It didn’t seem like the kind of TV show that would even remotely interest me. Sons of Anarchy, created by Kurt Sutter and currently running on the Netflix streaming network, is a crime drama about a motorcycle club in California. What could possibly attract me to Hells Angels types and their misadventures?
Throwing caution to the wind, I tuned in to the first episode and was hooked. Never looking back, I immersed myself in it, watching all seven seasons over a period of more than a month.
I was drawn to it because it exposed me to an alien world with its own peculiar values, conventions, customs and taboos. Midway through, it ripened into a Greek tragedy, consuming nearly everyone in its path.
The motorcycle club, known as Samcrow, is housed in an automotive repair garage in the fictional Central Valley town of Charming. Its aging leader, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), is charismatic, analytical and combative.
His wife, Gemma (Katey Sagal) is tough as nails and harbors a secret to which only Clay is privy. Gemma’s son, Jackson (Jax) Teller (Charlie Hunnam), one of the show’s central figures, is Hollywood handsome and a brooder. After reading his late father’s diary, he grows disillusioned and tries to break away from the club and lead a normal life.
Meanwhile, Jax’s marriage to his first wife, Wendy (Drea de Matteo), is imploding. She’s a drug addict who has given birth to a son Jax adores and whose name is tattooed on his chest. As time goes by, Wendy tries to reform herself.
Clay’s crew consists of, among others, Bobby (Mark Boone Jr.), who’s bearded, pudgy and dishevelled; Chibbs (Tommy Flanagan), who speaks with a strong Scottish accent; Tig (Kim Coates), who’s Clay’s right-hand man; Opie (Ryan Hurst), who’s Jax’s best friend and a solemn person of few words, and Juice (Theo Rossi), who’s tormented by his racial background. They’re all bound together by an unflagging spirit of camaraderie.
Due to Clay’s connection to the Irish Republican Army, the bikers are into gun-running. When necessary, they deal in illicit drugs. Their fierce competitors are Hispanic, African-American, Chinese and neo-Nazi gangs who detest each other and are quick to resort to violence to settle disputes. In an odd twist, the Chinese gangsters buy some of their guns from Hamas, the ruling authority in the Gaza Strip.
Charming’s gruff but good-natured sheriff, Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) is Gemma’s childhood friend. He maintains a semblance of law and order, but he’s corrupt and beholden to the club.
As the plot gathers momentum, a viewer is introduced to a cast of new characters — Ethan Zobelle (Adam Arkin), a soft-spoken white supremacist who seeks to expel the club from town and swoop up their business; Marcus (Emilio Rivera), the volatile head of a rival motorcycle club; Tara (Maggie Siff), a physician who develops a serious relationship with Jax and eventually marries him against her better judgment; Hale (Jeff Kober), a canny real estate developer who juggles conflicting priorities; Pope (Harold Perrineau), a clever African American hoodlum whose interests collide with the club’s; Stahl (Ally Walker), an unscrupulous federal police agent who hounds the club, and Nero (Jimmy Smits), the operator of a massage parlor/bordello who becomes Gemma’s boyfriend and Jax’s business partner.
Sons of Anarchy, drenched in mayhem, blood and gore and infused with sexuality, is about brotherhood, love, loyalty, disappointment, betrayal and the scourge of racism. The main characters are expertly developed, and the actors who portray them, particularly Hunnam, Perlman, Sagal and Siff, are utterly apt and convincing.
In short, this is a compelling and immersive series with a plausible script, fine production values and an impressive cast.