I tend to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to, well, basically anything that is popular at any given time. This is especially true of TV shows and movies. But, thanks to Netflix, we can now binge-watch all kinds of shows that we missed out on when they originally aired.
The hubby and I just finished watching all seven seasons of Sons of Anarchy, or SOA as many refer to it. It originally ran from 2008 – 2014. If you haven’t watched it, I won’t give away anything specific. But, I will tell you, it is a show that my hubby and I both got sucked into and ultimately really enjoyed. I think I was drawn to it because it is basically the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but with a motorcycle gang set in modern day California. (And, well, I am a theatre nerd after all—so how could I resist?)
I will also tell you it gets really bloody, and really messed up. I mean really messed up. There are quite a few scenes that are very disturbing. Plus, the basic content of the show can be considered, well, bad. To give you an idea, it is about a motorcycle club that runs guns, porn, and gets into drugs. There is lots of gruesome stuff; killing and death. There is also a lot of bad language. Basically, it is a violent show. These reasons alone are solid reasons to NOT watch it—especially if you can’t handle those sorts of things.
On the other hand, if you enjoy lots of action, a ton of twists and turns, and highly complex characters that take you on a journey and can somehow make you either relate to them or have empathy for them or both, and can handle lots of blood and gore, then look no further. Sons of Anarchy is FX’s highest rated series of all time, so that should tell you something. I think it is also important to note that Hamlet is a tragedy, and so is SOA.
So, considering it can and probably is viewed by Christians as an unsavory show (to say the least), why on earth would I be writing about it on Focus on God + Good? Well, I must be honest with you: 1) because these characters reverberate the many ways in which we are all human and hence, flawed and 2) because I think there are some valuable lessons to be gleaned from watching this show.
Without going into specifics of the show and thus spoiling it too much for you, I thought I would share with you some of the bright spots that I took away from watching it.
First, people change. This is something that we all know. What I enjoyed so much about some, but sadly not all, of the characters on SOA is we see them go from having compulsive disorders or being addicted to drugs, to being rehabilitated, vibrant people who become valuable members of the SAMCRO family. (SAMCRO stands for Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original.)
It is a beautiful thing to see people go from bad to good, lost to found, unloved to loved. It is also a great reminder that in real life, people can and do change for the better. Seeing the characters that did change for the better gives you hope that, if they can do it, so can anyone.
Second, we get to witness the major internal struggles of the main characters. While many shows on TV gloss over the internal struggles of their characters, SOA hits them head on. The conflicts that arise on SOA are many, varied, and deep. And, the variety of ways that they are written into the show lends an honesty and credibility to the show.
As you watch the characters change and grow over the course of seven seasons, you come to identify with them and their trials. The actors on SOA do an amazing job of living out their unbelievable, complicated lives. They connect their characters to real life. They make you care about them. You understand them because maybe you or someone you know has been in a similar situation. Or, you think about how you would act or react if you were in their shoes. Or, as is the case for me, you just come to the realization that life can be a very complicated and messy thing. (If we let it.)
Next, and this is my biggest take-away from SOA, is that during the course of this show, a truth that I have known for a quite a while now was substantiated time and time again. And, that truth is this: forgiveness is a powerful and blessed thing.
I think the reason this was so poignant for me was because there seemed to be very little, if any, forgiveness in SOA. There was however, loads of revenge, tit for tat. During almost every season of this show, I kept thinking to myself how much better off these characters would be if they just learned how to forgive each other and themselves. All the retribution, all the death, it clearly ate away at the core of the characters, ate away at their souls. And, the really sad part to me, was that most of it did not need to happen. (Yes, I realize that this is a TV show where, had the characters learned how to forgive, there would not have been much of a show left. But, I digress…)
I kept thinking of how much trouble they would have saved themselves, if they had just learned how to forgive. I kept thinking of how many lives that could have been saved, if they had just learned how to forgive. I kept thinking of how much sorrow they could have avoided, if they had just learned how to forgive.
Learning how to forgive and extend grace and mercy are vital to our growth as Christians. I think the sooner that we grasp this, the better. Watching this show gave me an eye-opening perspective on just how beneficial forgiveness can truly be. And, why it is so worthwhile.
We learn from reading the Bible the importance of forgiveness. Lack of forgiveness blocks access to our wonderful God. Forgiving allows you to cleanse yourself of any resentment or bitterness you have. It frees you! It is the lack of forgiveness that weighs us down and comes between us and God. Matthew 5:23-24 tells us, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” We can also read about forgiveness in Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-25, Mark 11:25, and Psalm 103:12, among other places.
Oddly enough, while there was very little forgiveness or mercy in SOA, there was quite a bit of religious symbolism that reared its head throughout all seven seasons. Just for fun, I thought I would end this post by sharing some of the ones I came across with you.
· There are many scenes located in the chapel of the local hospital, where one main
· The grandfather of the main character, Jax Teller, was a Reverend for fourteen years.
His name is Nate Madock. My favorite line from Nate is, “God forgives everyone
sweetheart.” (Yes! He certainly does.)
· The title of season 6, episode 11 is "John 8:32" (Then you will know the truth, and the
truth will set you free.)
· In season 5, episode 10, entitled “Crucifixed” a crucifix is used as a murder weapon.
· Season 6 premiered with a young boy shooting up his Catholic school.
· In the series finale, a homeless woman, whom we have seen before in other episodes,
is found eating a loaf of bread and drinking a bottle of wine.
· And, my favorite of all—in season 7, episode 6, called “Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em”, has
the character of Juice in a convenience store looking for a specific brand of cigarettes.
The brand is called St. Dismas. Dismas was the penitent thief who was crucified at
Jesus’ right hand at Calvary.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.