Sons of Anarchy

April 1st, 2011

In short it’s a TV series about a biker gang starring the ever-dependable Ron Perlman among others, the first season of which I just finished watching after it was recommended to me by a few folks.  It certainly had its moments, and its interesting characters and scenarios, and at times tantalisingly dangled the possibility of something very interesting, but it never really reached a critical mass of quality for me, and every good episode seemed to be followed by a ropey one, every inventive scene counterbalanced by something that would have me scratching my head.  Despite lashings of grittiness and fumblings towards moral ambiguity the whole thing often seemed fearsomely unrealistic both at the micro level of the behaviour of certain characters (especially most of the women and the central character Jacks, who seemed much more vehicle for plot than personality in his own right) and the more macro level of a massive biker gang infesting a small town and causing intermittent total mayhem throughout the surrounding states without much really happening as a result.  It all put me somewhat in mind of the TV era of the A-Team.  It’s assumed you’re watching a kind of parallel universe in which this sort of thing might happen.  Despite a strong end of season I’m not sure I’ll be coming back for seconds on this one…

Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on April 1st, 2011.

26 comments so far

  • A-drian says:

    I really liked Sons at first and then I cooled on it as the story arcs became shorter and more convoluted.

    Now, also on FX, is an Elmore Lenord short story inspired drama “Justified”. It’s pretty good so far. A gun toting straight talking U.S. Marshal. Bang bang.

  • Neil P says:

    I thought season 2 was a far stronger season to be honest but i really enjoyed season 1, so it’s maybe not your cup of tea.
    You do need to suspend disbelief though for instance how comes what appears to be a really small town has a giant hospital in it? That and Jax’s ridiculous superswing walking style.
    Season 3 is an utter mess though.

  • JonathanL says:

    My wife is a big fan of Sons but I started with Season 3 and then saw Season 1. I really don’t get it; it’s not quite as good as people say. When I think of powerful TV drama, I think of Deadwood and BSG. Sons is missing that killer instinct that takes a show to the next level.

  • David says:

    I only managed a few episodes of Season One before calling it a day. I was disappointed as a couple of friends had really raved about it. Maybe 10 years ago I would have enjoyed it but the bar has been set so high by HBO that anything less than a new ‘Sopranos’, ‘Wire’ ‘BSG’ or ‘Madmen’ and I can’t get excited. I’m loving ‘Boardwalk Empire’, which did take a few episodes to deepen and ‘Treme’ at the moment. And like the rest of geekdom (and hopefully enough ‘normals’ to make series 2 a certainty) I’m counting the days to ‘Game of Thrones’.

  • Everything Neil P said is true.

    Does this mean everything Neil P ever says is *also* true? Too early to say, but my hunch is “maybe”.

  • murf99 says:

    I agree with Neil P too. Second season was much better than the first. The 3rd season, although not as good as 1 and 2, does end with a bang and a great set up story for season 4.

  • Elfy says:

    I personally thought that Season 2 kicked ass. I expected S1 to be better than it was, but S2 had me hooked on this. I’m partway through S3 and not enjoying it as much as S2, although it’s still one of the better shows around. S2 I largely viewed as a big of a power struggle fantasy novel, with the leads riding around on Harley’s instead of horses.

  • henderson says:


    Never saw Sons of Anarchy, but I think Ron Perlman did a fantastic job portraying the Beast in the television show BEUATY & THE BEAST.

    In the next novel, how about featuring the Shanka and the charasmatic leader that they follow through thick and thin?

  • bochgoch says:

    I think the point about suspension of belief is important – the SOA equation just doesn’t work in reality:
    SOA =
    large biker gang +
    plentiful rivals /
    small town +
    sex +
    drugs +
    violence –
    sheriff supporting and nurturing a gang nutters

    I started with Series 2 then went back to Series 1 – if I’d started on 1, I’m not so sure I’d have stuck with it…

  • Shawn says:

    SoA takes a while to build in my opinion. I enjoyed the first season, but wasn’t really all that impressed until the final episode when I was caught off guard with a couple of WTF? moments.

    It was kind of like The Wire in that regard for me. The Wire took a while to build, and I was a bit bored with long stretches of the first season, but man am I glad I stuck with it.

    SoA really hits its stride in season 2. The infighting in the club, the Aryan Brotherhood trying to move in with great acting from Henry Rollins and Adam Arkin. And talk about ending the season with a bang!

    Then season 3 takes you on another wild ride with a complete change of scenery, so to speak and ends up with a “all business will be concluded” moment sort of reminiscent of The Godfather.

    I’m not going to claim it’s best TV show ever, but it’s my favorite FX show behind The Shield and Justified.

  • Demtor says:

    Season 2 was the best. Conry gang brawls and all. Some actors should just never be asked to fist fight. I call it the “Sam Elliot Roadhouse rule.”

  • Erik says:

    SOA season 1 for me was quite enjoyable. Season 2 was incredible. Unfortunately, season 3 was as the girls in the usa say, ‘a hot mess.’ it was somewhat redeemed with a cool finale that took care of so many awful story-lines and characters to get ready for a hopefully fresh start with season 4.

    I’d like to +1 to henderson’s comment, Joe, can we get some more shanka in the future? is that what your wild west research is leading up to? in lieu of the native americans in the wild west it’ll be the native shankas?

  • the Picaroony says:

    Its a ham-fisted crystal meth pantomime.Wait til ye see them in Ireland bare knuckle fighting and dancing jigs with the IRA outside the Provisionar. Gas stuff!

  • Bryce says:

    Hey Eric, not really sure how cool the season three finale was. The thing with the FBI agent( no spoilers ) wasn’t really convincing or the baby thing either. The whole ‘we hate each other ‘ progressively more with ever episode with the step dad and son, then not, again didn’t wash.

    Prefer my ‘native americans’ to be more The outlaw Jessie Wales’ type with wit, pathos and above all dignity. Obviously they can all kick arse when they want.

  • Tim H says:

    My wife and I just watched all three seasons of the British series Doc Martin. Really quirky and wonderful. My wife now calls me Doc for some reason.

    Can anyone recommend any other good non-Jane Austen British series? I watched a few episodes of the new Doctor Who but didn’t get into it.

  • Colizobble says:

    For something fun that is very definitely not Jane Austen, I’d recommend Misfits.

  • chloe says:

    Loved all seasons of S.O.A, Season 2 is without doubt the best. Im completely addicted and waiting for Season 4 with excitement Ron Perlman is cast brillantly. You want British Series that are good, how old are you and what type of stuff do you like. Misfits is indeed awesome, about a group of people who get superpowers after a random storm brillantly written very funny great cast. If not maybe id suggest Black Books featuring Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey two fantastic comedians and a hilarious show set in a book shop in russel square london.

  • Redbhoy says:

    Yes Season 3 set in Ireland was pretty ropy indeed and being Irish the accents were pathetic,next time maybe hire a few Irish actors,but overall a terrific series

  • Dave Ellis says:

    I really enjoy SoA, while I agree with a lot of what has been said, suspension of disbelief, and season 3 being the weakest, I really like the mythos behind it, like a fantasy such as Game of Thrones where your more interested in what happened 10 or 15 years before than what’s happening on the page sometimes.

    And also the shakespearean aspect, because it’s quite clearly Hamlet, and I’m interested in seeing how far along that plot it goes.

  • Erik says:

    convincing or no, I liked that the story lines got wrapped up in SOA’s season 3 finale. the whole season had gone off the rails and I was pleased to see so many of the different arcs concluded.

    maybe Joe’s western research will lead to something far different than the shanka on the plains I recall from ‘before they are hanged.’ I’d just like to see more of them in future works so I was putting my two cents in for them. maybe it’ll be ferro or logan playing the part of wild west sheriff.

  • Longbowman says:

    Joe, I recommend not wasting effort on Season 2 and three, unless you really have nothing else better to do. (Hmm… like maybe writing more uber-cool books) Now if they could put that much money into a show about motorcycle gangs that really doesn’t deserve three seasons, how about using that same money for making an epic movie about a gritty fantasy world, where life is tough, the characters tougher and returning to the mud is just an everyday occurance.

  • Jim Patching says:

    I’m watching Sons of Anarchy Season 1 now and I’m enjoying it. It’s not the best show ever but it’s got me hooked. I was suprised to find out that the guy who plays Jackson is British – used to be in Biker Grove apparently.

  • enjai says:

    Grumpy Buddha: 50% of what I say is absolute truth 🙂

    I agree that at least season 3 ended in such a way that they could start with a clean slate next season; something I had thought impossible at stages in season 3.

  • Tim H says:

    Thanks, I’ll check them out.

  • Lars says:


    I actually thought that you’d enjoy SoA, but obviously I don’t know you that well! I really enjoyed all three seasons, even the last one which most people here seem to consider a mess. I loved them because of the twists, gritty violence, cool characters and the strong themes. Sure you need suspense of disbelief with the unrealistic portrayals of biker gangs and the police department etc. But I easily did this because I didn’t see SoA as a realistic portrayal of anything, I saw it as an artistic response to Hamlet, of what could have been the Danish Prince’s life if he was a biker. This viewpoint made the series so much stronger for me. If you want realism, don’t watch this show, but if you want strong traumatizing emotion then I suggest that you move on to season 2, which in my opinion is much better than season 1. As for season 3, I thought it was the best of the three, but that one seems to be all about personal opinion if I read these other posts correctly.

  • Denise Shelton says:

    Wow, I hope none of the rabid Sons fans latch on to these comments. They will flip OUT. How anybody could watch the Agent Stahl storyline and not love it, especially the last episode of Season 3, is beyond me. The Irish stuff was tough. I was partially raised by my sainted Irish grandmother and usually have a great ear for accents but I had a really hard time understanding what was being said. At the start of this season, a lot of the gang has been in jail for about a year and the police department was disbanded with law enforcement delegated to the sheriff’s department, so there have been some consequences. You should give Season 2 a try. Suspension of disbelief is definitely a must. Kurt Sutter, the show runner, is a very passionate guy and kind of an outlaw as Hollywood types go. His blog at is a lot of fun.

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