Shameless & GLI

April 28, 2016

Sometimes wildly imperfect TV storylines give you an opportunity to educate your audience. AndACTION created strategic content to help Global Liver Institute (GLI) use the TV show "Shameless" to raise awareness of organ donation.

Photo: Cliff Lipson/SHOWTIME


Showtime’s drama explores the twists and turns in the family dynamic of a single father of six, whose alcoholism seeps into every aspect of their lives.

Strategic Aim:

  • Demonstrate model behavior with stories: Compelling narratives like the organ donation story arc in “Shameless” create an opportunity for organizations to educate audiences about their issue and motivate them to take action, including donating time, money — or even organs.

What We Did:


AndACTION caught wind that several episodes of Shameless featured a story arc about organ donation tied to the show’s main character developing cirrhosis of the liver. We wrote a blog post for GLI’s audience about the storyline, helping them spread their message about organ donation. Although the show’s handling of the transplant story was wildly inaccurate, the way Shameless depicts liver disease is not — proof that even an imperfect storyline can give organizations a creative way to start conversations about their issue.


Global Liver Institute (GLI) is an organization committed to defeating liver disease by forming creative collaborations with seemingly unrelated stakeholders, such as a traditional health advocacy organization and a television show. To demonstrate how organizations combating liver disease can use the Shameless story arc, AndACTION wrote a blog post and provided a heads-up about relevant episodes. We also shared research conducted by Hollywood, Health & Society that revealed that a single episode of the drama series Numb3rs about organ donation motivated up to 10% of viewers to become organ donors.


GLI ran our post on their “Liver Matters” blog, shared it on their social media channels and featured it in their monthly newsletter, all of which helped raise awareness of organ donation.

Our successful collaboration also demonstrates that shows like Shameless — which airs on both Netflix and Showtime — can be leveraged to increase an issue’s visibility for months or even years after they debut because of digital streaming and time-shift watching.


Looking for a way to use pop culture to gain more visibility for your issue? AndACTION can assist philanthropic, nonprofit and other social good organizations in arranging strategic content, film screenings, social media campaigns, pop culture pivots and many other meaningful activities to create change. Thanks to our generous donors, our services are free of charge. For more information, please email us at