Last year I stumbled across a show called Sons of Anarchy on Hulu. I saw that it starred Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Katie Sagal (Futurama, Married with Children). I was bored and had some work to do so I turned it on my second monitor to run in the background. Alas, I got no work done that evening and I had yet another show added to my weekly “can’t miss” list.
Sons of Anarchy is the creation of Kurt Sutter, who was a producer and writer on The Shield before getting this shot at his own show. It’s the story of a biker gang in the town of Charming, CA. The Sons are not exactly model citizens, but they like to be the only game in town. This leads to “disagreements” with gangbangers, skinheads, and other motorcycle clubs. But it also results in a safe town, free of drug dealers. The show does a great job of presenting the Sons as heroes of this small town and villains, usually in the same episode. If you’re in with the club, you’re okay. But if you cross them, things will escalate quickly.
Ron Perlman plays Clay Morrow, the leader of the Sons. Charlie Hunnam’s (Cold Mountain, Children of Men) Jax Teller is the central character, however. Clay is Jax’s stepfather and cofounded the Sons of Anarchy with Jax’s father. He also pushed hard to get the Sons into the gun running business and has everyone making a good living and manages to keep the constant chaos somewhat checked. Jax, however, is not entirely thrilled with the criminal element of the club and finding a diary that his father wrote does nothing to improve his attitude towards the gun running. This is one of the early conflicts of the show, but things get wilder as the first season continues.
Sons is filled with actors that will make most viewers say, “Oh! it’s that guy!” Tommy Flanagan (Braveheart, Alien vs. Predator), Mark Boone, Jr. (30 Days of Night, Batman Begins), Drea De Matteo (The Sopranos), and Kim Coates (Silent Hill, Waterworld) all have sizable roles and really make the most of them throughout the season. Especially amusing is Boone Jr. as a biker/Elvis impersonator.
When people ask about this show I tell them it’s a bit like The Sopranos with bikers, and that’s a pretty fair assessment. This is much more an ensemble than Sopranos was, though. While Jax is clearly the central character, he doesn’t dominate the stories the way Tony did. The stories are good, the writing excellent, and Sutter does a wonderful job of fleshing out all of the characters with their own subplots without overwhelming the viewer with a thousand little stories going on at once.
Sons of Anarchy returns on September 8 at 10:00 on FX. The end of Season One left a lot of potential drama and change for the Sons to be resolved. I’m sure that Sutter and the club will make the ride a lot of fun.