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Jessica Jumps In: A Newbie's Sample Of Sons Of Anarchy

Dramas can be a tough sell, and there’s none tougher than Sons of Anarchy, FX’s motorcycle gang drama is all about brotherhood and loyalty. The show’s been on the air for most of five seasons, and has been wreaking havoc for nearly all of that time. There’s never a dull moment in Sons of Anarchy, but precisely because there is never a dull moment, some of us may never have found a good reason to jump in and give the series a shot. If the lengthy “scenes from last week” segment at the beginning of each episode doesn’t clue you in to the complications of the series, I’m not sure anything could. However, the real question is whether or not SOA is worth getting into this late in the game.

While there are shows that are easier to invest in if they are watched from Day 1, luckily there are plenty of shows with the ease of plot or the writing finesse to help people to jump into any episode and get involved with a new series. To determine whether a show falls in to the former or latter camp, TV Blend writer Jessica Rawden has vowed to watch episodes of shows she’s never seen before and analyze those show in different areas to let you, the reader, know how quickly you could become a fan. This week Jessica is tackling Sons of Anarchy’s Season 5 Episode 10 drama “Crucified.”

1. Quality Of Story

Before the show even gets past the scenes from last week, it’s vividly apparent that Sons of Anarchy is a dense and detailed endeavor, sketched out carefully to create tons of drama and leave an intense impression on viewers. Precisely because there is so much going on, it’s difficult to just drop into the story and know who to trust and who to root for. Unfolding this mystery is half the fun, though, and certainly says something about the quality of the script.

I could see how the petty infights in the crew and the standoffs between various motorcycle clubs could potentially get repetitive, but just one episode in—and a special 1 ½ long (with commercials) episode at that—the storyline is gripping, and all of the various characters seem connected. One plot flows into another capably, and characters seem to show up in different scenes for reasons that make sense. It’s hard to tell 100% of what is going on after only one episode, but there’s no doubting this is a quality show.

2. Quality Of Characters

The characters in Sons of Anarchy live by their own moral code. Despite the ties the club brings, they all have different outlooks. There’s Jax, the young hotheaded leader of the Sons, who’s out to prove something and Gemma, the hard, loyal woman who can’t let her piece of crap partner totally go (from my one viewing, I couldn’t really tell whether she was married to him or not). They may look a little different than characters in other TV shows, but inherently the characters in Sons of Anarchy are as diverse as they are familiar, just like most good programs.

Which is why I would argue Sons of Anarchy relies more on its setting and backdrop to wow audiences and to supplement the quality of its characters. The show is set in the fictional town of Charming, with enough concrete and eyesore buildings to make the leather and chains of the gangs inhabiting the town look commonplace. It’s an epic vision, and it makes the characters pop even more than a prettier setting might. Charming is not so charming, but it’s the perfect backdrop for a show that is almost as heart-wrenching as it is engaging.

3. Likelihood Of Staying On Air

There’s some good news and some bad news on the ‘staying on air’ forefront. The good news is that FX stands by creator Kurt Sutter and the show. It’s very likely the series could stay on air for as long as it wanted, provided it continued to bring in viewers. Currently, the show has been renewed for Season 6, and is likely to be given a seventh run at bat, as well. Last month, actor Charlie Hunnam even implied the show might get an eighth. Season 5 isn’t the worst time to jump into Sons of Anarchy.

However, even with a few more guaranteed seasons, there are nearly five completed seasons of drama that already aired on FX. Is it really worth jumping in to maybe get to watch one or two more seasons of the show? That’s an investment that seems like it might give little in return, but you’ll have to be the one to decide whether or not that is worth it.

4. Necessary Investment Level

Season 5 may not be the worst time to jump into Sons of Anarchy, but it isn’t the best time, either. With vivid details and complex relationships woven between the characters in the motorcycle gang, the characters in other gangs, and the gang members’ personal lives, there is a lot going on in FX’s drama. If you are going to jump in next week, it’s going to take someone well versed in the show to catch you up, and that person is going to have to hold your hand until you are fully integrated into the program’s universe.

Sons of Anarchy is a show where serious investment is necessary. The plotlines demand it, and if you aren’t going to watch each week, there’s really no point. If you miss more than one week, the show has left you in the dust, and good riddance. From my one integration into the series, I find it hard to believe anyone could watch the show casually and still enjoy it. It seems like an all or nothing sort of deal.

The Good, The Bad, And Whether You Should Watch

From my one viewing of the series, I could tell the show does a good job of balancing an ensemble cast and different plotlines. In “Crucified,” there were a few moments that were so harrowing when played out onscreen that I am unlikely to ever forget them, including the questioning of a rival gang member and a horrific scene featuring a cross.

Sons of Anarchy isn’t the sort of show you drop in on for a relaxing evening at home. It takes a little work, and the payoff is often rife with misery and distress. At the end of the day, worthwhile things almost never come easy, and Sons of Anarchy seems like it would be worth the work. So, if it sounds like something your moral compass can handle, jump in, and maybe even buy or rent the first few seasons, beforehand.

To see more Jessica Jumps In, click here.

Jessica Rawden

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.