In the history of television, there has never been a lead female character quite like Sons of Anarchy's Gemma Teller, who had the backbone of a whale and the ferocity of a rabid lion. (And the vocabulary of a drunken sailor.) A similar standout female role isn't readily available for FX's Sons spinoff Mayans MC, which has been one of the main criticisms aimed at the new action drama. But franchise co-creator Kurt Sutter has an explanation for why Mayans MC doesn't have a Gemma doppelgänger there from the start. In his words:
When I started Sons, there was never a mandate to have strong female characters. It was a show about bikers. It was action driven. But because of the nature of the world, the women played a bigger role. When we did the pilot for Mayans, we made the mistake of asking, 'Who are our strong female characters?' It was like, 'Oh we have to have a mother, then we have this love interest.' We had a mother in the pilot, but I spent so much time making her not be like Gemma that she became two-dimensional. I took that mandate away. I realized this is a show about two brothers and a father with clunky, sparse emotional skills. How do those men navigate in their ham-fisted way around all the high stakes emotional problems?
Understandably, Kurt Sutter was inclined to try and repeat some of the same successes he reached with Sons of Anarchy with the border-crossing new series. Obviously the core group of testosterone-fueled bikers was already a similar hook to the SAMCRO squad, so it probably looked like the only other major missing element was an assertive matriarch to rule the roost. Considering Sutter is married to Sons vet Katey Sagal, he's not lacking for reminders of such awesomeness.
But as he put it to EW, it was in trying to force the issue that Kurt Sutter realized he was actually doing a detriment to the show and the characters, so he and Elgin James strengthened the show's central focus on the three Reyes men -- J.D. Pardo's EZ, Clayton Cardenas' Angel and Edward James Olmos' Felipe -- whose lives were dramatically changed whenever they lost the family's matriarch. And with that as the revised focus, Mayans MC isn't creating any in-house pressure to build up the female characters to be as instantly memorable as Gemma, Maggie Siff's Tara, or Drea de Matteo's Wendy.
At this point, Mayans MC's female candidates for breakout stars are largely limited to Sarah Bolger's Emily and Carla Baratta's Adelita, and there's no clear front-runner without knowing how Sutter and James will play things. As EZ's innocent and put-upon high school sweetheart who moved up to a higher social status, Emily's current situation doesn't take long to get twisted into something harrowing, so it's possible she'll get out of the situation as guided by her inner beast mode. On the flip site, Adelita starts off as something of a badass rebel seeking revenge against the all-powerful Galindo cartel, so she could either continue being developed into a full-fledged lead, or her initial bravado could lead her to a quick demise. And, of course, it's possible that a woman who won't be introduced until Episode 6 will end up becoming the next greatest thing to Gemma Teller. We'll be able to judge her on a scale of one to ten gashes.
For those who weren't aware that the biker spinoff took two tries to land its footing, Sutter and Elgin James got Mayans MC into development at FX back in 2016, and an initial pilot was scripted, cast and produced. However, that pilot wasn't deemed strong enough to run with, which possibly had something to do with the more shoehorned-in elements. So after Sutter and James reworked the script, some of the Mayans roles were recast, and another director was brought in to helm the second effort. That's the one that sealed the deal, and is the one fans will be putting their peepers on first, so get ready.
Put on your most comfortable and least Mayans MC makes its roaring debut on FX on Tuesday, September 4, at 10:00 p.m. ET. To see what shows you'll be able to ride alongside at other points during the week, head to our fall TV premiere schedule.