Michael Muller/FX
Ken Tucker
September 11, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Sons of Anarchy

TV Show
Current Status
Off Air
run date
Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perelman, Katey Sagal

We gave it a B+

Sons of Anarchy didn’t strike me as much more than a brutal pulp novel of a TV series during its first season. Watching season 2, however, I’ve gotten into it, because — oh, I understand it now: It’s supposed to be brutal-pulp-novel TV!

In creator Kurt Sutter’s near-hallucinatory tales of a California motorcycle gang, our hero is the one chopper hunk with a pretty face and a sensitive soul. That would be Charlie Hunnam’s Jax, whose main squeeze is a doctor (good, tough Maggie Siff). Clay, the leader of this pack, is a big slab played by Ron Perlman, prone to hitting people and anything else in sight with his arthritic hands. He’s also Jax’s stepdad, married to Jax’s mom, Gemma, who’s portrayed by Katey Sagal. In the first episode of the new season, Gemma is gang-raped by some rivals — apparently being married to Sutter in real life and suffering through 11 seasons of Married…With Children could not save Sagal from this plotline. To her great credit, she handles the garish twist with subtlety.

The guest villain this season is a natty white separatist played by Adam Arkin with his usual bristling intelligence. (His henchman is played by Henry Rollins with his usual brute-dullard stare.) A current subplot involves Clay’s club getting heavily involved in the porn industry to raise funds and have more loose women around for consensual gangbangs. Ah, good times…

No matter who the Sons of Anarchy crew faces down, you can be sure Jax will hover over everything, reminding the viewer that there are uneasy riders with a conscience. The whole series seems like a lurid exhaustfume fantasy, but it’s a fast-paced, well-acted, profanely funny fantasy. B+

See all of this week?s reviews

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