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Sons of Anarchy is like the TV show you don’t want to take home to meet your mother. On the outside it looks rough, angry and unapproachable, but on the inside it’s familial, passionate and heartwarming. It’s a Shakespearean tragedy on wheels and the kind of compelling television that will make you never judge a book by it’s cover—or a biker by his jacket—ever again.
Sure, the Sons of Anarchy are a bunch of booze-drinking, skull-cracking, woman-using gangsters who make their money from selling firearms and pornography—but they’re also a family. These men of mayhem care deeply about one another and all of their actions, no matter how despicable, are always for the good of the family and the good of their community.
The show’s strongest suit is its use of colorful, yet complex, characters. Series lead Charlie Hunnam plays Jackson Teller, the club’s VP and son of a founding member who finds himself trapped between the ideal club his father wanted and the state of the club as it is today. Leading the motorcycle club is Jackson’s stepfather Clay Morrow, a founding member played expertly by television vet Ron Perlman.
These two have an antagonistic father-and-son relationship that mirrors the conflict between Hamlet and King Claudius. The two feel deep love and respect for one another, but find themselves butting heads on how to run the club—and who should really be in charge.
Caught in the middle is Clay’s old lady and Jackson’s mother, Gemma Teller-Morrow, played by Katey Sagal. Gemma is a strong-willed, manipulative momma bear and Sagal portrays her with such conviction that you barely remember she once wore a red bouffant wig on Married with Children. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Jackson’s girlfriend Tara Knowles, a neo-natal surgeon played by Mad Men’sMaggie Siff. Her character’s development from doctor to old lady, as well as her complex relationship with Gemma, makes for some of the best moments on the show.
I never thought I’d find myself getting into this “biker” show, but Sons of Anarchy is about much more than just a motorcycle gang. Not since The Wire have I found myself loving such a colorful bunch of misfits who all intersect and connect with one another. You root for killers and thieves and outlaws because the show does such a good job of making you want to root for them.
Sons of Anarchy was recently renewed for another two seasons on FX, which means that these boys of SAMCRO are here to stay. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Sons or if the idea of a biker show has previously turned you away, drop your preconceptions at the door and check out the earlier season on-demand or on DVD. Then get ready for two more heart-pounding seasons of must-see TV.
First there was Armageddon and Deep Impact. A Bug’s Life and Antz. Gordy and Babe. Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror, Mirror. And now, thanks to CBS, we have a new War Between the Screen Entertainments With Similar Subjects. Continue reading →
I have a sick and twisted girlfriend. She is a masochist of the highest degree who delights in subjecting herself to the most deranged horror and psychologically dark shows that you could possibly imagine. That wouldn’t be so bad, except that she is extremely sensitive to horror, so much so that we had to sleep with the lights on for over a week after watching Paranormal Activity.
She tears through Criminal Minds like the Hamburgler rips through cheeseburgers. She’s obsessed with the show, seemingly addicted to the demented psychological horrors depicted on the show.
So, by way of osmosis, that pretty much makes me an expert on Criminal Minds, also. That gives me the distinguished privilege of telling you what you can expect if you ever jump into Criminal Minds.
It Will Make You Want to Buy a Baseball Bat
I’m a pretty cheerful guy. I’m generally trusting, friendly, and like to be positive in life. Criminal Minds has changed me. This show was designed to be watched at a rate of one episode every week, not 1-2 episodes every day. I’ve seen too many people ambushed, tortured, and brutally killed to have a positive outlook on life anymore. I’ve sat through so many scenes of murderers ambushing happy families at home that it’s literally affecting how I view the world.
I keep thinking, “If we got attacked now, could I survive? How much is my dog really protecting me? Who would hear me if I screamed?”
I’ve never had a show affect me quite on this level before. It literally makes me depressed about how evil the world is. A few days ago, I was searching for home invasion defense techniques on Google. Be prepared for how dark this show is. Like a disease, its pessimism will infect you.
The Writers Love to Scar, but Not Kill
This show has something of a unique approach to crime. It doesn’t really care so much about the murder and law-breaking. That’s all just secondary. What the writers really care about is emotional trauma. They would rather inflict life-altering scars on a character rather than kill him off. Sure, there are tons of murders and dead bodies, but those are just a means to an end — and that end is to make everybody as miserable and depressed about humanity as possible.
Image: Criminal Minds Fantastic
Every single character you run across, even the main characters, is bound to experience some incredibly dark and twisted event that will change their psychology forever. I don’t mean “boohoo my TV friend got shot”, I mean:
“Oh no, I got shot and a serial killer used my blood as fingerpaint.”
“Uh-oh, this insane person is shoting me up with heroin, then torturing me in a shed out in the woods.”
“Oh shucks, I was repeatedly raped as a child and guiltily convinced myself that I was doing the right thing by letting it happen.”
Did I mention that this show is dark? Here, this is a family of murderers teaching their kid to be a psycho just like them!
Learn to Think Like a Serial Killer
Not since Dexter’s haunting monologues have we ever come across a show that delves so deeply into the minds of a murderer. You know how most crime shows devote 10 minutes to analyze shell casings and tire marks? They could really care less about that in Criminal Minds. The agents of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU, a basic copy of the real-life BSU), spend every second of the show thinking the way a serial killer thinks. It’s really quite disturbing trying to figure out why somebody removes rib bones, or abuses corpses, or strangles children. We know that type of stuff is sick, but very rarely do we get a glimpse of why these nut jobs do what they do.