I believe the amount of flak this series receives, especially from the overbiased U.C. and Western Gundam fans, is just too damn ridiculous or unjustified (I could get flak myself for saying the latter right about now from said group/s for saying that). Sure, this series has a lot of flaws, but for the most part, I actually enjoyed this series, especially when I was in high school when I first watched it, despite said flaws, as well as the problems the writers had at the time they were doing this show.
About Shinn, I do dislike him, I do. I really do. I used to think a lot of his wangstiness, especially towards the end of the series, was unjustified. At some point, however, I came to realize that he was actually, probably, the most realistic character in the series. Sure, his character development was all negative. But, come on, how would YOU feel if you were in his shoes? Personally, I would feel heavily traumatized and go into the despair-horizon if all the people I cared for died around me one by one and had no one left to cling to for comfort.
Secondly, about Kira and Lacus "stealing the spotlight" at ep. 39, I think it was a mixed blessing (it was foreshadowed in the openings, after all). I'm not saying I was ENTIRELY happy with it, but it was kind of good, for me at least, that they did that, although at first I myself didn't quite get it until I reached college when I watched the HD Remaster. I realized during my rewatching that Durandal really was a manipulative trickster akin to Hitler and the Nazis, despite what those pesky fanboys and fangirls of his would say otherwise about him being the real "Big Good". Although, I do kind of agree with the haters that Lacus did somewhat act like a villain, although based on what they did in the previous series, I think saying that she was the real main villain was too much or just plain trolling.
What I loved about the series most especially were the MS designs, which I still love to the point that I still collect the Gunplas. The music comes a close 2nd place. The story was the weakest, as it took me several rewatches to finally get everything.
To conclude, I think the series deserves much more love from the Western fanbases. The overbiased Western Gundam fans are to blame. and, just in case you're wondering, I loathe Gundam AGE, so don't worry about me not having good tastes.