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Sons of Anarchy: Bingeworthy

Keeley Brooks

Sep 25, 2023

Sons of Anarchy is one hell of a binge-worthy ride depicting an outlaw motorcycle club as an analogy for human transformation.

Welcome to Bingeworthy, the place where we’ll tell you all about some of our favorite shows out there that are totally worth your undivided attention and that cozy imprint of your backside on your couch. Sometimes our binge-worthy recommendations will be new series, sometimes they’ll be older series, but one thing’s for sure: They’ll always be bitchin’ series worth every second of your precious little time. First up on our binge-worthy list is one of the best gritty action crime dramas to ever grace our TV screens (and one of my personal favorites), the adrenalized outlaw motorcycle club drama Sons of Anarchy.


I’ll admit, the biker world has always captivated me, ever since 2000 when I first heard, then saw, then rode a Harley; after that, I was hooked and forever changed. That was well before Sons of Anarchy, back when the hit reality TV series American Chopper was infiltrating the airwaves. And while American Chopper was responsible for generating biker-enthusiast interest amongst the general public, it was really Sons of Anarchy that satiated our desire for that juicy insider perspective, even if it was fictional.


Sons of Anarchy roared into our lives on their Hogs with their leathers in 2008, forever changing the FX Network and catching the undivided attention of millions of viewers. The series is created, written, produced, and directed by Kurt Sutter, who also stars in as tortured incarcerated club member Otto Delaney. Sutter is also responsible for the creation of Sons of Anarchy spinoff Mayans M.C., and—fun fact—in real life, he is married to actress Katey Sagal (Married with Children), who in Sons of Anarchy plays club matriarch Gemma Teller Morrow.

Katey Sagal and Kurt Sutter

The widow of former club president and original founding member John Teller, Gemma is now married to the current Sons of Anarchy president, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman, of Hellboy). As Clay's old lady, she's smart, mouthy, tough, and loyal, but she’s also a bully—the kind who doesn’t think twice about using a skateboard to bitch-smack a chick across the face. Gemma is the kind of woman who can give and take a beating like a champ and she's fiercely protective of her family; she's also intensely maternal to the members of SAMCRO as well as the citizens of Charming. As Queen Mother of the club, she’s a master manipulator, constantly having to scheme to keep her secrets hidden and ensure her power continues to grow. While she is loyal to her family and the Sons of Anarchy, she’s most loyal to herself. But then I suppose as a woman wrapped high up in an outlaw motorcycle club, she kind of has to be, right?

Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman as Gemma and Clay Morrow

Sons of Anarchy is a no-bullshit motorcycle drama with darkly comedic undertones about a club built on hopes, dreams, loyalty, and brotherhood that becomes tainted with lies, secrets, and betrayals when guns, drugs, and violence infiltrate the core of the Sons’ foundation. The series uses its narratives to explore the brutal realities of vigilantism, government corruption, and racism through a plot that depicts an outlaw motorcycle club as a visceral analogy for human transformation, and that is where the show hooks and draws you in.


Sons of Anarchy follows the heart-wrenching story of Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam, of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword), club vice president and Gemma’s son with the late John Teller, as he struggles to find balance between fatherhood and honoring his personal relationships while remaining loyal to his club, which is slowly unraveling from the inside out.

Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller

In Season 1, Jax finds and begins reading his father’s memoirs, which focus on John’s vision for the club and its future, which never included running guns and drugs. Jax comes across a specific passage that reads, “A true outlaw finds the balance between the passion in his heart and the reason in his mind. The outcome is the balance of might and right.” This defines Jax’s dilemma throughout the entire series.


Jax grew up around the M.C. and at his core is just a boy who lost his father to madness after the death of his first son (and Jax’s brother), Thomas. As good writing tends to do, Sons of Anarchy revisits this theme in Jax’s adulthood when he faces a harrowing situation with his first-born son, Abel. There's some heavy drama around the birth of Jax’s son, around his on-again/off-again relationship with his high school sweetheart (and future wife and baby mama) Tara (Maggie Siff, of Billions), and around the crumbling sanity of everyone involved as they sink deeper and deeper into the very things that the original founding members prided themselves on avoiding.


Also known as SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original) and Sam Crow (the personification of the acronym, the Sons of Anarchy are an extremely loyal, tight-knit club operating both legal and illegal businesses in the quaint, fictional town of Charming, located in the Central California valley. Here, the Sons work together in their own ways with local law enforcement and other area clubs and local VIPs to keep Charming safe and to ensure the Sons’ control of that safety.

L to R: Tig, Opie, Chibs, Juice, Bobby, Tara, Jax, Clay, and Gemma

Legally, SAMCRO owns and operates Teller-Morrow Automotive Repair Shop and has a stake in the local porn and escort industries. Illegally, they run guns for the Irish—yep, the Irish are involved … both the IRA and the Belfast charter of the Sons of Anarchy. The drama unfolding here (and believe me, there’s a ton) establishes the first three seasons, indicating that some major action goes down revolving around (and exposing) some secret history between SAMCRO and the Irish. This ultimately becomes the catalyst for everything that plays out through the remaining four seasons.


Sons of Anarchy doesn’t just introduce us to SAMCRO, though; it also gives us a taste of other clubs and crime syndicates in the area: the Mayans M.C., Latinos controlling North Cali, Nevada, and Vegas with a charter in Oakland; the Pirelli Crime Family, an Italian-American Mafia family; the Nordics, a white supremacist drug-dealing gang with ties to the Aryan Brotherhood, a prison gang and crime syndicate; the Grim Bastards, a mostly Black club based in Lodi who are allies with the Sons of Anarchy; and the One-Niners (“the Niners”), an all-Black, drug-dealing, gun-buying street gang in Oakland.


Oh, the Russian mafia is also involved, as are the A.T.F., the D.E.A., and the Asst. District Attorney for the U.S. Government, who is soft-spoken, pun-appreciating, and unnerving all at once. They’re all sniffing around like packs of wild dogs salivating over a piece of bloody meat. So, there’s that conflict to contend with as well.


Speaking of conflict, Sons of Anarchy features some pretty volatile beefs inter-politically, racially, within SAMCRO, between SAMCRO and other clubs, between SAMCRO and law enforcement, between SAMCRO and some of its own charters, amongst and between law enforcement, and between individual characters. Then there are the bits of drama silently brewing that viewers don’t even know about until Sutter throws it in your face and leaves you wondering what the hell just happened. Expect a lot of smack talk, fist fights, shoot-outs in the street, high-speed motorcycle chases, and gruesome acts of violence, retribution, and war in addition to chick fights, biker parties, weddings, funerals, betrayals, and insider shenanigans.


All of this is awesome, yes, but it isn’t the reason Sons of Anarchy is such a heart-stealer: Its intricate narrative woven together by emotionally deep characters operating under the tenet of undying brotherhood and loyalty is ... its exposure of human transformation. The only question is who that undying loyalty is to: themselves, their town, or their club. And I can assure you that just when you think you know the answer, Sutter proves you wrong and again leaves you sitting in disbelief.


On the surface, Sons of Anarchy is just a show about a biker club. Beneath that, it’s the raw story of a blended family (Jax’s family with Tara, which consists of his child with another woman and his child with Tara) within the story of a blended family (the Teller-Morrows) within the story of a blended family (SAMCRO). Sons of Anarchy is rife with fascinating subplots that twist and turn with precision to present a very specific message played out by interesting characters whose dilemmas do a number on your heart strings.


You see, everyone in Charming has a backstory (and an army of secrets), and they’re all working together and behind each other’s backs to secure one thing: safety … safety of the club, of themselves, and of Charming, which is quite ironic when you think about it: A town called Charming, full of people who’d put their life on the line to keep it safe, is anything but.


As each season rolls on, and there are seven of them, you’ll find yourself falling deeper in love not just with the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club but also with its individual members, like Juice (Theo Rossi, of Army of the Dead), Chibs (Tommy Flanagan, of Power Book IV: Force), Tig (Kim Coates, of Bad Blood), Sheriff Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie, of Fear the Walking Dead), and Opie (Ryan Hurst, of The Walking Dead), to name a few. You’ll love them, laugh with them and at them, cry with them and for them, hurt with them and for them, support them in their quests for retribution, and share their foundation of family and brotherhood … loyalty with no questions asked. Even though these guys are outlaws, they have their own private sense of morality and their own very real, very human, loving, meaningful relationships.


Sons of Anarchy crescendos with tender, genuine, heartfelt moments laced with chaos and fear, and it shows us what anyone is capable of when threatened with exposure, destruction, and/or death. In the case of SAMCRO, they all have good hearts; they just can’t deny their outlaw nature, and that’s where who they truly are gets misconstrued.


There’s a great scene where Gemma tells someone who is admitting they pre-judged the club that, “Most people just have an impression of who bikers are corrupted by opinions of others without ever having any sort of true idea who they ever really are.” This statement applies to more than just bikers, especially today, and one thing Sons of Anarchy indelibly teaches us is that books cannot and must not be judged by their covers.


And for all the effort to do good that happens in the beginning of Sons of Anarchy, by Season 4, the narrative grows much darker and much more evil, with the bonds of love, family, and brotherhood morphing into fear and greed as old secrets come to light, shady new alliances form that align the club with the Mexican drug cartel--something the original founding members never wanted to happen--and the arrival of a whole new level of law enforcement ready and willing to throw their manhood around loud and proud whenever they feel it’s necessary. The Mexican drug cartel, the Galindos, are also featured in Sons of Anarchy spinoff Mayans M.C.


Seasons 5, 6, and 7 are full of adrenaline and shockingly tense moments, as this narrative takes some wild, unexpected twists and turns that will have you all over the emotional scale. The reason Sons of Anarchy works so well is because it's not a show about souping up Harleys or anything like that. Sutter was very careful to be true to those who live the life in the way that any smart creator would: by ensuring he treated the respective subject matter with appropriate respect, and he did.

Something most viewers didn’t know at the time Sons of Anarchy aired is that the show features some real-life Hell’s Angels bikers. David Labrava, who plays Happy Lowman—the club’s assassin—is a recurring character and he also served as the show’s technical advisor. Rusty Coones and Chuck Zito were also Hell’s Angels members who appeared as part of the Nomads charter and came onto the show in later seasons to, quite frankly, stir shit up. And, the infamous Hell’s Angels most feared leader, Sonny Barger, also makes several appearances. Barger was the founding member of the Oakland chapter of the Hell’s Angels and was instrumental in unifying varying disparate Hell’s Angels chapters. He had the club incorporated in 1966.

L to R: Chuck Zito, David. Labrava, Sonny Barger, Rusty Coones

Additionally, Sons of Anarchy features a host of other guest appearances, such as Joel McHale (Community), Jimmy Smits (Dexter), Donal Logue (Gotham), Dave Navarro (of Jane’s Addiction and Ink Master), Peter Weller (Longmire), Danny Trejo (Machete), Walton Goggins (Justified), CCH Pounder (NCIS: New Orleans), Robert Patrick (Terminator series), Drea De Matteo (The Sopranos), Kim Dickens (Fear the Walking Dead), and horror author Stephen King. They all show up as interesting characters, each with their own secrets and quirks, further driving our curiosity (and obsession) with this binge-worthy series that can best be described as a mix of The Sopranos and Hamlet with motorcycles.

Is More of the SoA Universe on the Way?

Sutter set off chatter on Twitter during COVID lockdown that he had plans for a sequel to Sons of Anarchy entitled Sam Crow, a show that would center on Jax's son, Abel.

"I had this revelation between [Sons of Anarchy] and Mayans that the SoA mythology would be four shows: Sons of Anarchy, Mayans M.C., First Nine, and Sam Crow. First Nine would be a limited series. Nine episodes. It would end before we began to tread on the history we created in Sons [i.e. a prequel]. Sam Crow would be the fate of Wendi (Drea De Matteo), Nero (Jimmy Smits), Abel, and Thomas."

Both Charlie Hunnam and Theo Rossi seemed to confirm rumors of a possible new Sons of Anarchy project. Speaking at Liverpool Comic Con in May 2022, Hunnam told the audience, "There's something in that universe that doesn't involve Jax Teller but does involve me that we're sort of cooking up," hinting he could "possibly" appear in a follow-up series. "I have an idea that I''m exploring in its infancy where that could be a possibility."

In March 2023 while speaking with Deadline, Theo Rossi teased an "insane" new Sons of Anarchy project: "There might be something coming up where we're all back together, which is insane. If it happens, it's wild." When asked if this might be an idea for a Sons of Anarchy movie, Rossi smiled cryptically and said, "It's totally different. It's really cool."

While nothing has officially been confirmed, I'd say it's safe to remain hopeful that we'll see some sort of Sons of Anarchy return in one way or another. Now, if you've seen the series, you might be wondering how that'd be possible given the fates of some of the characters. In my best The Big Lebowski's Walter Sobchak voice, "There are ways, dude. Believe me, there are ways."

Sons of Anarchy is currently streaming on Hulu, or you can rent or purchase on Google Play, Prime Video, Roku, and Vudu.


Keeley Brooks is a big ole movies, television, and streaming nerd with an uncontrollable urge to write about everything she watches, even if it sucks.

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