Sons of Anarchy may not be the most family-friendly program on television, but it’s certainly one of the most well-written. Kurt Sutter has taken the stereotypical members of an outlaw motorcycle gang and turned them into husbands, fathers, and sons. To the audience, the guys are more than a canker on society, and it doesn’t take long to love them all.
The first episode opens with the club’s vice president, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) riding his beloved motorcycle down a deserted highway in Charming, California with “Hard Row” by The Black Keys hypnotically playing in the background. Within the first few minutes, I realized that even if the show turned out to be absolutely terrible, it was going to have a great soundtrack. That’s something that seems to be missing from other TV shows–music that would be appropriate for a soundtrack. More than anything, you hear tones. Tones for sunny days. Tones for rainy days. Tones for when the love of your life breaks your heart, and tones for when you finally realize that things are going to get better. With Sons of Anarchy, the music has words, and still manages to be appropriate for the scene, giving the show a realistic feeling that I didn’t know I was missing.
Although the show begins concentrating on Jax’s relationship with the club and his pregnant, meth addict ex-wife, it doesn‘t take long to fan out and reveal a strong supporting cast. The club’s president, Clay Morrow (Ron Pearlman), simply looks as though he’s in charge. With his broad shoulders and booming voice, there is no questioning his authority. Even his strong-willed wife Gemma (Katey Segal), knows not to test him. Gemma is also Jax’s mother, making Clay his step-father. Jax’s biological father (and former club president) is dead and gone, only to be remembered through a memoir he wrote about the club but never published. Meanwhile, there is Jax’s best friend Opie, freshly released from prison and trying to balance his role as an outlaw in the club and as a husband and father at home. Sutter is more or less letting us know that this is what Jax has to look forward to with the impending birth of his son. And when Abel Teller comes along (ten weeks premature), we’re introduced to Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff), a doctor who fixes his bad heart and a tear in his belly. At first Tara is only important because of her connection to Abel, but in the latter half of both seasons three and four, Tara shows fans that while she may look harmless, she’s strong and capable when she needs to be.
Sons of Anarchy is a show that walks the thin line between right and wrong. Yes, in reality, running guns to gangs is wrong. But we acknowledge that this is how the club makes its money and that characters like Jax and Opie (whose father Piney is also a member) were born into it and know nothing else. Their dirty deeds are pushed to the back of our minds and if they do kill someone, it’s justified. For the forty-five minutes that Sons of Anarchy airs, it warps the mind. I find myself rooting for characters that, in any other series, would be villains, and Sutter does it without setting up a “lesser of two evils” situation. That, ladies and gentlemen, is fantastic writing.
And finally, something must be said for Charlie Hunnam. Besides being such a good actor, he garners eternal credit from me for faking an American accent so well. When it comes to pretending to be from the US, Hunnam walks with greats like Anna Friel (TV’s Pushing Daisies), Hugh Laurie (TV’s House, M.D.) and Idris Elba (This Christmas). Originally from Newcastle, England, Hunnam tucks away any semblance of an accent–you’d never know that he isn’t American. I’d even seen him on a UK show maybe six months before starting Sons of Anarchy and still couldn’t make the connection (which is rare for me). Well done Mr. Hunnam, well done.
Sons of Anarchy is a show that gives outlaws a heart and makes us all want to be just a little bit rebellious. But be warned: no one under the age of seventeen should stay up for this one.
Briana is an avid reader, a budding author, and a huge fan of anything and everything to do with Henry VIII. She considers herself a TV addict and over the years has watched a little bit of everything, both good and bad. A few of her personal favorites are The Big Bang Theory, Dexter, Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Sons of Anarchy.