Watching Sons of Anarchy
Friday, December 5, 2008
Is anyone else out there watching the FX show Sons of Anarchy
? Of course you are, it is a new hit for FX and coming back for a second season. My views of the outlaw biker drama have been sporadic, really just two full shows - but it was an entertaining couple hours of television. For those not in the know, let me summarize: SOA is like the Sopranos on motorcycles with a heavy helping of Shakespeare mixed in.
I'm serious! Bill Shakespeare should get a producing credit because the plot of the show was intentionally copied straight out of Hamlet. The series’ protagonist, Jax played by British actor Hunnam, is heir apparent to the Sons of Anarchy, an outlaw motorcycle gang founded by his father. The young “prince” follows, reluctantly at times, the leadership of SOA’s new commander, Clay (Ron Pearlman), after the murky death of his father. Following up with the Hamlet vibe, the ghost father is fulfilled by a secret journal discovered by Jax, in which his father details how the SOA have lost their way and descended into criminality… Conflict and drama follow. If you don’t know the plotline of Hamlet, I won’t ruin it for you.
Katey Segal plays Jax’s mother, Gemma, and is great as the matriarch/tough Biker mamma, even though she’ll always be Peg Bundy to us. Pearlman as Clay Morrow the SOA leader is solid too, relishing the part (In case you don’t recognize him the character actor starred as the heavy browed-jawed Hellboy). The supporting roles are pretty good – I especially dug Mitch Pileggi (Skinner from the X Files) as the tattooed leader of the Nords – one of the SOA’s many rivals.
There are some flaws in the show. The whole premise of the heroic biker gang protecting its home turf from evil by being the less evil gang – it’s a little hard to swallow. As is buying the tortured conscience of Jax. In one episode I saw, after eagerly assisting in a casual murder for hire, the moody Hamlet figure was emoting some introspection while burning the garbage-bag-wrapped corpse of his victim out in the desert.
Now, I’m not Moses or Hammarabi, but may I be so bold as to say that if you’re burning a garbage-bag-wrapped corpse in the desert, you’ve crossed a couple of moral and ethical boundaries!
One big knock about SOA is it propagates negative stereotypes about motorcycle riders... Similar complaints leveled at the Sopranos (which, I really never got into – Sorry, I don't have HBO!) Still, SOA makes for good TV, and I think most viewers will get the difference between the 99% and the true criminal/outlaw gangs that revel in their 1% status.
Overall, the gritty violence/language/drug use may turn off some, but other will find it good TV. SOA is definitely worth checking out.
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