What I'm Watching: Sons of Anarchy

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FX's Sons of Anarchy is not a show I would have picked out to watch from the description. From the website:

FX's original series, Sons of Anarchy, is an adrenalized drama with darkly comedic undertones that explores a notorious outlaw motorcycle club's (MC) desire to protect its livelihood while ensuring that their simple, sheltered town of Charming, California remains exactly that, Charming. The MC must confront threats from drug dealers, corporate developers, and overzealous law officers. Behind the MC's familial lifestyle and legally thriving automotive shop is a ruthless and illegally thriving arms business. The seduction of money, power, and blood.

Jackson 'Jax' Teller (Charlie Hunnam) is the MC's vice-president, whose loyalty to the club is tested by his growing apprehension for its lawlessness; Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal) is Jax's force-of-nature mother; and Clarence 'Clay' Morrow (Ron Perlman) is Jax's stepfather and MC president. The triangle of Mother, Son, and Stepfather will ultimately reveal the dark secrets in this family's past and the lengths they will go to protect their sins.

Outlaw motorcycle clubs are really not a big area of interest for me. And Ron Perlman pisses me off when he's not painted red. Wouldn't have given it a second look.

But, a couple of weeks ago, M. and I were watching a movie on FX (OK, so it was Ghost Rider--embarrassing to admit that, but there it is) and every single commercial break featured an ad for the Sons of Anarchy Season Two premiere. So we gave it a shot. I was hooked by the 15th minute. Now we're keeping up with this season as the episodes air while simultaneously catching up on the first season via Netflix. And I'm doing what I always do with shows I really like--thinking up alternate plot lines and characters in my head while I'm trying to go to sleep at night.

It's a good show. First of all, Katey Segal (remember her from Married...With Children?) is fantastic. Her character, Gemma, is a sort of Lady Macbeth matriarch, with that great vicious/conniving/caring combination, and she plays the hell out of it. Plus, she's admirably tough (I'm thinking about reviewing SOA for Heroine Content because of her, depending on what ends up happening this season). She's that rarest of TV gems--a well-written and well-acted female character. When I learned that the role was written specifically for Segal, by her husband, who produces the show, I was not at all surprised.

Ron Perlman's character, Clay, is also really interesting. I am still not a big fan of Perlman (I just can't see anything but Hellboy when I look at him), but I keep imagining the same character played by Ian McShane and that helps me appreciate the character more. He's a ruthless guy, but also one who is dedicated to his family--both Gemma and the club. And the underlying plot device of him dealing with the onset of age (he has arthritis and has increasing trouble with his hands as the show progresses) is a good one.

Mostly, though, as far as characters go, I'm watching the show for Jax. Jax is amazing. He's a motorcycle gang Hamlet (you knew you recognized this storyline from somewhere, right?), but with less whining and more ass-kicking. I know I should be over it by now, but that whole poet-barbarian thing still definitely awakens something in me. And Charlie Hunnam is just about perfect (which I never would have expected from his roles in Cold Mountain and Children of Men).

The motorcycle gang aspect of the show is really not important, at least not to me. It's about loyalty and family and growing up and all that jazz, and the backdrop to that really doesn't make that much difference. Though there is overlap between the world portrayed in SOA and the one portrayed in another FX show I used to like, The Shield, the two don't really relate in my mind. Sons of Anarchy reminds me more of two other shows--The Sopranos and Deadwood. Though the backdrops are obviously very different, it has the same kind of intense character development and the same almost-melodramatic Shakespearean undertones. I'm very excited to see what comes next.

3 Comments

I just started watching this too! I also would not have thought it would be up my alley. Katy Seagal is good, but she's pretty good in everything (she's Leila on Futurama, too).

Perhaps because of where I am in the series, I really don't think of Gemma as a character to be looked up to by women. She's kind of the traditional meddling manipulative bitch.

I knew you'd be a Jax fan! I mean he's like a poor man's Kurt Cobain.

I agree that it's the same as Sopranos/Deadwood, and I thought the same thing. But I don't like either of those shows, so I dunno why I like this one. But second season has Henry Rollins as an Aryan, in possibly the most ridiculous typecasting of all time. I am conflicted--I love Hank but he's always wearing a swastika. Creepy.

I find the gun trading parts boring too, but I do like the double crossing/club history/family part.

I am also in the same boat; found out I liked this series even though I never would have thought so. Even went out and bought the season 1 DVD set to catch up. You're welcome to borrow it if you want.

Have you gotten to the S1 plotline about Tara and her stalker ex-boyfriend? It was resolved in a very . . .interesting . . . way. I would love to hear your opinion about it when you get to that point.

this show is one of the best show i have ever seen

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