As far as I’m concerned, no show turns societal conventions upside down quite like Sons of Anarchy.
The FX series, currently in its fifth season, revolves around a gun-running, drug-smuggling biker gang called the Sons of Anarchy, or SAMCRO. This group of tattooed, knife-carrying, gun-wielding bikers engage in some truly deplorable acts. They’re passably racist, they sleep with countless women (many of whom are prostitutes or porn stars), they deal arms and they murder without hesitation.
And yet, Kurt Sutter, the creator of the show, has managed to create something truly remarkable. Rather than rooting for the Sons to be locked up, the audience comes to empathize, and eventually cheer for the bikers, often rooting against local law enforcement. Even the town sheriff eventually comes around to assisting the gang in some of their more dangerous dealings.
And the Sons do have their own brand of ethics, punishing those that have crossed them, or betrayed the gang in some way. Snitches, traitors and the like all meet with similarly gruesome fates, but the Sons are such compelling characters that I’ve found myself thinking on more than one occasion, that was deserved.
What does it say about our society, that we would so easily side with a murderous gang of bikers against law enforcement officers, and the local government? In past seasons, I’ve found myself cheering when the Sons manage to avoid arrest, or pull one over on the federal agents sent to break up the gang. What does it say about our views of government, that such seemingly unlikeable characters become the champions of justice- even if that brand of justice is rather…unique. Do we truly think so little of those in positions of power, do we feel that our lawmakers are so inept? Or is it simply the work of masterful storytelling, creating characters so multifaceted that we begin to see the good before the bad?