: We Love Jenni

Tony and I have been catching up on episodes of “Shameless,” because we missed a few while catching up for the last three weeks on Season One and Two of “Downton Abbey.” And one thing is for sure, after coming from nothing but the fantastical world of “Downton Abbey,” to watching back to back episodes of “Shameless,” is an intense experience.

Last night we watched the Gallaghers and those close to them drink to excess, do drugs, sell drugs, dig for dead bodies, and yet show the kind of love that most TV shows lack. It’s often twisted, and yet balanced with characters like Fiona who is probably one of the best examples of modern feminism around today. They even get into some of the kinkier aspects of sexual exploration. And they even topped my erotic novels with one scene where the neighbor has sex with his wife’s mother in order to have a child…while having sex with his mother-in-law in the same room with his wife. Now THAT’S not something you see on TV often. Imagine Ricky Ricardo having sex with Mrs. McGillicuddy.

In any event, I often wonder if the writers and producers plan things ahead of time. The title of the show, “Shameless,” really does cover it all. Most of the characters are shameless in almost every respect. But I found it interesting last night when I noticed that the one shame still around is being gay.

Don’t get me wrong. “Shameless” handles LGBT characters better than most TV shows. They break a lot of the stereotypes and the gay men are the kind of gay men we don’t see often on TV. And yet the shame is still there, as if looming over the gay characters just as it looms over gay men in real life. For example, in one recent episode Ian who is openly gay is fooling around with Mickey who isn’t openly gay. One thing leads to another and Mickey’s homophobic father catches Ian and Mickey together and he goes ballistic. After the father pistol whips Mickey and beats him to a bloody pulp, he then phones a female prostitute. When she arrives he tells her to fuck the gay out of his son. And we see Mickey do just that, all in order to prove to his idiot father that he’s not gay and he likes screwing women.

And if you think that kind of thing doesn’t still happen in real life today you are sadly mistaken. Ian and Mickey are two excellent examples of how some gay men have to live and survive in the world. And that’s because that same brand of shame that has been following us around for years is still there.

Lori Perkins on Feminism: We Love Jenni:

New publisher Riverdale Ave Books just released a non-fiction book about the life of Jenni Rivera.

From Amazon:

“We Love Jenni,” is a frank and revealing biography of the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera written by The New York Times best-selling author Marc Shapiro and journalist Charles Vazquez that goes behind the scenes to tell the riveting story of the iconic Latina, who was killed last December 9th in a plane crash in Mexico.

Shapiro, author of popular biographies of celebrities such as J. K. Rowling and Justin Bieber, says the book tells the story of a woman “who never shied away from any of the huge problems she faced in life – her rough and tumble childhood, her cheating husband, her first love who in reality was a child molesting monster, her son’s indiscretion with an underage girl and so much more.

I will most likely read and review this one. I love to read bios like this because I write fiction all day and sometimes it’s nice to take a break from fiction when reading for pleasure. But I would also like to post a few comments from Lori Perkins about Rivera and feminism, followed by a few of my own and how I feel about feminism.

From Goodreads:

I came of age in the feminist era, and still live by the feminist adage, “the personal is political.” It has been my guiding mantra.

It is also the reason why I wanted to publish WE LOVE JENNI: An Unauthorized Biography of Jenni Rivera by NY Times best-selling author Marc Shapiro and Charlie Vasquez.

Jenni Rivera was an everywoman. I felt like she was my sister-in-law or my cousin through marriage. She was so real and her life, the ups and downs, was so open for all to see. It’s what made her music and her TV show so powerful.

You can read more by clicking the link above. But I wanted to post about this book because I’ve always felt close to the feminist era, too. I come from a long line of women who worked as professionals and raised families at the same time. So does Tony. And while there’s nothing wrong at all with women who choose to stay home and raise their families, we truly don’t know any who do that.

In other words, our entire lives have been surrounded by strong, independent women. Even the women I work with in publishing…and it’s mostly women…are all strong, independent businesswoman, from Holly Schmidt owner of Ravenous Romance to all of my editors with And that’s always been the case.

I’m making a point of this right now because of an article I read last weekend that suggests gay men (and m/m authors) bash women in m/m books. And while I suspect the blogger isn’t talking about all m/m books, the article spoke in a general sense, but I didn’t see that distinction made clearly enough, and I took offense to that as a gay author who does write m/m books. I once had a very rude, arrogant male character who treated women poorly in a book, and this character used some offensive sexist dialogue in the book. But when my publisher talked to me about it I ultimately made the decision to remove his vulgar comments so I wouldn’t offend my female readers. The publisher would have let it go to print, it wasn’t me speaking it was the character, but I made the decision to remove it. And it wasn’t something that altered the content of the book. So I take this very seriously, and I personally don’t appreciate being lumped into categories by amateur bloggers who tend to bloviate.

Harry Hamlin: Shameless; Review: River of Tears by Michele L. Montgomery

Before I get into my review of “River of Tears,” by Michele L. Montgomery, I wanted to mention something about actor Harry Hamlin who is now playing an interesting role on the TV show, “Shameless.”

Hamlin has been around for a while, and he’s starred in several projects that have gay themes. In “Shameless,” he plays the wealthy father of Steve/Jimmy, who is also having a down-low sexual relationship with Steve/Jimmy’s girlfriend’s younger brother, Ian. You can read more about “Shameless,” here. I find the way they handle the gay characters is superior to any of the network shows. They are just gay and they are there. You don’t see a lot of political nonsense, stereotypes, or trendy bullshit. In other words, they make gay normal without trying too hard to make it the NEW normal…pardon the shameless puns.

In any event, I find it interesting that Hamlin (who is straight, and very fine, indeed) is playing a part like this in “Shameless,” because of a former role he played in the older gay film, “Making Love.” I was only a kid at the time, but I remember the controversy this film created.

According to gay film historian Vito Russo‘s book The Celluloid Closet, straight critics found the film boring while gay critics, glad for any attention paid to the subject, praised it. Making Love opened strong at the box office its first week, but poor word of mouth led to a large drop-off in box office receipts the following week.

Of course the straight critics didn’t like it. Straight people can’t relate to gay films like this, and these reviews are living proof in black and white. It was one of the first gay films I’d ever seen, and one of the first gay love stories I’d ever seen as well. I loved it. I would even go so far as to say it gave me role models at a time when young gay men didn’t have any. As a side note, Hamlin was younger then and extremely attractive. Trust me, he’s aged very well. I think he’s just as hot today on “Shameless” as he was back then.

Review: River of Tears by Michele L. Montgomery

I’ve read and reviewed this author’s fiction a few times before on this blog, but in all cases, up until now, those books and stories have been M/M Romance. As a M/M Romance author Michele is clearly one of the straight women writing in the genre who really knows how to nail it and get it right. So when she sent me a pre-release copy of “River of Tears,” I was a little apprehensive about reading it because it wasn’t M/M Romance this time. If I had to classify RoT in a bookstore, I would probably put it on the Romantic Suspense section. It is mainstream, with straight main characters, and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Authors hop genres all the time, but not all do it well.

In this case, I was nicely suprised. The one thing that is most difficult about writing a review for any of Michele’s books is that they are filled with suspense and surprises and I don’t want to give out any spoilers. In fact, while I’m reading, I sometimes think about how…or if…I’m going to review the book because every other page seems to bring a new surprise. So I will be careful here and I won’t give spoilers.

The central theme of the storyline revolves around Abby, a sweet young women, but just as strong and determined as she is sweet. Abby winds up falling in love with a guy, Caiden, who comes from one of the most insane families I think I have ever read about in my life. The mother-in-law, Joyce, pulls some of the worst things anyone in the history of time has ever pulled on a daughter-in-law. I sat there, with my e-reader, in the middle of the night just re-reading certain things to make sure I got them right.

The rest of the family isn’t much better either. There are siblings that make the worst families look tame. And the things they do to poor Caiden left me stunned. Also, throughout the book, Michele adds bits and pieces of back story that make them all even worse. The things that happened to Caiden alone in his childhood would make most detectives who deal with child abuse sick to their stomachs. But it’s done in a way that leaves you hoping for the best, not focusing on the doom and gloom.

And that’s because of Abby’s inner strength, a strength she often doesn’t even know she has herself. One thing leads to another, and Abby winds up on a quest…or mission…that consumes her entire life. She becomes determiend to save her life, her own family (she has three small kids), and will not stop until she gets answers. It’s been a long time since I’ve read about a character as strong or as tenacious as Abby. She does have support from her own family, which I found to be a nice relief in the book. I think she would have been strong enough to get her life back without all this support, but it was a nice touch to see the family dynamic there as well. I think most of us who are family oriented like these things in novels.

As a side note, the writing was excellent, the editing was articulate, and I didn’t see any of the mistakes I sometimes find in digital books. But even if there had been a few mistakes in formatting…which there weren’t…I would have liked the book just as much because of all the other elements that made it such a good read. The settings are places we would all love to visit someday. I like novels to take me away to different places and I think in this case, with so many serious topics happening, these wonderful settings provided a brief sense of relief at times. It showed me that Abby’s life isn’t all bad, and that she does have so much to fight for.

That’s about all I can do without giving out spoilers. Part of the fun with a book like this is to be suprised all the time. You won’t find a great deal of sex in this book, and yet at the same time I found Caiden both adorable and sexy even though there aren’t any sex scenes. He’s so vulerable and such a nice guy, you just want to protect him from all these vicious people in his life.

I would recommend this book to anyone without thinking twice. I read it in three sittings, very late at night, but I would have loved to have had a chance to read it on one sitting if I’d had the time.

Purchase link from publisher’s web site, here.

Photo of Harry Hamlin, found here.

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