Meet Frank Gallagher, a drunken self-important loser and paterfamilias of a fairly gross, fairly awesome family in some poor area of Chicago or something. He's got about a billion kids, who frankly would be better off if he disappeared one day; wife's out of the picture. The oldest, Fiona, is super gorgeous and super messed up in her head. She raises the kids and tries not to be totally disappointed in her circumstances, which is like this Herculean task, because her life is objectively repulsive. She starts out being the most important one, but they're all going to end up pretty important.
The two oldest boys are Lip and Ian, a study in contrasts: Lip is smart in that hood-rat way, ethically challenged; Ian is super responsible and keyed up and honorable, but as we'll see, he also has his share of iffy secrets. Then there's Debbie, who is sort of like in that movie Stigmata where they talk about how the closer you are to being a saint, the closer you are also getting to true evil: She's both at once, and it's fantastic. Carl and Liam are the babies. Carl's an eight-year-old psycho in training, and Liam is mysteriously black: "I'm no biologist, but he looks a little bit like my first sponsor. He and the ex were close."
Anyway, he discusses other people we'll meet in a bit, and then it's morning: Fiona passes around a cereal box for money to pay the electric, and they all toss in. Because they are a family of grifters and thieves, everybody has something to contribute except the babies. There's a lot of whirling camera action as we see just how busy a morning is when you have a million kids, and just how busy a morning can be when you're poor Fiona. She hands Liam over to Debbie in lieu of a real Show & Tell ("Show them the birthmark on his back, it looks like Latvia"), gets their shared cell -- what you call a Ghetto Family Plan -- from Lip (fourteen minutes left), feeds the kids, collects almost enough to keep the lights on, et cetera.
There's a bunch of smash-cuts and slow-mo and speed-up and whatever, the editing better calm down soon because it was annoying in the UK version but straight up dickless here and I don't want to discuss it at all. I mean, at least they had reasons to be all self-satisfied and dorkily overproduced: One, have you ever seen British TV, and two, the pilot here is practically shot-for-shot the original one, which was 2004 I think. Which is like 1998 in UK years. (And I'm not being racist or whatever, it's a continuum: 2011 here is like 1950 in Japan years.)