Last week my husband I finally caught up on the TV series Sons of Anarchy and watched the final episode. The series was remarkable – in a good way – for many things, including its complex plot lines, outstanding casting (especially some of those cameos and guest appearances – but more on that later) and its close resemblance to The Sopranos (organised crime groups, uber-violence, lots of extra-marital sex, viewers feeling empathy for the criminals despite their appalling acts). The show’s producers seem well aware of the Sopranos connection, and even play on it – Jax’s ex-wife Wendy is played by Drea de Matteo who also played Adriana on The Sopranos. There’s even a sly reference to her character on The Sopranos, when porn producer Luanne mistakes Jax’s intentions and takes fright when he asks to meet her in an empty warehouse, and he soothes her by saying, “Relax; I’m not going to Adriana you.” (Adriana was killed by mobsters in The Sopranos for co-operating with the FBI).
I was particularly intrigued by the way the show portrayed women; the men seemed to be almost casually misogynistic, and many references are made to spouses and girlfriends being “just” old ladies, yet the two main female characters, Gemma Teller and Tara Knowles, are far from being weak and swooning little women wringing their hands in the background. And let’s not forget the Machiavellian, doomed ATF agent, June Stahl. It reveals my own prejudices about my gender when I admit that, although the male characters had a shoot-out or beat up on someone every episode, I found it a little surprising, even shocking, whenever a woman did the same thing. But hey – why shouldn’t women be allowed to intimidate, wound and murder?
A couple of months I invented a drinking game to be played while watching the TV show Fringe. It seems only fair that I do the same for Sons of Anarchy.
Every time someone gets punched and actually looks like they’ve been punched (brawlers in Sons of Anarchy regularly sport facial injuries for days of script time, just like in real life) – drink. If the puncher or punchee is a woman – drink twice.
Every time a woman shoots somebody – drink. Every time a woman shoots somebody and then calls on a man to get rid of the evidence – drink twice (it’s not all equal opportunity violence after all).
Every time Jax Teller bares his chest or back to the camera – drink.
Every time Jax Teller bares his ass to the camera – drink. Drink twice if he’s baring his ass in order to have sex with someone who is not Tara. Drain your glass if he is baring his ass so he can climb into the shower to wash someone else’s blood off himself.
Every time Jax or Tara threatens to break up with the other – drink. Every time Gemma decides that the best way to deal with her marital problems is to arrange for the death of her husband – drain your glass.
Every time someone gets so wasted, they fall asleep on the pool table – drink. Drink twice if there are two comatose bodies on the pool table. Drain your glass if one of the club members passes out while giving or receiving oral sex (you’ll get the opportunity to do so at least twice).
Every time a grown man cries – drink. If that man is a big, hairy biker – drink twice. Drain your glass if it’s Gemma who has made said man cry.
If you get confused over the shifting gang alliances and lose track of who the Sons are meant to be hating and who they’re meant to be helping – that’s OK, even the characters seem to forget sometimes. And – drink.
Every time an enemy ends up buried alive up to his neck – drink.
Every time poor, fingerless Chuck saves the day – drink.
Drain your glass at the end of any episode when law enforcement officials have committed more crimes than the Sons.
Every time the show brings in a surprising yet ultimately entirely appropriate guest star or guest cameo – drink. I am referring to such thespian treasures as Henry Rollins, Danny Trejo and David Hasselhoff. If it’s a scene-stealing cameo appearance by a creepy, deadpan Stephen King, dressed all in black and riding in on a bright red Harley and going by the name of Mr Bachman (Stephen King fans will get the joke) – call up the groupies, go on a three-day booze- and drug-fuelled bender, and pass out on the pool table face down in the genitalia of a floozy named Big Red. ‘Cos that’s the Sons of Anarchy way.