Showtime has clearly adopted an audience-baiting strategy not unlike that of a drug dealer: the first one is free. Last week the premium channel put the first episode of the Don Cheadle-led drama House of Lies up on the interwebs, and now they've done the same for two of their returning series, Shameless and Californication. All the salacious bits — the cursing, the boobs, and the butts — are blocked out, though. (Perhaps the promise of Emmy Rossum's nipples could interest you in upgrading your cable package?)
If you're unfamiliar, Shameless is the U.S. version of a U.K. hit that follows the extremely dysfunctional Gallagher family and walks the line between actual drama and insanely dark comedy. When it's good, it features some compelling characters and a refreshing willingness to make said characters not just unlikable but downright ugly. (Minor sad fact: the charming Jane Levy, who played recurring character Mandy, left the show to star in Suburgatory. They simply recast the part, but so far I'm feeling like this is a downgrade.)
Californication is a show I believed was canceled until just now. Make of that what you will.