Sons of Anarchy ended its 7-season run in 2014, and is still regarded as one of the best serialized dramas to ever grace the airwaves. The show was created before the “golden age of television” as we know it, and heralded a new generation of gritty, heartfelt storytelling on TV.
Sons of Anarchy centered around Jackson Teller (Charlie Hunnam), with each episode taking us deeper into his world, which revolved around an outlaw biker gang in Northern California. Kurt Sutter was the creative force behind Sons of Anarchy, who envisioned it as a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. However, as Kurt Sutter recently revealed, the show almost ended being vastly different to the version that fans fell in love with.
Kurt Sutter Fought To Keep His Vision For Sons Of Anarchy Alive
Kurt Sutter was scheduled to attend a Sons of Anarchy Directors panel at the ATX TV Festival in Austin, Texas, but he could not make it because of his work obligations. In lieu of a personal appearance, Sutter face-timed during the panel, joining fellow directors Paris Barclay and Adam Arkin.
During the panel, Sutter spoke about Sons of Anarchy’s early days on FX, and how the network tried to push the show in a completely different direction:
“Serialized dramas were struggling and there was a mandate to do standalone episodes,” he said. “All I knew how to do was a serialized drama. It was difficult. Then the serialization got so deep by episode five or six, they took the handcuffs off and I got to do what I wanted to do.”
FX’s original plan was to make the show more accessible to audiences, and wanted Sons of Anarchy to operate more as a procedural drama (in the vein of CSI, Law and Order, and NCIS). Sutter revealed that this was not his vision for the show, and fought like hell to tell his long-form serialized story:
“I sent everyone angry emails, that pretty much set the tone for my entire career. It was trial and error, some ideas worked and some didn’t. I tried to surround myself with people who knew more than I did. I don’t think we found the rhythm of the show ’til halfway through the first season.”
For fans of the series, it’s easy recognize the "trial and error" storytelling Sutter is talking about, and his comments line up with the radical shift in tone we saw from the pilot episode to the Sons of Anarchy Season 1 finale. The first few episodes set up single events, with the only constant being Jax’s emotional journey. Toward the end of the first season, the show found its rhythm, and established a solid through-line that carried into Season 2.
Sons of Anarchy was anchored by Sutter’s own attitude, and in many ways, it mirrored his personality (especially when you compare him to Otto, the character he portrayed on the show) . It’s doubtful that any member of the MC would send angry emails to someone, but they would fight with conviction to get their way, which is a sentiment that Sutter shares with the characters he created.
Fans of the series are thankful that Sutter fought for his vision of the show, and because he did, Sons of Anarchy is now in the upper echelon of serialized TV dramas. Kurt Sutter is currently working on a new Sons of Anarchy spin-off series, titled #MayansMC, which does not have an official premiere date, but looks to be part of the Fall 2017 line-up. Here's hoping that Mayans MC continues the legacy of quality and innovation left by Sons of Anarchy.
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