Why We Need To Talk About The Return of Shameless’s Mandy Milkovich

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If you’ve never watched Showtime’s Shamelessget on it. Also, this post contains SPOILERS about season 6, episode 9 (aired March 13, 2016).

As an avid watcher of Shameless, I get that we’re all upset about the loss of Mickey Milkovich. I get it. Noel Fisher is an amazing actor who brought to life a brilliant character. When Mickey was carted off to prison at the start of this season, there were outcries for his return and that he “deserved better,” but you know which member of the same family was unceremoniously written off the show that deserved better?

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Mandy Milkovich.  

Mandy, if you recall, had a rather lackluster exit in the beginning of season 5; suddenly moving to Indiana to scrub porta-potties with her boyfriend, Kenyatta, who was revealed to have been beating her. That’s right, Mandy Milkovich, who once literally chased a pedophile out of the neighborhood, had her story as we knew it end with… going to Indiana to clean toilets with the scumbag who physically abused her. And nobody said a word. In fact, she’s barely been mentioned since.

Personally,  I was FURIOUS. I was devastated. I was absolutely crushed that THAT was the ending that this complex, multi-dimensional female character got. Mandy f**king Milkovich, who got Lip Gallagher into college, who pretended to be Ian’s girlfriend when he was afraid of people knowing he was gay, who took in her transgender half-sister, who suffered such horrific neglect and sexual abuse in her childhood, yet still showed so much capacity to love and never received the love she needed. Mandy, who grew up with nothing, who thought she was worthless because of where she came from. I couldn’t believe that this was her destiny. She deserved so much better, and I was heartbroken.

But on last night’s episode, something incredible happened.

Out of nowhere, no warning, nothing in the episode promo, Mandy returned via phone call to Ian Gallagher.  Ian helps her deal with a body in her hotel room (long story, watch the episode) and lets her stay at the Gallagher house for the night. We learn about her newfound independence: she has evidently left Kenyatta and now has her own apartment, her own car, and a stable source of income. Most importantly, she has left the South Side.

It’s a far cry from a white picket fence, as she’s now an escort, but you have to remember where she comes from: a family of criminals with an abusive father who was in and out of prison. This is more freedom, more agency, and more stability than Mandy has ever had in her life.

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As such, to the oft-underappreciated writers, I must say:

Thank you.

Thank you for bringing back Mandy Milkovich, even if it was just for an episode.

Thank you for giving her anything other than the ending she originally got.

When I saw her on last night’s episode, I gasped, I screamed, I wept tears of joy. Whatever her situation is now, it’s miles better than anything it’s ever been before. She has actual agency, she’s away from her abusive father, her abusive boyfriend, and the house she grew up in.

Will she appear on the show again? Who knows. Despite Mandy being one of my favorite characters, I will be fine if this is her final appearance because she finally has some semblance of resolution. She got out of the South Side, something she never thought she could do. She’s living on her own terms, and that’s all I could hope for her. As she says to Ian, “just because we were born here, doesn’t mean we end up here.”

So thank you. Thank you for taking this female character, who has suffered so much, and giving her a better ending.

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