TV Review: Sons of Anarchy
Sons of Anarchy - Season 1
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlma, Mark Boone Jr, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Johnny Lewis, Maggie Siff
Created By: Kurt Sutter
Premieres: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 10:00 PM ET on FX
Sons of Anarchy is an original FX drama series that centers on a Motorcycle Club that resides in the town of Charming, California. Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) is the leader of the gang and one of the original founders of the motorcycle club (MC). Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) is the son of another founder of the MC, the deceased John Teller. Jax’s mother is Gemma (Katey Sagal). She’s married to Clay, making Clay Jax’s stepfather.
Among the crew is Bobby Munson (Mark Boone Jr.), a big man who knows explosives. Chibs Telford (Tommy Flanagan) is Scottish-born and grew up on the rough streets of Belfast. And then there’s Tig Trager (Kim Coates). Tig is the muscle who watches out for Clay. He likes to hurt things. The pilot episode introduces all of the above characters as well as some of the other club members and the local law enforcement, who also plays a major part on the MC’s world.
We learn two things early on about the MC. The first is that these guys run their club like a business. They’re involved in a number of illegal operations, including running guns and selling them to gangs. The other important thing to know about this group is in addition to being like a business; they’re also like a family. Clay is the leader, though his arthritis could eventually dethrone him once he’s unable to ride. Gemma is the tough and protective matriarch. She looks out for the club as though they really were her family and anyone that poses a threat to her family better watch out.
Jax is Vice President of the Club and is likely to be next in line to lead the club. He’s got a quick temper but is not without a heart. We see both sides of his personality in the pilot episode when he learns that his pregnant ex-wife, Wendy (Drea De Matteo) nearly kills their unborn baby when she can no longer resist the urge to shoot-up. It is in the hospital after Wendy’s overdose that Jax crosses paths with Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff), his high school sweetheart, now a pediatric doctor. It’s clear that while these two may have chosen different paths, there is still a connection between them.
Needless to say, Sons of Anarchy is full of character drama but we also get more than a glimpse into the dangerous business that these men are involved in, in addition to how the club affects their families. Part of what the men are trying to do is keep The Nords, a local white supremacy group from expanding their meth-dealing business throughout Charming.
There are also elements of humor in the series. For example, MC member Kip “Half-Sack” Epps brags about his nickname, having gone to serve in Iraq with two testicles and returning with only one. He’s not the brightest bulb in the club but he’s got a big heart and often serves to lighten the mood a bit when things are getting crazy.
From what I can tell, Sons of Anarchy is one of those messy series where the line between the good-guys and the bad-guys is extremely blurry. That’s not a complaint though. This is often what makes so many of FX’s original series worthwhile because you don’t always know what to expect from the characters. One of the things I found so intriguing about SoA was when Jax finds and begins to read his deceased father’s journal. He begins to learn that the original intention of the club is not what the lawless group has evolved into. Gemma doesn’t appear to believe in whatever vision her late husband once had for the club but Jax does seem to be taken in by it and I’m interested to see if and how that could impact the club in the future.
One final thing that needs to be said about Sons of Anarchy is that while it is well written and directed, the actors also bring a lot to their characters. Many of us remember Katey Sagal from her role as Peggy Bundy in Married with Children but there’s hardly a shred of that airheaded, complaining woman in Sagal’s character in SoA. Gemma is a strong, powerful and occasionally scary woman who doesn’t appear to show any remorse for her actions (some of which are morally questionable) because she believes she has to do what needs to be done for the good of her family and the club. And putting aside the fact that Charlie Hunnam is delicious to look at (especially with the jacket, the scruffy hair and the bike – ok, enough drooling), what’s more, he portrays Jax as a quick-tempered young guy who definitely has some growing up to do but at the same time, shows a lot of intelligence, motivation and many leadership qualities that suggest he will eventually be ready to take over the club. The rest of the cast is also exceptional, which is just one more reason why I recommend checking out this series.
Below are some promotional videos for Sons of Anarchy:
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