Have Some Anarchy

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?


2 thoughts on “Have Some Anarchy

  1. You bring up excellent questions, Stephanie. I always think about the same thing with shows dealing with these types of people. For instance, just recently, Walter White in Breaking Bad became completely and utterly unlikeable with deplorable and unethical acts. He essentially lost his character fanbase.

    I think that for the most part this is indicative of, as you say, masterful storytelling. These directors, producers, and writers put so much thought into the development of each character that as we put more and more hours into watching season after season we grow with the characters.

  2. I have never seen this show, but you’ve done a great job of describing the moral question it places on its viewers. It sounds like Sutter is a remarkable screenwriter, since he is so successfully able to convince viewers that the gangs’ unethical behavior is justified (not an easy feat from what it sounds like). I agree with Michael in that it is masterful storytelling. Even though many people may not view the gangs actions as unethical on the show, most people would not tolerate dealing arms and killing without hesitation in the real world.

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