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|Written by Emily Goodacre|
|Monday, 28 March 2011 17:12|
Sons of Anarchy (F/X, now between its 3rd and 4th seasons) is, to put it mildly, bitchin'. I would argue that, in fact, it's the most badass show currently on television (RIP Deadwood and The Wire). When the show debuted, naysayers derided the show as The Sopranos on motorcycles, but to that I rebut, "...so?" This show is that and so much more. It is a Hamlet-esque tale of family loyalty and betrayal, an existential treatise on the possibilities of morality outside of lawful society, and a kick-ass display of hot dudes firing guns from their massive choppers. What more could we want?
For the purposes of this article, I'm going to discuss only the 1st season, in the hopes that those of you who don't already watch will begin at the beginning.
The show takes place in the fictional small Northern California town of Charming, home of the founding charter (local chapter) of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club. They are known as the Redwood Originals and thus are often referred to as SAMCRO (or Sam Crow). The Sons were formed when nine men came back from Vietnam disillusioned and unable to easily fit into regular American society, formed a motorcycle club, and became known as the "first 9." The original intent of the club was freedom (in the Easy Rider sense) and only later, upon the death of founding member John Teller, did the club begin to deal in serious crime and expand charters across the country (in the Hell's Angels sense).
The Sons deal mainly in running guns (mostly for the IRA) and protection rackets. They occasionally run up against other motorcycle gangs (divided strictly along racial lines -- African-American, Mexican-American and white supremacist) and federal law enforcement.
Let's look at some of the major players, shall we?
Jackson 'Jax' Teller: Our protagonist, Jax, is Vice President of Sam Crow (played by Charlie Hunnam). Jax's father, John Teller, founded the club and Jax is a prince-like figure (Hamlet, see?). Season 1 begins with the birth of Jax's son Abel (a name fraught with significance), and fatherhood forces him to think about the state of his life, and the direction of the club. Also? Hot.
Clay Morrow: Clay is the club President and Jax's stepfather (played by Ron Perlman). Actually, I'm not sure if he and Jax's mother are legally married, but she is his 'old lady.' the motorcycle-gang equivalent. Clay was first 9 with John Teller, and it's implied that he (and possibly Gemma) had something to do with his death. Clay loves Jax like a son but fears his power being usurped, particularly as he ages.
Gemma Teller-Morrow: I want to be Gemma when I grow up. Jax's mother acts as matriarch of the club and any one of them would take a bullet for her. She is tough as nails but can be surprisingly sweet (the love between her and Clay is one of the most touching aspects of the show). She is murderously protective of her son and grandson and is not above deceit and manipulation but also feels vulnerable as she ages out of the hot biker babe identity she has created for herself. I was thrilled when Katy Sagal won the 2011 Golden Globe for this role, as she plays the most complex character on the show.
Tara Knowles: Jax's high-school girlfriend Tara (played by Maggie Siff) was deep in the Sam Crow scene but left town to get her life together and attend medical school (breaking Jax's wee heart in the process). Season 1 sees Tara returning to Charming after 10 years away, causing a resurgence of feeling in Jax and suspicion by Gemma, who doesn't forgive easily. Tara is torn between her feelings for Jax and her desire for a normal life, and it's telling of this show that (SPOILER ALERT) the cold-blooded murder of her stalker-ex is the equivalent of a sweet wooing gesture (me: "awwwwwww!").
The po-po: Local Police Chief Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) looks the other way when it comes to the Sons because they keep violence and drugs out of Charming. He has even been known to come to them with problems that can't be easily solved legally. Likely part of his tie to the Sons is his un-requited and un-voiced love for Gemma. Nevertheless, Unser is slowly dying of cancer and his by-the-book Deputy Chief David Hale (Taylor Sheridan) has no intention of accommodating the club when he takes over the department. Further complicating things is the arrival of Agent June Stahl (Ally Walker), a sociopathic ATF agent, who will stop at nothing (including murder) to bring the Sons down.
Harry 'Opie' Winston: Opie is the closest thing to a pure soul on the show. Also, he knows how to work a beard and tuque combo, damn! In Season 1, Opie is recently out of prison for club-related crimes and is trying to make his living legally at the insistence of his wife. Opie endures some heartbreaking tribulations, and I have a massive crush on the character (played by Ryan Hurst).
Alex 'Tig' Trager: Tig is the enforcer of the group (played by Kim Coates), committing frequent hot-headed acts of violence, which puts him at odds with Jax's more strategic approach to the business. Tig is profoundly loyal to Clay but feels Jax doesn't deserve his position as VP. He's somewhat peripheral in the first season, but Tig goes through the most character development on the show as the series continues.
That was extensive, but I can't help loving this show and its characters! Even now I'm itching to talk about Juice, Piney, Happy, Chibs, and Half-Sack (they get pretty creative with the nicknames). To be fair, there are valid criticisms to be levelled at the show, particularly in its treatment of women (they are generally sex objects, psychos or both, and are often passed around like joints at club events). The violence may also prove a bit much for some. But if you like HBO and F/X style gritty dramas, please do yourselves a favour and check this show out.
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Tags: anarchy, canadian girls love tuques, choppers, f/x, motorcycles are hot, peg bundy ftw, sam crow, sons of anarchy, tv