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’s Maggie 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.