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Why You Need to Stop What You're Doing and Watch Sons of Anarchy

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The fall TV season is almost here. One of the shows I'm looking forward to the most is Sons of Anarchy. I never would have suspected, even last spring, that this would be the case. After reading summaries of the show I didn't think that it was the kind of thing I would like. I was wrong. Over the summer I decided to watch a few episodes and ended up bing watching the first five seasons.

Most of the television I watch tends to be sci-fi. I have a hard time watching shows set in the here and now because they tend to be completely unrealistic. Television, especially American television, tends to fall into a pattern: there are good guys who are very, very good and bad guys who are very, very bad. Everyone is upper middle class or better, especially the good guys. Whatever the situation the good guys win and everyone lives happily ever after. Life, in my experience, isn't like that. So, at least with science fiction I can say to myself "well, I've never been to that planet and I've never visited the distant future, so maybe.

There have been exceptions to that pattern, especially recently. American television, primarily cable television, has given us shows like The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men, The Sopranos and others. In these shows good and bad tend to give way to shades of grey. The good guys aren't all good and the bad guys aren't all bad. Sometimes the good guys are less likable than the bad guys. The good guys don't always win and there isn't much "happily ever after", instead battles are won or lost and people move on to the next battle. Even when a battle is won there is frequently a cost to winning. While this may not be completely realistic, it is closer to the mark than the traditional fairy tale theatre of American television.

Sons of Anarchy is a show about a Northern California motorcycle gang. The gang is involved in, among other things, illegal gun running, drugs, and pornography. More than that it is a show about family. Specifically it is about a young man, Jax Teller (played brilliantly by Charlie Hunnam) and his deceased father. One of the founders of the motorcycle club, a generation before, Jax's father had wanted to steer them away from guns and drugs, but died before he could see his plans through. Jax is now trying to restore his fathers vision while protecting the people he loves.

With a story that borrows elements from Hamlet and The Godfather, it is a story of ghosts, of love and loss, sacrifice and redemption and it is not something that you should be missing. Presumably due to the subject matter, Sons of Anarchy has managed to fly below the radar for 5 years. While the quality is on par with The Wire, The Sopranos and Mad Men is has been largely ignored by critics and completely ignored by the Emmy Awards. Despite five seasons of consistently high quality writing, acting and directing it has received only a single nomination, in 2009, for music.

If you've been watching all along, the new season starts Sept. 9. If you haven't then use the last days of summer to catch up. It will all be worth it. You should also follow series creator Kurt Sutter on Twitter (@sutterink) and YouTube (sutterinksoa) where he regularly answers questions, connects with fans and gives you the inside scoop on the show.

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