Showtime's 'Shameless' Trumpets Superior Canadian Healthcare, Lives Up to Its Name

"They're 600 bucks here, and only 225 up there."

On the Showtime drama Shameless, family patriarch Frank has been struggling to make a clean living. In Sunday’s left-wing episode, he sits in a bar contemplating his unemployed misery, when he meets a man who reminds viewers that America isn’t the promised land.

Frank encounters Akram, who served in Desert Storm as a translator in Iraq, yet is being deported because of a speeding ticket.


Akram’s problems are so immense that he has tried, unsuccessfully, to “flee up to Canada.” This gives Frank an idea: he’ll make money as a coyote. Throw in some white privilege and a nod to Islam, and you’ve got yourself a solid, leftist TV scene:

Akram: I tried to flee up to Canada, but they stopped me at the border, wouldn't let me in, sent me back. 

Frank: Wait, you're trying to get out of America? 

Akram: Yeah. 

Frank: [expletive], that's a piece of [expletive] cake. 

Akram: Yeah, maybe for a white guy. 

Frank: Frank Gallagher. 

Akram: Akram.

Frank: Akram, my friend. This could be your lucky day. Praise Allah.

Frank's aspiration leads him to stumble upon an even bigger business opportunity:

Frank: I am your deliverer, my friend. It just so happens I find myself between jobs, so for a small fee... Say, 200, plus gas and tolls, I'll get you and your family across, show what that big, beautiful country up north is all "a-boot." 

Kermit: Hey, Frank, if you're going to Canada, can you do me a favor, bring me back some Canadian insulin? It's 50 percent cheaper up there. 

Kermit offers Frank $20, and then things escalate:

Man One: Oh, who's going to Canada?

Man Two: He is. 

Man One: Buddy, listen, can you get me some epipens? My kid's allergic to peanuts. They're 600 bucks here, and only 225 up there. I'll pay you whatever he's paying. 

Frank: Well, Kermit's a friend. I was giving him the friend-price. My rate's... $30 per drug, per run, plus gratuity. 

Man: Done. 

Kermit: I was first. Frank, it's Invokana. I-n-v-o-k-a-n-a. 

Man Two: You know, my cousin'd take a case of that Tecfidera for his MS friend.

Frank: Gentlemen, one at a time. A man's backpack is only so big.

In the fictional world of Shameless, apparently everyone knows that Canada has superior healthcare over oppressive America (although Canada won’t let in the people Frank is sneaking across the border). However, National Review noted in April:

The Canadian model of universal coverage is failing…When it comes to affordability, the Canadian system also passes, if just barely. Canadians pay for health insurance through their taxes; most never see a medical bill. But that doesn’t mean the system is affordable. Au contraire.

Furthermore, according to a 2014 Commonwealth Fund report, Canada placed tenth in wealthy countries’ quality of care, and dead last in timeliness of care. Such long waits and other challenges have some Canadians making a break for their border to attain proper care. According to left-wing HuffPost:

There are a growing number of Canadians seeking medical treatment south of their border, raiding their bank accounts and choosing to pay for treatment instead of being treated through their nationalized health care system. In 2014, more than 50,000 Canadians left the country for medical treatment, a 25 percent increase from the previous year. A similar number left the country for treatment in 2015. 

Moreover, as Newsbusters points out, in relation to Shameless:

For argument's sake, let's say Frank does get the correct drug and it's still safe to take. Why is it so expensive in America? Let's look at the EpiPen. Prices for the EpiPen are high (they've increased 400% in recent years), there's no way around it, but insurers have historically negotiated with manufacturer Mylan over prices. The manufacturer also gave out coupons and gave free EpiPens to schools. However, with Obamacare raising deductibles and raising co-payments, people are more aware of the cost. In addition, until very recently, the federal government has prevented competitors from entering the marketplace, so competition could not drive down prices.

Hollywood is quick to castigate America, especially while a Republican sits in its highest office. But our country remains a beacon for the world, of liberty and quality of life, despite the assertions of Showtime's television show. Their suggestion to the contrary is, well, you know the word.