If someone told me the first time Mickey Milkovich graced my TV screen (in all his dirt-faced glory) that he would become one of my favorite characters of all time, I would have told that person they were cray. Surely nothing more than a slimy, punk-ass bully side-character, how could “The dirtiest white boy in America” possibly become one of the most important, most beloved characters not only to myself, but to people all over the world?
Say “Gallavich” anywhere on the internet, and you will get a variety of people you don’t even know harping on how “Ian didn’t deserve Mickey!” Or “Shameless will never be the same without Mickey!” Promptly followed by the hashtag #MickeyDeservedBetter.
Possibly one of the most short-lived ecstatic highs I’ve witnessed on television, spiraling fast and crashing to one of the most despairing lows, the Showtime hit Shameless brought back everyone’s favorite “shit-talking, bitch-slapping piece of South Side trash,” Mickey Milkovich (played by Noel Fisher), for less than three episodes— just to write him off the show again, for what feels like the final time.
Mickey Milkovich and Ian Gallagher (played by Cameron Monaghan), affectionately referred to by their couple name, “Gallavich,” were torn apart once again in episode 7×11, in a way that seems too devastatingly permanent to resurrect again in Season 8.
Heart-broken and furious, Gallavich fans around the world united in a slew of social media petitions against the demon writers of Shameless, as they watched through tear-stricken eyes the final good-bye between star-crossed lovers, Ian and Mickey.
Clearly, I too have some issues with this blatant character assassination, and you’re about to hear them. Here are 7 very necessary, very long-winded reasons why Mickey Milkovich deserved better, and why Ian (and the writers) can go suck an egg for breaking his heart.
1. ) Mickey came out for Ian, despite almost being murdered by his own father
“Ian what you and I have, makes me free. Not what these assholes know.” – Mickey
In one of the more explosive coming-outs in television history, Mickey revealed his sexuality to a bar-full of people, including his drunken, hot-tempered homophobe father, just to satisfy Ian, who had basically given him an ultimatum to do so, at the risk of losing him for good. In the end, Mickey’s fear of losing Ian was stronger than his fear of society’s rejection, as well as the self-hatred he harbored inside.
Ian had pushed him pretty hard, even after witnessing first-hand the gravity of the dementedly abusive situation Mickey faced at home with his psychopath father (I mean, he forced his own son to have sex with a prostitute at gun-point, we’re not just going to forget about that, are we?) Even though from my opinion, Ian’s relentless pressures for Mickey to come out were in a lot of ways selfish, what he did for Mickey in this scene was monumental to his character. Mickey learned to silence his internal struggle and begin to love and accept his true self, all because of his immense love for Ian and the sanctuary he found in their deeply rooted connection.
2. ) He stood by and cared for Ian during his struggle with bi-polar disorder
Even though Ian would resent Mickey for this, Mickey tried his damnedest to nurture and protect Ian during both his hypo-manic and depressive states. He insisted on keeping Ian at home where he could be safe, comfortable, and with his family.
Mickey tried to keep their relationship as normal (in terms of Shameless) as possible, believing he and Fiona could take care of Ian successfully by themselves. Mickey fought valiantly to do right by Ian, but when Ian’s wants clashed with what he needed, Mickey was fighting a losing battle. At this point, Ian had transferred his frustration with his illness onto Mickey, and no matter what Mickey did it was met with outraged defiance from Ian. When caring for Ian at home proved to be failing (and overall more detrimental to Ian’s health), Mickey let Fiona convince him to put Ian in treatment.
“You did okay Mickey. Y’know, you tried. That’s a lot more than most people would do.”
3. ) “His Partner? Lover? Family?”
At the end of season 5, Mickey tells Ian he loves him and Ian questions what that means. Mickey responds:
“It means we take care of each other. Through thick and thin, good times, bad, sickness, health, all that shit.”
What is beautiful and heartbreaking about this line is that Mickey didn’t just say these words, he lived and proved them throughout the entirety of this season. Ian seems to think Mickey doesn’t accept him for who he is with his illness, but on the contrary, I don’t think there’s anyone who has shown him more acceptance or unconditional love—including the rest of the Gallagher siblings.
Ian was home for Mickey. Mickey was right beside him, dealing with this roller coaster of traumatic ups and downs like a champion, and even though seeing Ian in the hospital—sedated and totally detached—left Mickey completely broken up, even that wasn’t enough to make him run. Mickey was ride or die for Ian, willing to risk everything for him. It’s just disappointing after everything Mickey sacrificed for Ian, he wasn’t willing to do the same.
4. ) Ian complained to Caleb that “Mickey wasn’t much of a talker,” but every time Mickey tried to communicate with Ian, he was straight-up ignored
In this dialogue between Ian and Caleb on their first date in season 6, it’s like the writers want to brain wash us into believing that Mickey was abusive and their relationship had been nothing but destructive and toxic, but anyone who has actually watched the show (or read this article up to this point) would know this couldn’t be any further from the truth. It’s disingenuous to Mickey’s character, and disrespectful to the fans of the show. Just watch this video below by BigSalamiEdits if you want to see Ian reject Mickey’s every effort to communicate like it’s his job.
It’s even more baffling to note that the very things Ian mocks Mickey for in season 5 (ie., making sure he was taking his meds responsibly, being sensitive to his needs, and overall showing genuine concern of Ian’s well-being like a BOYFRIEND would) is exactly what Ian deceived others into thinking he DIDN’T do.
Why you lyin’, Ian??
5. ) The only reason Mickey was serving time in the first place was for fool-hardily trying to avenge Ian
In my opinion, this whole story line marks the turning point of where the writers completely failed Mickey, damning any chance of future happiness or success by writing him a jail sentence of 15 years for attempted murder—that he never even actually attempted, mind you…
Anyways, Mickey would never have been thrown in jail if it wasn’t for “South Side Rules” and his wanting revenge on Frank’s eldest daughter, Sammi, who reported Ian to the military for going AWOL, in hopes of getting revenge for her son Chucky being sent to juvy because of Carl’s shenanigans…is this web of revenge confusing anyone else?
Mickey’s fierce loyalty and protectiveness for Ian was his Achilles Heel in this instance. He couldn’t let this injustice to Ian go, and mixed with his thuggish, DIY South Side upbringing, this was a recipe for jail-time waiting to happen.
6.) The “new” Ian acts as if Mickey was just a bad habit he’s got to kick
During a heart to heart, Fiona tells Ian that Mickey would set a match to his newfound success, and that he’s better off without him. But, is he though?
To imply that being with Mickey would ruin Ian is insulting. Yes, at the end of the day, Mickey is a criminal. He’s rash, and doesn’t make the best decisions when he feels he’s been backed into a corner. But as we’ve seen, Ian’s done a fine job getting himself into some fucked-up situations all by himself.
In a lot of ways, I think Ian is to Mickey what Monica is to Frank. Mickey may have his flaws, but there ain’t no body out there who will love Ian the way he does. Frank’s one redeeming quality, in my opinion, was the way in which he loved the crap out of Monica. They might fight like savages, but you can’t deny their explosive chemistry and passion for one another. She was the only light in his otherwise very dark world.
Like Frank chasing Monica through all her cracked-out ups and downs, her illness and flightiness repeatedly leaving him in heartbreak, Mickey will always come back to Ian. He will always harbor these feelings for Ian, no matter what separates them over the years. Mickey only ever wanted what was best for Ian, and I think many people would be lucky to have someone like that in their lives.
7. ) WHY bring him back just to do him dirty like that?
When Ian and Mickey are standing at the border and Mickey says “We’re almost to the finish line,” I fully believe that he meant the two were almost free to live their lives as a real couple, safe from every external factor that threatened to tear the two apart. But the writers just couldn’t give Mickey that happy ending, could they?
Mickey deserved so much more than this typical Jimmy/Steve write-off, and I didn’t even think that Jimmy/Steve deserved to be done that dirty.
With Mickey they brought to life a character who came from so much pain, hate, and destructive tendencies, and showed us how even he could find love and acceptance in the most unexpected place. Even more unlikely, out of all the characters on the show, he was the one who taught us the most about absolute, unconditional, and irrevocable love.
There was something almost transcendental about Mickey and Ian’s relationship in comparison to the rest of the show. It was a tragic, beautiful love that felt raw, authentic, and refreshing compared to any relationship we’ve watched unfold on screen. Time never seemed to be on their side, but still we rooted for both of these characters to be happy, and just wanted them to be together, dammit!
While I’ve been kinda harsh to Ian in this post, I have to admit I really do believe at the end of 7.11 he genuinely meant that “I love you.” He left Mickey with all of his life’s savings, and that action alone would require a grievous amount of love towards the recipient of such a parting gift. At least we know he wanted more than anything to give Mickey the chance of a good life, even if he wouldn’t be a part of it.
Either way, I can’t get down with the disrespect they’ve shown to this character, who deserved so, so much more out of life. If this is a goodbye, or just a see you later, I won’t know until the reviews come in. This is where I hop off the Shameless train. If Mickey’s out, so am I.
Oh, and “Fuck you, Gallagher.”