Why You Should Watch... Sons of Anarchy

Category: , , , , By Rev/Views

Back in April 2002 a controversial young show named The Shield aired it's fifth episode, a piece titled "Blowback", featuring one disturbing Armenian foot fetishist hit man named Margos Dezerian. The actor portraying this memorable villain was also the writer of the episode - one Kurt Sutter - a man who would go on to pen the truly heartbreaking episode "Of Mice and Lem" and the incredible jaw dropping penultimate episode of the season "Parricide".

The same year that The Shield's amazing swan song came to a close (2008) a new show arrived on FX, penned by this same aforementioned Kurt Sutter. A show purporting to be something of a spiritual successor to The Shield in style if not in content.

Sons of Anarchy
is that very show, revolving around the lives and experiences of one chapter in the titular outlaw motorcycle gang this is a brutish show about men who live and die by the motorcycle (but more often by the gun). The show stars Charlie Hunnam (Undeclared, Queer as Folk) as Jax Teller the Vice President, Sons of Anarchy: California. Katey Sagal (Futurama, 8 Simple Rules... for Dating My Teenage Daughter and of course Married with Children) as Gemma Teller Morrow - Jax's mother and wife of Club President Clarence "Clay" Morrow - played by Ron Perlman (Hellboy and hundreds of other things I mean come on, you know who Ron Perlman is!) Also joining these three are Mark Boone Junior, Johnny Lewis, Maggie Siff, Kim Coates and Tommy Flanagan.

The Sons live in the sleepy town of Charming, California and through an agreement with Police Chief Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) they keep their business out of town and as such ensure that the streets are (relatively) safe. Well as safe as it can be when there is a gang of gun running motorcycle enthusiasts riding about with impunity...

Sons of Anarchy has been touted as the show to fill the void that The Shield has left behind, and there's no disputing that Sons is a spiritual successor in many aspects. It's even (tentatively) set in the same universe as The Shield and though there's little chance the indomitable Victor Mackey would make an appearance (especially after the events of The Shield's final season) the 1'9ers do indeed feature in the show, as does a familiar looking Los Angeles.

Likewise the show has that same brutish, action packed throttle to it. It's a show which brings macho to the table and isn't afraid to sit about grunting, scratching itself and drinking beer while strangling a bear. Similarly the show is about the good in bad people, really bad people in fact, but people with a code (no women, no innocents).

But that's sort of where the similarity ends, because while Kurt Sutter had significant input into The Shield he wasn't the guiding voice and as such he didn't shape the tone of the show. Sons on the other hand is entirely his baby and as such it brings differences in story telling and pacing. The show feels more immature than The Shield, while Kurt has the lofty (and commendable) ideal of basing the story around a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet - the first season does feel a little rough at times, it's lacking the same gravitas and edge it's parent show had.

At least, it's like that for a while. But the final few episodes of the first season do indeed kick things into a higher gear, setting the stage for what promises to be an enjoyable and gripping second season. Many of the cast give exceptional performances from the start (especially Ron and Katey), while others grow into their roles (as much as allowed by their characters anyway - I'm very fond of Theo Rossi as "Juice" for example). Many of the guest star performances are also great; amongst the notable ones are Ally Walker, Jay Karnes, Drea de Matteo and Taylor Sheridan. Ally in particular is fantastic as Agent Stahl, giving the show a character with surprising depth and menace for our erstwhile "heroes".

But the bottom line is this - Will you enjoy Sons of Anarchy? Well if you watched The Shield previously then I think it's safe to say that you'll be positively predisposed towards enjoying it. Just don't expect to be watching The Shield² and things should click with you. For everyone else; if you enjoy dramas with a sense of humor and a bit of unreality to them - like say Rescue Me. Or prefer things to have a mix of action, motorcycles, guns, Americans, Scottish and Irishmen then you're in luck. Sons of Anarchy could be right up your street, so take it for a ride.


2 comments so far.

  1. wolfhound 8 December 2009 at 02:30
    Given that we seem to have similar tastes I think that I will checking it out. I don't want to stat midstream so I will have to look for season 1.

  2. Rev/Views 8 December 2009 at 18:58
    I know the first season is coming out on DVD in the US soon. Which should mean we'll see Region 2 releases next year.

    It's definitely worth giving a go - and I think you're right not to start watching partway through. Start from the beginning.

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