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Friday, September 7, 2018

Mayans M. C. 1.1: Pulling Us In

Hey, the Mayans M. C. debut, Kurt Sutter's latest, was good, and may well have the makings of great.   My wife and I enjoyed it.

A little context.  Sutter is best-known for his series, Sons of Anarchy, also on the FX Channel.  I first heard about Sons when I was teaching a graduate course about "Television and New Media" at Fordham University in 2013.  Each student was required to choose a TV series, and follow its reception in social media.  Most students chose high-concept, sophisticated series that I was already was watching, like The Americans.  One guy picked Sons.  I'd never heard of it, but he was a bright student, so I said sure.  His reports got me interested in the series.

But I still didn't get around to watching it - which of course required watching all of the earlier seasons (Sons of Anarchy debuted in 2008), and I wasn't quite ready to make that commitment.  Our daughter, telling us about a year later that SOA was one of the best series she'd ever seen, pushed us over the top.  We watched and devoured every episode of Sons of Anarchy, and consider it one of the very best shows ever on TV of any kind.  It was indeed high concept and sophisticated and so much more.

Mayans take place in the same place as Sons, and indeed we saw some of the Mayans in Sons.  But that means Mayans has huge burden - it's in effect competing with SOA, where there was so much powerful content that I won't even summarize.  The first episode shows that Mayans could be on track to doing that.

For Sam Crow fans, we got a quick view of Gemma (Katey Sagal), in an eight-years earlier scene with E. Z. (J. D. Pardo) in prison.  And Les Packer, a character played by Robert Patrick who appeared in a couple of episodes of Sons, leads a group Sons in support of a Mayans operation.  The Mayans and SAMCRO were by and large allies in Sons of Anarchy, so that makes sense.

It's too soon to tell if Mayans will achieve the Shakespearean heights of Sons of Anarchy, but there are already some strong and tempestuous family relationships on hand in Mayans, including father and son, and brother to brother.  Sutter wove his magic in SOA, the unlikely but irresistible mix of violence and humor, and after the first episode of Mayans, we're more than ready to give this new series a shot.

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