Sons of Anarchy was packed with action and drama, and it saw some violent moments as the title club often got involved in conflicts with other clubs and more, but there’s one episode that almost got the series into trouble due to how graphic it was – but it was unrelated to any fight between gangs. In 2008, Kurt Sutter took the audience into the world of motorcycle clubs in the series Sons of Anarchy, which lived on for a total of seven seasons full of heartbreak, betrayal, and some truly unforgettable moments, both good and bad.
Set in the fictional town of Charming, California, Sons of Anarchy follows the title club through Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the VP of the club and the son of John ‘JT’ Teller, one of the club’s founding members. The series kicks off when Jax finds JT’s manifesto, in which he shared his ideas and views for the club, which were very different from those of the club’s current President (and Jax’s stepfather), Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman). This, and other problems within the club and with others send Jax on a journey that makes him question his relationships, family, and role in the club. As a result of all those conflicts, Sons of Anarchy saw the deaths of many characters, and as graphic as these were, they never got the show into trouble, but a different scene almost did.
Sons of Anarchy took inspiration from real-life motorcycle clubs and their lifestyle, but as it’s a fictional story, many of those elements were made even more dramatic than they probably are. Although most of the members of SAMCRO had families or sentimental partners, they often got involved with other people, and one of those scenes almost got Sons of Anarchy into major trouble as it was deemed “pornographic”.
Why Was Sons Of Anarchy S7, Ep 10 So Controversial, But Other Graphic Moments Weren’t?
Sons of Anarchy season 7 episode “Faith and Despondency” was criticized by the Parents Television Council for its opening scene. This two-and-a-half-minute sequence saw the members of SAMCRO having sex with their respective partners, and even though this wasn’t the first time that Sons of Anarchy showed some nudity and it definitely wasn’t the show’s first sex scene, the PTC labeled it as “pornography”. In a statement (via The Wrap), the PTC’s president, Tim Winter, described the scene as the “most sexually explicit content we’ve ever seen on basic cable, content normally found on premium subscription networks like HBO or Showtime” and said they expected other basic cable networks to air similar or more explicit content in order to “stay competitive”. Winter added that families “should not be forced to underwrite pornography” and reiterated their call on Congress, the FCC, and the Federal Courts to “give cable consumers real choice when it comes to deciding which networks they actually want to purchase”.
However, the PTC made no comment on all the graphic deaths in Sons of Anarchy or Jax tearing out someone’s eye in that same episode. Sons of Anarchy was obviously not a family show nor one that invited a younger audience to watch it, which made the PTC’s complaints feel out of place, and if kids ended up watching some of the most graphic scenes in Sons of Anarchy, it’s not the responsibility of Sutter and the network but that of parents. The PTC had previously called out Sons of Anarchy over a scene depicting a school shooting, to which Kurt Sutter replied in defense of the show and the PTC clapped back with a lengthy post. Sons of Anarchy could have gotten into trouble over many other scenes, such as when Tig’s daughter was burned alive, the graphic deaths of Opie Winston (Ryan Hurst) and Jax’s wife Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff), or when Juice (Theo Rossi) was raped in prison, but there were no complaints over those. In the end, and contrary to what the PTC claimed, Sons of Anarchy had a wide audience and received a lot of praise for the performances of its main cast and the themes it addressed, and criticism about its graphic scenes didn’t hurt the show.
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