Credit: Showtime

The Gallagher family won’t stumble back to Showtime until January, but it’s never too early to start pregaming before the party starts. Those who missed this loving-yet-dysfunctional family’s antics over their own summer should worry no more, because EW obtained an exclusive first look photo of William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum that proves that Shameless’ mischief is far from over. (See it after the jump!)

“Fiona [Rossum] is trying to deny that she was really in love with Steve, so she’s dating other people,” teased exec producer and showrunner John Wells. “She makes a mistake about who she sleeps with, someone that she knows from high school, and now she’s being chased by that person. She ends up hiding under the table with Frank [Macy]. He thinks it’s very amusing that now she’s hiding.”

Wells also gave EW some exclusive details on season 2 of the addictive family dramedy, which will showcase an eventful summer in Chicago’s South Side. Get ready for new additions, steamy love triangles, get-rich-quick schemes, and, of course, more run-ins with the law for Frank.

Credit: Showtime

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What’s the overriding theme of season 2?

JOHN WELLS: We were really pleased with how last season turned out. Particularly, we loved how terrific the cast was, and our ability to have a lot of fun with these stories; to provide a certain amount of social satire at the same time that we’re doing these outrageous things. We want to spend time getting to know them better, and seeing the situations they go through. Somebody said to me that the great thing about the show is you feel like you want to go over there and hang out on the couch, and that’s the general sense that we’re trying to continue on the show. I think the big difference that people will notice right away is that we went from where we were in winter last time, and now it’s these people’s lives in the summer, and how they’re trying to just survive during the summertime. It will just be Shameless. There’s just a tremendous number of completely politically incorrect things happening on the show at all times.

So we’re not just picking up where we left off?

Well, there’s lots going on, and part of it is at the end of last season Steve and Fiona didn’t get together and he left, because he was in danger of being arrested. So we begin with him in Brazil and Fiona in Chicago trying to date other people. It’s her trying to see if she can find love some place else, since she didn’t go to the airport with him when he had to run away. Frank, as always, is in the midst of a series of scams and ways to try to keep easy money on the table, so he doesn’t have to work. Lip (Jeremey Allen White) and Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins) are still doing the thing where they’re sleeping together and he’s falling increasingly in love with her, but she has a new boyfriend. So they have this kind of ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement. And there’s great stuff for Cameron (Monaghan)’s character (Ian). There’s just lots going on.

A central theme of the show has been the family’s struggle to survive economically with no parental help. How will that change over the summer, with all of the kids out of school?

They run an ice cream truck with Kevin’s help, from next door. They sell ice cream, blunts and beer to kids who are at least 14 years of age. They do have some standards. Everybody works, everybody has different jobs. Debbie (Emma Kenney) runs kind of a neighborhood daycare, Fiona is working at a club as a waitress with Veronica (Shanola Hampton), who is tending bar. It’s vibrant, with a lot of stories and a lot of craziness going on. It’s fun.

At the end of last season, Fiona had taken a job with Jasmine (Amy Smart), and there were some hints at a possible romance there. Will we see more of her this year?

Amy is still there; she (Fiona) just makes more money when she can waitress in the club. But Amy is still very much there around her character, and there’s a whole storyline about what happens with the two of them. [The attraction]’s still there.

What about Steve? By the end of last season, she had clearly fallen in love with him.

She’s trying to pretend that it hasn’t affected her at all. Really, what the first five episodes are about is watching her realize that she cared a lot more than she wanted to admit. She starts picking up the phone and calling him because she misses him, and then when wishing that she hadn’t. He’s hurt because she didn’t come with him, but understands that she chose her family instead. She’s angry that he put her in the position of having to make that choice, which didn’t seem like a fair choice to have to make, and they’re going to have to get over that. And he has to get back from Brazil. He’s got to figure out how to get back and not get arrested.

Last season Frank pushed the limits by sleeping with his girlfriend, Sheila (Joan Cusack)’s, daughter Karen, which also led to Karen’s father’s suicide. Where will that leave him?

Oh, Sheila doesn’t find out until episode 5, when Freddy’s body shows up. The police are interested in why he was looking for Frank, and now he’s at the bottom of Lake Michigan with a cinder block tied around his ankle. Then all of that comes to light. But Joan is very much a part of this coming season as well, I think she’s in all but one or two episodes.

Will they still be an item?

I think he doesn’t admit how much he actually cares about her, because everything is narcissistic and just about what he needs at any moment. But, truth be told, I think he actually has more fondness for her than he realizes. Also, there’s a woman who is dying in the neighborhood, she has a heart condition that she needs a transplant for, so he’s thinking that maybe he can move in on her and marry her in the hopes that she dies and he can collect her city pension. You know, he’s always trying to find something that will keep him from actually having to do any physical labor.

Will we ever see Frank attempt sobriety for more than a day or two?

Not in this season! I don’t think he really looks at sobriety as a good thing. He doesn’t feel like there’s something wrong with his being drunk all of the time, he thinks there’s something wrong with people who aren’t drunk all of the time.

His alcoholism and indiscretion with Karen had a huge impact on Lip, who literally pissed all over him.

Lip has realized that this is who is father is, and he has to move on. He doesn’t like him and he doesn’t accept his father’s behavior, but at the same time, he’s moving on with his life. Because otherwise, when you have a father like this, you have to decide whether that person is going to destroy the rest of your life, if that’s what is going to define who you are or not. But we’re really watching Lip throughout the season struggle with who he is going to be. He has these potentials because of his intelligence, and at the same time, he really loves and wants to be around his family and his friends. He doesn’t like all of this pressure and the sense that eventually it’s his responsibility to go some place else or be someone else or go to college. He just wants things to keep going the way they are with everybody, and nothing to change. That’s that fear in adolescence when you reach 16, 17 years old. You’re desperate to get out, and at the same time, there’s the fear of what if this is where I really want to be, maybe this is the best time in my life.

Can you spill more on Karen’s new boyfriend? Lip had told her he loved her at the end of last season, but sleeping with his father should probably have put a dent on that.

Lip doesn’t think he cares about her, but then she actually starts to see somebody else who is older. His name is Jody. Now he’s thinking, “wait a second, this thing that I just took for granted may be something that I really want,” at the same time that it’s kind of moving away from him.

What’s the deal with Jody? What will he bring to the table?

They met in Sex Addicts Anonymous, so they’re abstaining and trying to have like a really sweet 1950s love affair. He’s living at Sheila’s house, so we’ve got Sheila and Karen and Jody and also Lip trying to sneak in when he’s not around. He drives a motorcycle and has kind of a tough guy history, but he’s actually just really, genuinely in love with Karen, which is something that she hasn’t really experienced before so she’s trying to figure it out.

Last season was huge for Ian. He came out to his family, had difficult romances with Mickey and Cash, and still managed to stay on the straight and narrow despite living in a family of quasi-criminals. What’s next?

Well, he’s exploring who he wants to be. He really likes Mickey who is completely on the down low and doesn’t tell anybody. Mickey is the guy who Cash shot, and he is very attracted to him, and yet not quite sure what that is. He’s realized that the relationship with Cash is a little weird. So, this year is about him figuring out who he wants to be. He wants to be in the military, and maybe become a police officer. He’s very much on the straight and narrow and sees his responsibility in life to be a different kind of person, so that’s what we’re going to continue to see with him. He sets his sights this season on wanting to go to West Point in two years.

A Gallagher cop? Will his family’s lifestyle get in the way?

Sure, I mean, getting into West Point from the family background that he’s coming from is extremely difficult. He needs recommendations from a federal officer or an elected official, whether that be a congressman or a secretary of state or a senator. Not somebody that he’s likely to meet in his neighborhood. He also needs tremendous grades, which is very difficult to do without a natural ability like Lip has within the context of the chaotic family life he has to live in. So I think the conflict for him is going to be, can he pursue his dreams?

Last but not least, there’s Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica, and their cult-rescued foster daughter, Ethel. Will she stick around?

They have Ethel still, and they’re trying to figure out if that’s going to lead to them having their own children, something that Kevin is much more enthusiastic about than V. He was a foster kid himself and he feels like it’s a really good thing to be doing, and that he could be a good dad in the way that his father wasn’t a good dad to him. [Ethel] is becoming part of the neighborhood while still maintaining her faith, which leads to some remarkable misunderstandings. Because in some ways, she comes from a much stranger world that the one that they come from. I mean, she married at 11 and had a kid at 12, so there are a lot of similarities between her and other people in the neighborhood.

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