Is Sons of Anarchy the new Dukes of Hazzard?
It had never occurred to me before, until I was reading Stephen King’s Best TV of 2010 list (so different from my list) and he says the characters are “essentially working-class dudes walking the thin edge of the law” and the first thing I thought was, “that sounds like the Dukes of Hazzard.”
So, yes, at the most basic level there are similarities. Though the Duke boys were moonshiners and on Sons of Anarchy they’re a biker gang. And I’ve never watched Sons of Anarchy so any sort of deeper comparison isn’t going to happen.
But I think the idea of a comparison opens up our society to a look, not only in our media tastes, but how they reflect a shift in who we are.
In the 80s – the Duke boys were our idea of the anti-hero: good-looking, charming, playful, really the good guys but on the wrong side of the law. Interestingly enough, the law was greedy, corrupt and buffoonish. Everything was lighthearted and even when there was a sense of danger there was never an idea it couldn’t be overcome, which made the audience feel safe.
Now we know what an anti-hero really is. He’s not the good guy, he just generally has good intentions. But he’s dangerous and he hurts people but mostly he hurts himself. Sometimes he’s handsome but we keep watching shows about him because we find him compelling. Because he lets us walk closer to the darker side of ourselves without going over the edge. We don’t want to feel safe anymore, because we know, in life, we’re not. We just want to feel like no matter how bad it gets we can survive.