‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Creator Kurt Sutter Tackles Third Season Challenges

by | September 5, 2010 at 10:35 AM | Fall TV Preview 2010, Sons of Anarchy

Kurt Sutter and wife Katey Sagal at the 'Sons of Anarchy' season three premiere August 30 in Los Angeles.  (Kevin Winter, Getty Images)

Kurt Sutter and wife Katey Sagal at the 'Sons of Anarchy' season three premiere August 30 in Los Angeles. (Kevin Winter, Getty Images)


About the time most people on this long holiday weekend rubbed on a fresh layer of sun bloc and planned their Saturday evening barbecue, Kurt Sutter, creator and executive producer of ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ was logging onto his blog, Sutterink.com, and posting a 150 proof-shot of musings about his show’s third season premiere September 7.

“It would be very easy for me to repeat what worked in season two — create some internal beef that provided intensity and tension within the club (Jax and Clay), bring in another big nemesis (Zobelle), throw those two conflicts at each other (Gemma’s rape) and watch the blood flow,” he wrote. “Yes, I’m sure it would be okay and people would like it. But ultimately, I would be cheating my own creative process and your dedication as well.”

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The post was vintage Sutter: strong, raw, honest, loaded with F-bombs, instructive, and thoroughly entertaining – in other words, all the reason more than 3 million people have logged onto his blog. Like his show, he delivers an unflinching and unfiltered take on life, in this case the life of a top Hollywood writer/producer. His July missive to Lindsay Lohan after a judge sentenced her to 90 days in the hooskow was a classic – and typical.

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“There is only one thing I know for sure,” he wrote. “I promise you that this is the truth – if you stay on the path you are now, if you don’t experience some kind of psychic shift, if you don’t dig deep and tap into some humility, you will die. Very soon.

“That may sound dramatic and like a bad PSA, but sadly, it’s the truth, darling. You will be dead before you turn 30. And it will be ugly and sordid and it will line the pockets of the sycophants that plague you.”

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Sutter, who guested last fall on a Fancast live chat with ‘Sons’ star Charlie Hunnam (we’ll try to get him back for this season), was also the subject of a profile in the LA Times, one that painted a colorful picture of the long-haired, tattooed writer (“ex addict, foul-mouthed, hot-tempered”) as the independent, obsessive, passionate, workaholic you’d expect from watching his show, a sort of rusty can compared to ‘Mad Men’s polished EP Matt Weiner or ‘Desperate Housewives’ life-of-the-party Marc Cherry. But Sutter is as good as anyone in the business and much more entertaining.

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In fact, if you like ‘Sons,’ you’re going to like Sutter the blogger even better. His posts provide fans with a rare, direct pipeline to both the creative process and the creator. It’s as if Sutter is delivering rants out his home office window like a modern-day Howard Beale in ‘Network.’ Last June, he wrote, “So my response to the Emmy’s has somehow been spun into an angry ran. I don’t know, maybe it was. But you should have seen the one I deleted.” In early August, he updated fans on the progress of the first 13 episodes, and two weeks ago he opened up about the pressure and expectations of thia new season following the ratings increase last year.

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“Folks keep asking me about numbers — will the premier be as big as last year, bigger, what do I expect? To me, the growth of Sons of Anarchy between season one and season two was an extraordinary anomaly. It was a result of the show’s season one premier getting sideswiped by the RNC Palin speech and the steady increase of fans we added as season one continued.

“We had like a 90% increase between the season one and season two premiers (something close to that). Unfortunately, this season, anything less than another huge increase will most likely be labeled a failure. Look at Mad Men — they retained their big season three growth and even added a few percentage points this season, but the press tagged it a disappointment.

“I would gladly accept that disappointment. I will be very happy if all the fans we had last year show up again this year. Yes, it would be awesome to grow, but in this TV landscape, retaining that huge growth between season one and two would be very satisfying.”

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In his latest post on Saturday afternoon, Sutter reiterated his excitement for this new season and promised “a very different viewing experience for fans,” one stemming from his effort to avoid the “trap” he says shows “sometimes fall into…in season three.”

“Writers and producers often figure out what works in season one, expand on that in season two, then try to do it again in season three,” he said.

Not Sutter.

“As an artist, I try to stay tasty,” he wrote. “I constantly challenge my process. To do that, you must take risks. You must be willing to move away from anything that feels like formula. That approach is in complete contrast to the way many networks think. They want familiar, they want you to repeat what worked…Unfortunately that philosophy is creative death and counterintuitive to generating compelling television.”

“So on this season of Sons of Anarchy, we expand beyond the emotional/geographical boundaries of Charming and our primary beefs, to divulge deeper mythological conflicts. The mythology revealed this season will serve as gasoline for the familial fires that will ultimately set our antiheroes ablaze. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I’ve enjoyed making it.”

Tune in to season three of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ September 7 at 10 pm on FX and keep up with the series on xfinityTV and On Demand from xfinity.