Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sons of Anarchy - Season 1

Sons was created by Kurt Sutter, one of the producers and more frequent writers on The Shield, which is one of the reasons I decided to make it my next show. I've heard that it started out anywhere from weak to only decent before blossoming as it went on, though to be honest I mostly enjoyed it from the beginning. The first season definitely improved as it built up its story and cast, but that germ of quality was always there. It's about a motorcycle club in Northern California that does illegal gun running to make money and pressures law enforcement to keep them out of trouble and businesses to avoid their home town of Charming to keep it small and away from federal attention. It could have been just another mob show on bikes, but they do enough to keep it unique, and the Hamlet-inspired story makes it a bit deeper than it might seem at first.

It's funny seeing the timing between Sons of Anarchy beginning and Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned coming a bit later, because they must have been developed around the same time. They definitely remind me of each other despite taking place on opposite coasts (theoretically), and leads me to believe they're both fairly accurate depictions of these kind of gangs. I've read how the motorcycle clubs are fundamentally different from other kinds of organized crime in that most organizations use violence as a means to the end of profit, the clubs are violent because it's fun and just happen to make money while they're doing it. The cast of Sons is mostly made up of the various gang members, and they do a really good job of making the group likable while never compromising on them being very bad people. Obvious standouts are Ron Perlman as Clay the club president and Katey Sagal as his wife Gemma, who despite her increasing age still has a power over the men her husband commands. Protagonist Jax is her son and Clay's step kid, vice president of the club who begins to question the gang's methods and beliefs after his son his born and he finds a manifesto written by his long-dead father about how the club went bad. It's a slow burning storyline, but it builds pretty brilliantly over the 13 episodes until the finale, which should have pretty major ramifications that will be interesting to watch play out. Not perfect, but very fun to watch.

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