Embracing Anarchy

Dear Kurt Sutter,

For whatever reason, I take my time committing myself to a television series, no matter how much praise it might receive.  While my smarter friends dive head first into critically-acclaimed shows and then go on to tell me how amazing the shows are and how I really should be watching them, my deaf ears just don’t absorb their recommendations.  And then, finally, I clear the wax out to find myself desperately curious to know what all the buzz is about.  And I’m usually four seasons behind.  FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, GAME OF THRONES…all of these became Netflix/HBO marathons that I gorged upon in order to catch up.  But, oh, am I ever glad I did.

And so it goes with your show SONS OF ANARCHY.  I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and it’s sat on my Netflix for many months.  So I finally gave it a go this week.  I haven’t even finished the first season, but I’m already in awe of what you’ve created.  And I’d like to offer my gratitude about this compelling series.

  • Thanks for tackling familiar themes in an unfamiliar world.  I certainly didn’t know much about motorcycle clubs (they’re “outlaws” by nature, after all), but what a fascinating backdrop this world is for your stories of family, loyalty, love, and violence.  I imagine if the Corleone family rode cycles, they’d be SAMCRO.
  • Thanks for not underestimating the intelligence of your audience.  You actually challenge us to pay attention and catch up to your plotting machinations.  Your show services a lot of characters – and I mean A LOT – but you do so with assurance and care.  Every character is distinct and memorable, even if they only get a few minutes of screen time in an episode.  Funnily enough, your ability to juggle all of these people reminds me of another fantastic show for which I arrived late to the party: DOWNTON ABBEY.  Granted, the two worlds of these series could not be on more opposite sides of the spectrum (although Maggie Smith’s verbal barbs are as pointed and powerful as Ron Perlman’s punches), however both offer an assortment of storylines that are executed with absolute precision.
  • Thanks for throwing us a bone in the form of humor.  Amidst the gun-running and brutality, there’s always an undercurrent of dark comedy that allows the audience to laugh for a second and take a breath before the next round of savagery starts up.
  • Thanks for doing such an awesome job of casting!  And for casting people who actually look like they inhabit this world of black leather, Marlboros, whiskey, and barroom brawls.  You opted for talented actors (including your hot mama wife, Katey Sagal) who have presence and charisma, which makes them far more attractive than most of the J.Crew cutouts populating network television. (Although, on a related note, I do appreciate the casting of Charlie Hunnam as Jackson.  It’s nice to have an angel-among-mortals on screen – and he can act!)
  • Thanks for providing a template for exceptional and effective writing.  Your complicated plots are structurally sound and your dialogue is smart while remaining true to the world.  As I watched the first episodes of SONS OF ANARCHY, I was reminded of THE WIRE and its ability to weave thoughtful metaphors and provocative prose within the dialogue of inner-city characters.  Rather than falling back on simple “realism”, you, too, bring poetry to these hardened bikers.

I don’t know what the rest of the season or series has in store for me, but I’m happy to be along for the ride. (And I have a feeling I should wear my helmet, too.)

Yours in Anarchy,

DLB

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