Credit: Warren Feldman/Showtime
Episode 803

WARNING: The following contains spoilers from “Familia Supra Gallegorious Omnia!”, Sunday’s episode of Shameless. Read at your own risk! Recap here.

Is Lip doomed to repeat the sins of his father?

Sunday’s Shameless finale left Lip’s future up in the air as he hovered between two choices that might very well change his life forever.

Lip (Jeremy Allen White) had always been a partier, but his drinking became a problem following his split from Helene (Sasha Alexander). While their breakup was a trigger, Lip’s drinking was the representation of personal demons that were always going to rise to the surface — it was just a matter of when. Weighed down by the circumstances of his upbringing, Lip never really felt like he belonged to the new world he found himself in despite the myriad opportunities it offered him.

Now, he faces certain expulsion. School had always been easy for him, but the politics of academia were not such a natural fit. Looking forward at season 7, Lip may have to actually fight to regain his place in the world he cast off. That is, if he can bring himself to make a true effort for once in his life. And that starts with making the right choice, and entering the rehab facility recommended to him by Youens (Alan Rosenberg).

In a conversation with EW, White breaks down Lip’s role in that heartbreaking season finale, and reveals his hopes for season 7. And while White, too, looks forward to a happy ending for the Gallaghers, he rightly points out that real life isn’t so neat and tidy.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, I guess I have to ask: What happens after Youens drives off? What does Lip do?

JEREMY ALLEN WHITE: I don’t know. [Laughs]

What do you hope he does?

I hope that Lip walks in. There’s a chance he could have watched Youens drive off and made a run for it. But at least since [“Paradise Lost“], Lip’s known that he needed to make a change. I think that being at the wedding and talking with Debbie really solidified his decision to go and get some help. Lip’s struggle really for the whole series has been just to not end up like Frank. [Going to rehab would be] a big step in just trying to get away from becoming like his father.

Given history, it seems like it’s in his character to walk in just as much as it is for him to say, “F— it, I’m not ready for this.”

Yeah, I’m curious. I asked [showrunner] John Wells when we did that scene, you know, “Is Lip going to do it?” And I don’t think John knew then.

You mentioned that Lip is terrified of becoming like Frank. Frank obviously thinks that the way he lives his life is fine, but Lip’s de facto father figure, Youens, knows he has a problem but isn’t ready to change. Might Lip be doomed to repeat these patterns?

There’s something really interesting about the Sean character, who Dermot Mulroney plays. He’s an addict and he knows that he’s an addict and he makes an effort to get well, whereas all the other characters — whether it’s substance abuse problems or, with Fiona, it’s these emotional and romantic self-destructive patterns — you know, the Gallaghers aren’t really able to face their addictions. They tend to make the same mistakes and follow the same destructive patterns.

I have no idea what’s happening what’s next season, but I think it would be really interesting if Lip got out and tried to work the program and tried to get [the family] to go to meetings to try to get well. Because growing up in that neighborhood, getting help with drinking is just such a foreign concept. It’s so normal to just not change. This world we’ve created is harsh.

It feels like the Gallaghers might never be able to shake their upbringing no matter what opportunities come their way, and Lip is a prime example. From the outside, he could not be doing any better. But he just can’t get it together. And I loved the bar scene, where all the patrons are pissed off at him for wasting this opportunity. It reminded me of that “best part of my day” scene in Good Will Hunting.

Because he’s so bright, he’s sort of always felt this sense of responsibility, and I think he’s probably put it on himself more than others have put it on him. He feels like he’s carrying the weight of the world even though he’s not all the time. Also, I think it makes him angry, thinking that not only his family but the whole neighborhood is counting on him. It’s a lot of pressure for him.

At a certain point, too, context loses its importance. The fact that Lip is so bright despite his upbringing isn’t going to be charming forever. Do you think Lip will ever be able to remove context from his situation? Will he ever be able to grow up, basically, as Youens demanded?

It’s been a struggle for Lip to adapt. He’s doing his best to survive in this other world with college and professors with friends and romantic interests who had more normal upbringings. He’s relying on himself and what he’s learned from growing up is that those two worlds don’t really [mesh]. He’s doing what he thinks is the right thing, but at the end of the day, it’s a struggle not being accepted for who he is in this new world that he’s trying to be a part of.

And Lip had always been a partier, but it was kind of a surprise to see that he had such a problem what felt like all of a sudden. I don’t necessarily feel that was foreshadowed at the top of the season. Was Helene a real trigger there?

There seems to be a pattern going all the way back to Karen. When he’s in a romantic relationship and he can’t control the outcome of that relationship, where he feels scared or out of control, he starts drinking. He really self-sabotages. I think that yeah, absolutely, what happened with Helene was the thing that started all this. He just never had an opportunity to get anything else figured out, you know? Everything started falling apart right after things ended with Helene and he just never had a chance to get it together.

Kind of like Fiona, he jumps into relationship after relationship without actually working on himself.

Yeah, and I think his idea of his and Helene’s relationship got so far away from what it really was. He let himself get caught up in this idea that they were really going to be together and that maybe there’d be a world where she would leave her husband and her family and they could actually be together. Helene never gave him any reason to believe that was a possibility, but he ran with it anyway. And it was very upsetting [for him], because he crafted this other reality and it was just not real at all for her.

At the risk of understating it, Shameless is kind of intense. Does it ever get draining, portraying this character and being around these characters who are constantly getting in their own way?

Yeah, it’s a bit frustrating. [Laughs] It’s draining and, you know, I love Lip and I want the best for him. But going to work and getting paid to play around is kind of the best — I can’t really complain.

I love the Gallaghers, I really do. Can we ever hope for a happy ending for them?

I don’t know! It’s hard. Obviously everybody wants all the characters to be happy and I’m sure they could tie it all up and make it look really nice in the end, but at the same time, that’s often not how things work. Lip could end up being a teacher and Ian an EMT and Fiona could get married and be completely in love and happy, and that would be so nice. But at the same time, that’s not usually how life works.

Going into season 7, can we hope for Fiona to stay single for a little while?

I think it would be good for her, but I think there’s something there with Sean and Fiona. I think they have to take care of their own s— a little bit more — when she yelled that at him during their fight [in “A Yurt of One’s Own“], I think something clicked in Sean’s head where he was like, “I want to marry that woman.” I don’t know if there’s a part of me that’s like, rooting for them even though he’s been doing heroin this whole time, but I don’t know. I really don’t know.

The relationship seemed good for her, but he was an addict, you know? And I just don’t want anybody to end up with someone like Frank.

Yeah. As long as everyone stays far away from anyone like Frank.

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