“Riding through this world…something something…a crow flies straight, look at us we’re all in leather…”
Guns. Bikes. Unlikely plots.
BQB here with a review of FX’s Sons of Anarchy.
It has been off the air a couple years now, but surely you can find this show somewhere out there in the stream-a-verse. In fact, at the time of this writing, Netflix has all seven seasons available.
Travel back with me to 2008, 3.5 readers. A show called The Sopranos had just wrapped up a year before and was groundbreaking in its ability to bring viewers to cable movie channels.
Suddenly, everyone wanted to copy the Sopranos by putting out a TV show featuring a crime family. “It’s the Sopranos on a boat! It’s the Sopranos in space!”
Who knew that a show that was “Sopranos on motorcycles” would last for seven seasons?
Ironically, “Hamlet with Bikers” would be a better alternate title as the conflict between Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), his mother, Gemma Teller (Katey Sagal) and his step-father, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) was the overall main plot point of the series.
The set-up? Years prior to the start of the show, Jax’s after, John and Clay started the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club. John died under mysterious circumstances, Clay marries Gemma and as a grown man, Jax reads his father’s letters (because if it is one thing bikers are known for it is their prolific writings) detailing his hopes that “SAMCRO” would one day become a legitimate organization for gear heads to bond together in the spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood, yadda yadda yadda.
Not happening under Clay’s watch.
And thus, the Sons of Anarchy formula is born:
- The Sons agree to push drugs, run guns, or engage in some other illegal activity in league with another criminal organization.
- Shit hits the fan and the Sons are shocked, absolutely SHOCKED to learn that pushing drugs, running guns, or conducting other illegal activities causes all manner of dangerous consequences.
- The Sons want out of the aforementioned illegal activity, but to get out of it, they must somehow do some sort of illegal task for the criminal organization they aligned themselves with, or engage in more illegal activity on the behalf of a new criminal organization in order to get them to take on the job they signed up to do for the original criminal organization.
- When all is said and done, the Sons expend massive amounts of time, energy, money, manpower, and yes, even life as members of their ranks are killed all the time and yet they never, ever turn a profit on any of the illegal activity they engage in. They are, by far, the worst criminals in the history of crime and one wonders why they don’t just take half the time, money and energy they use on crime and put it towards legitimate enterprise.
In fact, every week when this show was on the air, I yearned for the following scene that never happened:
:::Jax and the boys gather around the table.:::
JAX: OK. We need money. Any ideas?
TIG: Let’s sell drugs!
JUICE: Let’s run guns!
RANDOM MEMBER: Let’s take our profits from the Teller-Morrow Garage, utilize the assistance of a reputable asset management planner to invest in stocks and bonds that yield positive dividends and then use the proceeds to start more garages, gas stations, and tow truck companies, thereby taking our love of automobile repair and using it to become respectable members of society.
:::Gang looks at each other:::
JAX: Take a walk, Random Member. You’re out of the club! Surrender your cut!
FYI – “surrendering your cut” means taking away your spiffy Sons of Anarchy vest, by far the worst and most humiliating punishment one can suffer in the SAMCRO organization.
Every TV show requires you to suspend a certain amount of disbelief, this one more than others.
The fact that no one in the club ever thinks, “Gee whiz, I could make more money flipping burgers at McDonald’s than I do as Jax’s lackey” is something that you’re never supposed to think about, nor are you supposed to consider the fact that if the Sons would take all the planning skills they use to concoct their elaborate schemes, they could probably put those skills to work in legit fields.
I know whenever I see someone in the Fast and Furious hacking twenty computers at the same time I end up wondering why they just don’t get a job in Silicon Valley and the same logic applies here.
Above all else, you are also not supposed to ask yourself why Jax’s girlfriend, the beautiful Dr. Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff) gives Jax the time of day.
Jax and Tara had once been teenage sweethearts. At the start of the show, Tara has become a doctor and returns to town to take a position as a surgeon (yes, she is a surgeon dating a motorcycle gang leader but you aren’t supposed to scratch your head over that one at all.)
Look I get it. Love makes people do strange things. The heart wants what it wants.
All I’m saying is that if I’m Jax and I’ve got a super hot doctor girlfriend, I’m going to be all like, “OK you shitheads have fun running those guns, I’m going to chill at home and change the kids’ diapers while my wife brings home the bacon. Shit, maybe I’ll get a part-time job at Auto Zone and get my two year associate’s degree to make the little woman proud.”
Sigh. Lady doctors, you’re all so unappreciated by your motorcycle gang leader boyfriends.
Funny thing about the show though is that as unlikely as the story arcs were, they got the fans talking about the show and if people are talking about your show, then you’ve struck gold.
And to show creator Kurt Sutter’s credit, that gold lasted seven seasons.
Charlie Hunnam is great as the morally conflicted Jax who yearns to go legit yet always has one more criminal misdeed to carry out to save his family and/or friends (again, put the “why doesn’t he just let his doctor girlfriend handle the money” question out of your mind).
Dayton Callie also provides an excellent performance as Wayne Unser, the equally morally conflicted police chief of Charming, California who begrudgingly works with the Sons out of a fear that they protect the town from worse evils.
Worth checking out but…suspend disbelief and uh…have a strong stomach as the bikers and various criminals aren’t exactly kind to each other throughout the show, as you might imagine.