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When we were given the option to write about any television show we wanted to for this essay I immediately thought of Sons of Anarchy as an automatic go to. I started watching this show back in 2008 and still am tuned into the current and final season this year. I was immediately a fan of this show after hearing about if from my Father. Not really being a fan of many television shows at the time this program stood out to me because of the edgy violence, drug abuse, and gunfights. I think a lot of the being is based upon an outlaw motorcycle gang located in California is enough to pull in any teenage male at the time. As I got older and continued to watch the show I could see that it was more than just a show about action and violence. Especially while taking this class I began to look into the deeper meaning of the episodes and began to watch Youtube videos interviewing the director and cast to get a better understanding of it. I want to present what I believe this program aims to achieve and identify itself as, also I want to discuss some of the themes in the show that make it relate to the audience at a personal level. Sure not everybody gets up for work and hops on the motorcycle carrying a pistol for whatever the day may bring. However we all can relate to experiences with family struggles, having a sense of belonging, and standing up against something we might not agree with. These are just a few example of themes that this show presents. There are many more and I could probably write this paper on the entire first season but I will stick to the pilot episode.
First, to begin with the technicalities of this show I did some research to learn that this show is shot upon live locations quite a bit however most of the common reoccurring scenes such as the clubhouse, are indeed Hollywood studio sets. This leads me to believe that this show utilizes both single camera and multi camera telefilm studio production techniques. I like how in the beginning of the Pilot episode you are right there on the road with main character Jackson Teller while he rides his bike along the California roads in the early morning. The camera work is all over the place on this show and I think that adds to the action aspect quite a bit as I have noticed since upon watching action shows and films. This show is a product of the convergence era seeing as how it kicked off in 2008, you can stream this show, purchase seasons online, and watch it on your phone if you please. Not only that you can catch previews of the upcoming episodes, aftermath specials with cast, and occasionally a message from creator Kurt Sutter himself. I think these aspects of the modern era in media really engage the viewer to keep the spirit of the show going after the show is over even. Watching the show for a while you will learn that each episode ties in with the next and there is indeed a set reoccurring cast of the show. I believe it is a episodic serial format for those reasons, I would also like to mention how this show is shot in such a way that you feel that you need to know what happens in the next episode immediately after the current one is over. They leave you with perfectly shot cliff hangers. This also causes me to look at the way this show was shot in its entirety as more of a series of short films. If you put together all of the episodes for each season you could have movies with all of the content covered. Another reason why I absolutely love this show. I think you can enjoy this show really at any age around 16 to 17 and older. Although I would be advised to be 18+ to really understand some of the shows heavy content.
When you are watching this show about a gang that deals guns, that are outlaws, that all work at a motorcycle shop you see almost two completely different sides of this family. I call them a family because they are that exactly and some really are related. Clay is the leader of the show, it doesn’t take long that connect him with being the dominant antagonist figure, along with him Gemma is at his side as his lover, she is also the mother of protagonist Jackson Teller. The crew themselves is not clearly defined as good or bad until later episodes reveal alliances towards “Jax” for short, and Clay. The pilot begins with a conflict that causes other gangs in the area to be involved with the Sons at a business and rivalry revengeful level. They must solve the issue to keep the business of selling guns going but that comes with great costs of risking their lives to do so.Leader of the Sons Clay is considered old school and not afraid to play dirty. Besides all of this going on Jax is expecting a baby boy on the way. Jax presented as a good looking, well-mannered bad boy figure right from the beginning of the pilot, he makes a discovery that changes his outlook on how the club was meant to operate, to keep it short, and this causes him to question the direction of the club. The club is structured as a democracy and there is a President, VP, Treasurer, and so on. They take votes and show respect to the hierarchy of the club. I think it is interesting that despite being outlaws they have order and like Italian mafia for example they show respect to one another until things get dirty! So really there is two stories going on at the same time during the pilot. Both focused on Jax primarily and defiantly and example of hailing him as the good guy. One of more of the gang related lifestyle of Jax and the other more human side of his life with his son being born. I think the reason behind this was to really show the viewer who the main character was as a person in all. Within the episode there are a few example of him standing up and doing the right thing. Jax does not believe in killing people if he doesn’t have to. Clay on the other hand does not think twice about killing of anyone pissed him off. This is just one example. Everyone looks out for each other and family is very important to everyone in the gang, for the most part. The themes he is faces with is what I would like to touch up on next because I find them to be very important to what makes the show able to relate to the audience. The show does reflect the life of badass bikers that drink, smoke, shoot people and deal guns. However these people still face hardships such as family struggles, paying bills, drug abuse, hard justice, and living everyday knowing you could get violently killed. The show clearly presents these people as criminal outlaws however you learn that most of them are good people at heart and have a strong love for family and community. Not many other shows present the criminal class of society in this way, nor do they show the concern for family and friends like this show does. What sets this television show aside from others is the mature content it carries yes, but also how values and disclosures are presented to the audience. You begin to see the rise of the good bad guy in a sense with Jax. You feel compassion for him as a young father because of his baby boys struggle for life. You also see him look at things differently to veer away from the gun dealing because he sees the violence it brings and the people involved in it. If I really had to put my finger on one dominant idea expressed by this show it would have to be that there are criminals with hearts that look out for one another, respect their community, and face the same issues normal people face. I think what makes this show great is its sense of identity with the motorcycle gang culture. Everyone looks it and acts it perfectly and does a good job convincing you it is there way of life. You start to establish favorite characters early on and side with them in a sense as things tensions rise. This is why I feel like this show does a great job at connecting to the audience.
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