Sons of Anarchy, FX's thrilling, obsession-worthy drama about a biker prince's rise to power, has gotten an early pickup for a fourth season of 13 episodes. The series, which stars Charlie Hunnam (you may know his abs from the cover of Men's Fitness), Hellboy himself Ron Perlman and give-her-an-Emmy-already-for-the-love-of-god Katey Sagal, is the network's highest-rated series ever, with this season's new eps pulling in about 5 million viewers per week.
Haven't seen it yet? Want to watch something as mythic, sexy and shocking as True Blood, with all the brains of Buffy and BSG? Get our top 10 reasons to watch SOA:
1. Charlie Hunnam's character Jax Teller spends a lot of time shirtless—all the better to reveal his character's psychologically significant tattoos—or in the shower, washing off his most recent sins. (Click that Men's Fitness link above to see why this reason is No. 1 on our list.)
2. Maggie Siff, whom you may remember as badass department-store heiress Rachel Mencken from the first season of Mad Men, brings gravitas, wit and pain to the table as Dr. Tara Knowles, Jax's mate-for-life. Think Morgaine from the Mists of Avalon meets Abby Lockhart from ER.
3. Week after week, Katey Sagal, who plays morally ambiguous matriarch Gemma, will eat your heart with a spoon. Because it is bitter and because it is your heart. She is amazing, amazing, amazing.
4. Ron Perlman leads the motorcycle gang proper, which is chock-full of TV's grubbiest, funniest, snarkiest, most self-destructive sons of bitches since Lost's Sawyer. The Screen Actors Guild's entire "hoodlum" department seems to be on staff at SOA. Kim Coates, Mark Boone Jr. and Theo Rossi are particularly delightful.
5. Remember the quarterback linebacker from Remember the Titans? How about that kid who played Allison's brother Lucky on Medium? Well, that's Ryan Hurst, and he stars in SOA as Jax's best friend Opie, a beaten-down bear of a man with a heart of gold. He's so growly and fantastic you will want to keep him in a cage in your backyard.
6. Sex and violence was never so smart. SOA can be enjoyed as a gratuitously violent series—ask us about how SAMCRO does tattoo removal—but it's more fun to look a layer deeper and see the reasons behind all the skull-crushing and skank-banging. Everything on the show, no matter how barbaric, has a purpose and a reason. As the club members themselves say, "Brains before bullets."
7. Do you like the power of myth? Seriously, if you're a nerd for a good hero's journey, you must start following the adventures of Jax Teller. (Supernatural fans, Sam and Dean Winchester would agree with us, and those boys know from a hero's journey.)
8. Show runner Kurt Sutter has a seven-year arc worked out for the show, and unlike some series that meander aimlessly forever or die too soon, SOA is sure to end as planned—with a bang.
9. Sutter borrows from the best of Shakespearean tragedies to structure this show (listen closely and you'll hear echoes of Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear), and it pays off in spades. There's no other group of characters we'd rather watch struggle with the human condition.
10. You tell us. If you're already a fan of SOA, share your favorite part of the series in the comments below and help recruit us more acolytes.