There is not a moment of truth in the FX television networks new costume melodrama, Sons of Anarchy. Not a moment. Not a second. Not a breath.
The show was proceeded by such an avalanche of hyperbole that even cynics hoped it might be better. A cogent show about bikers is theoretically possible. HBO’s series The Wire came close to telling the truth about the black ghetto for five years. Why not a show about scooter trash?
The Wire even featured a biker played by the singer Steve Earle. But The Wire, because of the moral and artistic ideals of its producers was trying to tell the truth. Sons of Anarchy doesn’t need no stinking truth. Sons of Anarchy only needs its piece of the mega-billion dollar, Harley-Davidson aftermarket.
Guess Who The SOA Is Supposed To Be
The show is about a club with a black on white patch that claims California. The club, despite the colors, is supposed to be the Hells Angels. Their arch adversaries are a club called the Mayans. The Mayans, presumably are the Mongols.
Every child knows that there actually is a club called the Hells Angels which has had a very long running, bitter, and sometimes bloody dispute over market share and survival with a club called the Mongols. And, knowing that seems to define the limits of the producers knowledge of or interest in the outlaw motorcycle world.
Producer Raised In Shadow
The producer is gentleman named Kurt Sutter. His Internet Movie Data Base biography states that he was “raised in the shadow of Rahway Prison” in New Jersey. His wife is the always appealing Katey Sagal, who is one of the stars of the show. The show also stars Shooter Jennings bodacious old lady, Drea de Matteo and Hellboy Ron Perlman. The lead actor in this series is the English actor Charlie Hunnam who is best known in Hollywood for his role in another cable television show called Queer as Folk.
Sutter candidly acknowledges that the show is supposed to be a fictionalized account of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. “They went from being this fun-loving fraternity to pretty much an organized-crime syndicate,” Sutter told a Pittsburgh paper. “I thought, ‘What if that first guy who put the jacket on his back and said, “Hey, let’s go out, have a few beers and start some trouble,” how would that guy feel about what the club eventually became?'”
Club Runs Town Sort Of
The club in the show, the SOA MC, sells guns. In future episodes, possibly, they may also sell drugs and women. They control their own town, a place called Charming, California, and that is probably the only promising idea in the series.
Long ago in the outlaw world, a fraternal organization of three hundred members called the Cowboys actually did control a prosperous and well known town in Arizona. The Cowboys claimed all of Southeastern Arizona and Southern New Mexico as their exclusive territory.
But this was in the 1880s, 20 years before motorcycles. And, the Cowboys did not wear patches. They wore sashes, as a sort of homage to the legendary gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok. And, of course, the town was Tombstone. And, the leader of the Cowboys, Curley Bill Brocius, was Tombstone’s official tax collector until the Earp brothers showed up.
Nothing nearly that interesting happens in Sons of Anarchy.
The SOA don’t ride motorcycles so much as get on and off them. They prance around like pimps. Their cuts are their mink jackets. They rush to hospitals. They glower. They rarely laugh. They search their souls and ask themselves, “Why oh, why? How did our happy, hippie commune become a motorcycle club?” None of these outlaws has ever been shaken or stirred. None of them has calluses or scars.
In the one distracting moment, halfway through a deadly hour, Charlie Hunnam busts a pool cue over a guy’s head and stabs him in the balls with the jagged end. That was almost amusing.
But, mostly the SOA are shadows of cutouts of sketches of bikers. The show stinks and shines like dying grunion in the moonlight. And, it is made for the people Paddy Chayefsky called “humanoids,” people who know the world only from watching it on TV.
It probably isn’t for you.