Mayhem On A Motorcycle: The Sons Of Anarchy

Vanessa Kelly, here. And, yes. I am late to the party on this one, but my "new" favorite show is the FX drama, The Sons Of Anarchy. It's the best high concept program I've seen in ages: the adventures of a motorcycle club played out with all the drama of a Shakespearean tragedy. The characters are riveting, the stakes are high, and the moral ambiguities are so challenging that it's sometimes difficult to figure out the good guys from the bad. Honestly, the whole show is like The Sopranos on steroids, which is really saying something! But, like The Sopranos, The Sons is so good because it does challenge our assumptions about good and evil, and makes us care for a group of characters we would normally write off as loathsome creeps.

The hero of the show is Jax Teller, the MC's vice-president, who grows ever more concerned about the club's increasing lawlessness, and who wants to remodel the Sons along the lines envisioned by his dead father, one of the club's original founders. Jax's biggest challenge is Gemma and Clay, his mother and step-father. Gemma and Clay are hiding some very big, very dark secrets - think Hamlet and you've basically got the picture.

Jax's moral struggles form the core of the show, as he tries to imagine both his role and his future in the club.

There were two reasons I didn't watch this show from the beginning. The first was that it's not available on Canadian TV, and it just wasn't that convenient to get it on DVD. The scecond was that I didn't care to watch a show about a bunch of outlaws and people I tend to think of as dirtballs. After all, what could their lives say to me? But when one of my favorite writers, the perceptive and talented Teresa Medeiros, raved about the show, I realized I should give it a chance. Teresa is an incredibly good writer, with mad craft skills, so I wasn't about to ignore her recommendation.

Was I ever glad I started watching. If I could name only one show that I thought aspiring writers should watch, it would be The Sons of Anarchy. It's got every lesson a writer needs to learn - how to craft complex, interesting, and emotionally valid characters, how to structure a strong story ARC, and how to create high stakes. The themes are riveting and primal: loyalty, treachery, family, revenge. And the show is ultimately majestic in scope, a real achievement given a cast of characters and storylines that should, by all rights, make the viewer very uncomfortable. It should be a hard show to watch, but every time I do I can't wait for the next episode.

Oh, and did I mention that it's often really funny? In a very dark way, of course, but that's part of the charm. As in Charming, the home of the Sons!

Any other fans of SAM CRO out there? Who's your favorite character? I think I would have to vote for Gemma, myself.


  1. I haven't seen it yet, but it's one of my joys in life to discover a series that I want to devour. Thanks for the heads-up on this one.

  2. Vanessa - this is one show that i really want to watch! Hopefully at some point it'll be on demand up here in Canuck land!


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