FX has a long history of dramas that break the mold for what we consider typical fare. Shows like Justified and The Americans have put it up there with the likes of AMC and HBO as networks that specializes in storytelling mastery. But behind the curtain of FX’s success lives Kurt Sutter, the creative mind behind The Shield and the recently finished Sons of Anarchy. With just those two shows under his belt, Sutter has quickly launched himself into an elite class of writers and showrunners.
Sutter’s history in Hollywood dates back to his days working as a staff writer during The Shield’s early run. He closed out the series with the second most credits to his name for the show, earning an executive producer role to boot. This in turn led to his creation of the monstrous hit, Sons of Anarchy. Sons may have ended in these last few months, but its overall impact has been more than felt. Sutter had a chance to truly spread his wings, leaving us with a show that’ll be remembered as one of the greats of this current golden age of television.
His rise to power though has been a quiet one, to the extent to which many Sons of Anarchy fans didn’t even realize that he himself was in the show as incarcerated club member Otto Delaney. But that doesn’t change what he’s done for both the antihero crime drama as well as the entire FX network. Traces of Sutter’s work can be found all over TV.
Let’s first observe The Shield, the story of crooked cop Vic Mackey and his gaming of the justice and law enforcement system for his own gain. For seven seasons, we find ourselves rooting against all odds for Mackey and his team to stay one step ahead of being caught for their rampant corruption. It ends (spoilers ahead!) with Sutter and company almost punishing us for rooting for his character, with everyone close to Mackey landing either in a grave or in prison. Vic finds himself chained to a desk, having lost everything. He got exactly what he deserved, as we went from hoping for his success to realizing that his fate was sealed since Season One.
Sons of Anarchy follows a similar arch, this time from the outlaw side of the table. It’s a Godfather-esque story, charting the downfall of the idealistic Jackson Teller. All along the way, Teller is forced to compromise his own morals, until his personal ideology ends up twisted and corrupted to an unrecognizable extent. He focuses only on death and mayhem at the expense of his family and friends, watching as one-by-one they meet their maker.
It’s complex stories like these that have made Sutter into the titan of FX whose name many don’t even know. Despite that lack of direct recognition, his work speaks for itself, leading to plans for him to get a Sons of Anarchy prequel series. With shows like Better Call Saul succeeding in similar arenas, the proposed prequel could be the next big venture for an incredible talent.