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William H. Macy's 'Shameless' was Showtime's biggest drama premiere in seven years

January 10, 2011 |  1:03 pm

It may have divided the critics, but in the ratings "Shameless" scored another win Sunday for Showtime's programming strategy of banking on anti-hero star vehicles.

The drama, an Americanized version of a British series, stars William H. Macy as an abusive, substance-abusing father and delivered 982,000 total viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. "Shameless" was the pay cable network's biggest drama premiere in seven years, when "Dead Like Me" scored 1.1 million. By comparison, "The Tudors" in 2007 premiered to just 869,000.

The show divided reviewers, with Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara finding it gritty and preachy, "never a good combination."

Meanwhile, Showtime's fourth season premiere of "Californication" -- the comedy with David Duchovny as an oversexed writer -- had its best season opener ever, with 848,000 viewers. It provided a strong lead-in for "Episodes," Matt LeBlanc's return to series TV, which premiered to 768,000 viewers.

-- Scott Collins


Photo: William H. Macy stars as Frank Gallagher in "Shameless." Credit: Showtime