A review of tonight's "Shameless" season finale coming up just as soon as I mash 15 different insulting metaphors into one incredibly nasty sentence...

Leave it to Monica, of all people, to properly — if delusionally, in terms of her own circumstance — sum up the key theme of season 5, by telling Ian, "And that's the most important thing: to find somebody to love, right? Who loves you back for who you are?"

As with any "Shameless" season, the plots strayed far and wide, with some getting largely ignored after a while. (The threat of gentrification wasn't forgotten, for instance, but receded into the deep background, save for the party the professor took Lip to.) But the main theme of the season, particularly in its second half, involved members of the extended Gallagher family(*) looking for people who would love them for who they are, and often screwing things up along the way.

(*) Minus Sheila, who finally skipped out on Frank and everyone else; and JimmySteveJack, who went off to grift without Fiona. While both characters added value in early seasons, the show had long since moved beyond both, and I was glad to see them both sent out of town.

Fiona doesn't deserve Gus (and Gus deserves far better), but where Sean is a match in some ways, he's both more adult and more damaged than she can handle. Kev and Veronica finally work through their post-partum issues after a separation and a lot of college sex for Kev the rape walker(**). Ian decides he doesn't want Mickey to fix him, and in the finale's most emotional moment, breaks up with him. Debbie decides the best route out of the Gallagher family and into a saner one is to get pregnant, while Lip realizes he's more drawn to the aloof professor — who's just using him as her latest plaything — than he is in Amanda, who has developed real feelings for him. Even Frank's relationship with Bianca, introduced relatively late in the season, involved her choosing him over her family because he was the only person who accepted that she would rather die after a short but fun adventure than a long, painful and likely futile round of treatment.

(**) It didn't make a ton of sense to me, given the issues that led to the separation, that it was Kev who wound up moving out and sleeping around, since he was the one focused on the babies first, while Vee was the one desperate for sex.

This season wasn't as dark overall as season 4, though Ian's story arc brought us pretty close at times. It also wasn't as strong overall, in part because I began to react to Sammi the same way the Gallaghers did, often asking myself, "Why is she still here?" (Hopefully she ends up in jail after shooting up the neighborhood in broad daylight.) Because of the time needed to get rid of Sheila and JimmySteve, and as usual to figure out a Frank storyline that existed largely apart from the rest of the family, this was something of a transition year, for both the show and the family — Fiona adjusting to life on probation, Ian battling both his illness and the side effects of its treatment, Debbie trying to embrace her sexuality too soon, Kev and Vee struggling with new parenthood — but one with the kind of highs (particularly anything to do with Ian and Mickey) we know the series is capable of.

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com