Emmy Episode Analysis: William H. Macy (‘Shameless’) is a defiant alcoholic in ‘Lazarus’

Two-time Emmy-winner and 10-time nominee William H. Macy has landed his first bid for Showtime’s “Shamelessafter a surprise switch from the drama categories, where the show competed for its first three years. Macy competes for Best Comedy Actor for his portrayal of deadbeat dad Frank Gallagher.

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SYNOPSIS: In Macy’s submitted episode, “Lazarus,” Frank wakes up at the hospital after an emergency liver transplant and is immediately asked about his whereabouts by his new bride Sheila (Joan Cusack) and newly discovered daughter Sammi (Emily Bergl). Frank is amazed to learn he’s married and now has a new group of adopted Native American kids, whom Sheila brings to the hospital to meet Frank. After the kids leave, the doctor visits Frank to prep him for release. He warns Frank of the side effects of his medication, but all Frank asks is when he can drink. The doctor says never again, which makes Frank wonder what’s the point of having a new liver.

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The next day, he is ready for release, but Sheila and Sammi fight over which of them has a stronger claim to Frank, his new wife or new daughter. As the two are pulled away by security, his son Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) visits and sneaks Frank out of the hospital. Frank has Carl wheel him out on a path with a spectacular view of Chicago. Frank then asks Carl to hand over the bottle of whiskey he’s carrying. Frank holds the bottle up to the sky and defiantly drinks it. He then yells out, “Is that all you got?” and rants victoriously about his survival. He looks to his young son Carl and offers him a swig. Carl takes the drink and Frank looks at him with smiling approval, then an embrace.

Will Macy also be victorious at the Emmys? Let’s analyze the pros and cons:


The closing speech is a tour-de-force by Macy. His words may demonstrate Frank’s arrogance, but Macy’s facial expression shifts between proud, scared, broken, defeated, and victorious with ease. This may be something the Emmys just can’t ignore.

If voters aren’t regular viewers of the show, they may not know how bad a person Frank really is. This episode allows Macy to deliver a few great one-liners and elicit sympathy for his transplant and chaotic family situation. Even during his final speech, you still feel for Frank because Macy walks the line between empathy and egotism very carefully.

Emmy voters don’t usually invite you to the derby late into a show’s run, but Macy has pushed his way in, proving there may be passionate fans of the show among voters, or just fans of Macy in general.


Frank is an obnoxious, drunken, selfish man. He is also a horrible father. He’ll probably never get any number-one-dad votes, which may cost him some number-one Emmy votes.

Frank’s final speech, though well delivered, is a demonstration of how reckless and stubborn he is, even in the face of death, which might turn off voters.

Though Macy made it into the Comedy Actor race, there’s still controversy surrounding the show’s switch to comedy categories, especially since this past season was arguably its most dramatic.

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Macy currently ranks third in our predictions with 9/2 odds. Will he pull off an upset? Make your predictions below.

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