As I review the BEST OF 2010 lists, I cringe at the some of the names the blogosphere is giving season three of Sons of Anarchy. "Uneven" "Problematic" "Counter-intuitive". It's fucking hard to watch your child being bullied and yet I've realized that one must live and die by buzz.
The truth is a lot of bloggers and critics are too fucking lazy to actually watch the show and form an original opinion, so they'll let a few other critics determine what the show is. In season two, a few critics tagged Sons as one of the best shows on television. That buzz was picked up and so season two was labeled "brilliant". This season, a few critics struggled with the Ireland/Baby narrative and labeled those middle episodes as confusing and off-point. That buzz was also picked up and so season three is being labeled "not-so-brilliant". The reality is that neither assessment is true. It's just that one is easier to accept that the other.
I, of course, did not see a problem with season three. Obviously. In my mind, it was the most complex and in-depth storytelling we've ever done on the show. Perhaps that's the problem. I do know that anything I say in defense of the show will land as sour grapes and desperate, so I'll let a critic describe my feelings. Tim Goodman, former critic for the SF Chronicle, now head TV critic for the Hollywood Reporter listed SOA as one of the top 18 shows of the year (#13). This was his follow up assessment --
Sons of Anarchy
Of all the excellent dramas here, fan reaction to SOA in Season 3 is the most interesting, and baffling. This outlaw biker-club series from Kurt Sutter embraces its heightened gangster mentality, its Hamlet-on-a-Harley agenda. You’ll find few series whose fans are as rabid and outspoken. The story line that took the club from the fictional Northern California town of Charming to Northern Ireland had a lot of viewers and critics claiming it meandered and that the skillfully riveting first and last episodes held together a soft middle. It’s too tough on Sutter; any creator/writer/showrunner ought to take chances — that’s essential to greatness. Had he kept SOA in Charming for a third year, playing the same tune, the backlash would rightly have been more fierce. Fans ultimately might look back at this ambitious season as instrumental in the series achieving brilliance.
Besides, who wants a show that resists change and shies from a creative leap? If you want that, turn on broadcast TV. Now that these shows are gone, you’ll get plenty of settling.