The popular drama about a ruthless biker gang in California might not be the most critically acclaimed of the dramas to come out of television’s golden age, but viewers love how the rough exterior of the gang belies a close-knit group and watching the moral quandaries faced by the leader and protagonist Jax. With the seventh and final season of the show currently airing on FX, here are some other series that the fans of Sons of Anarchy might enjoy once SAMCRO hang up their leather jackets.
The Last Chapter
The Last Chapter is a Canadian miniseries from 2002 about powerful Canadian biker gang The Triple Sixers, which is one of the largest biker gangs in the world. The show follows the gang as they try to break into Canada’s most populous and richest province of Ontario after dominating from Halifax to Vancouver. The series was shot with a bilingual cast and every scene was done in both English and French to make a French version for Canada’s francophone population. The show has been described as a biker version of The Sopranos. It was nominated for six Gemini awards, which are the Canadian equivalent of the Emmys.
The Shield is another FX drama, this one is about how the “right” side of the law can sometimes be just as corrupt as people on the “wrong” side, like those on Sons of Anarchy. The show stars Michael Chiklis and is loosely based on true events surrounding a deeply corrupt, experimental police force meant to clean the streets of gang violence but was found guilty of unprovoked shootings and beatings, planting false evidence, framing suspects, stealing and dealing drugs, bank robbery, and covering up the evidence from all those things. Google the Rampart scandal if you want to know the real story. Watch The Shield if you think you’d be interested in a fictionalization of those events following the officers’ attempts to keep all that bad behavior secret.
Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter is developing a reality show for the Discovery Channel about real life biker gangs and other groups of outlaws that he’s said will “make Sons of Anarchy look like Sesame Street,” according to Entertainment Weekly. The show seeks to look at the most notorious gangs and other criminal organizations in the world from the perspective of the organizations’ members. The Crips gang, the Irish mafia, and of course some of the worst (best?) biker gangs will be profiled. If the real inspirations behind Sons of Anarchy interest you, and you’ve got a strong stomach, Outlaw Empires would be a good show to check out.
“I’ve made a career writing about fictitious anti-heroes,” Sutter said. “To create these worlds, I’ve spent a lot of time with active members on both sides of the law. And if I had to pick the most interesting of the two, the choice is obvious — we all love the guys in black. It’s not so much about justifying bad behavior, but to hear it from the inside out instead of from a distant law enforcement social judgement call.”
HBO’s seminal series The Sopranos is considered one of, if not the, greatest TV shows of all time. Like Sons of Anarchy, the show is about the leader of a long-running illegal organization with its own entrenched culture and the moral struggles the leader faces in that role. James Gandolfini’s performance as New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano is one of the great acting performances of television history. The Sopranos is frequently violent and shows the gruesome sides of humanity and how groups justify violence. With more complicated storytelling and the best writing, The Sopranos is a smarter, deeper take on themes found in Sons of Anarchy, using the East Coast Italian mafia as a lens rather than a West Coast motorcycle gang.
Breaking Bad was heavily influenced by The Sopranos and is considered to be one of the finest achievements of television’s golden era. Again we have a lead character operating outside the law in very murky moral waters. Protagonist Walter White begins making and dealing methamphetamines when he finds out he has cancer and realizes his meager earnings as a high school chemistry teacher aren’t going to cut it to provide for his family when he’s gone. Of course, once he gets in to the drug dealing game, whether his intentions are simply to make enough money for his family to survive when he’s gone becomes more and more unclear. It’s another gritty, violent drama that critics have heaped praise on, particularly for Bryan Cranston’s performance as White.
The upcoming prequel
Last year, Kurt Sutter said that he’d like to develop a Sons of Anarchy prequel set when the biker gang SAMCRO first started. “I’ve had discussions with the network about it, and I think they are open to it,” Sutter said, per People. “I think there is something really interesting about the origins of the club. And to do a period piece set in the ’60s, post-Vietnam could be kind of cool. I don’t think we would dovetail and start right after the series ended, but it’s something I’m potentially excited about it.” Sutter talked about the prequel again at Comic Con this year, according to Entertainment Tonight, but only said that he’s working on the prequel and didn’t give any more details.
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS
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