#26: the terminator (james cameron, 1984)
music friday

so shut up already about sons of anarchy

This will probably the last post on this topic, at least until Season Five. Kurt Sutter has a blog post commenting on the response to this week’s Season Four finale. Sutter has a very colorful way of writing about critics, and he’s even more expansive when it comes to “bloggers”. That’s me, I suppose, although I’m quite certain Kurt Sutter has never read a word I’ve written. But he reads somebody out there, because bloggers piss him off for being stupid.

There are critics Sutter respects, though, and they aren’t necessarily just the ones who like everything he does. In his blog post, he gets at what he sees is the problem:

I think the bigger issue is a lack of understanding of what the show really is. And that isn't to say that critics are stupid. Some are. Most aren't. But a lot of critics don't seem to understand what I'm trying to do season after season. It's like going to see a Summer blockbuster movie and being disappointed because it's not as complex as the Godfather. …

Sepinwall and others continue to bang their heads against a wall, applying a level of analysis that is best reserved for a David Simon show. The Wire, we ain't, nor do we aspire to be. For the record, SOA is an adrenalized soap opera, it's bloody pulp fiction with highly complex characters. Often, I think the depth of the characters, the emotionality of the writing and the amazing performances is what confuses critics. Those qualities put the show on par with other great dramas. But then I'll go and cut the balls off a clown or turn a plot point absurdly upside down and I will most certainly blow something the fuck up. It's those things that drive critics crazy.

Fair enough. Sons of Anarchy isn’t The Wire, and it’s unfair to hold The Wire up as the standard when its greatness marks it as an outlier. The better comparison is with The Shield. The Shield is the best show FX has ever run, but “adrenalized soap opera” describes it much better than “The Wire in Los Angeles”. Like Sons of Anarchy, The Shield was erratic, and like Sons of Anarchy, people like me got more irritated with The Shield than we would with lesser shows, because we cared.

The Shield rewarded our attention. It may have irritated, but it never lost its appeal as an adrenalized soap opera. And the conclusion of the series ranks with the best endings ever. If Sutter continues to deliver with the complex characters and the adrenaline and the blowing things up, I’ll enjoy it. And if, when it’s all over, it proves to be as satisfying as was The Shield, I’ll be in awe. But until then, I’ll continue to give the show the level of analysis I’d give to all of the best shows. Because Sons of Anarchy isn’t just a good show, it’s something better. Our expectations are high.


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