I'm just after finishing Sons of Anarchy on Netflix (don't worry, no spoilers) and I have to say it was an enjoyable watch.
The show ran for seven seasons between 2008 and 2014 and depicted a California motorcycle gang battling issues with friends, family and the law.
The performances of the likes of Charlie Hunnam and Tommy Flanagan stood out but as an Irishman, some of it was very hard to watch.
The episodes started to trigger every bit of Irishness within me as members of the IRA got involved with the Sons of Anarchy club.
will never get over how bad the northern irish accents were in sons of anarchy pic.twitter.com/BIMeIMFHjj
— kay (@gylIedger) September 4, 2020
There were many legitimate Irish actors cast in roles such as Timothy Murphy, Paula Malcomson and the late Alan O'Neill from Fair City.
But the casting was nothing short of poor for a chunk of the 'Irish' characters. Undoubtedly the worst was Titus Welliver as Jimmy O'Phelan.
Welliver just couldn't grasp the Northern Irish tongue as an American. He sounded like he was meshing the accents of South Dublin, Belfast and South African at times.
People giving out about all the dodgy Irish accents in Wild Mountain Thyme. Nothing will ever EVER surpass the pain of those Irish seasons of Sons of Anarchy pic.twitter.com/2w79pPh1h7
— Kevin Breslin (@KevineBreslin) November 10, 2020
Season 3 is set in Belfast and the casting director for Sons of Anarchy decided it was a good idea to rope in Americans to play native Northern Irish folk.
Some of the local accents from the PSNI in the video below have not aged well.
Season 1&2 of Sons of Anarchy are ok, but in season 3 they decided to take the show to Belfast for some reason.
Show runners thought modern Belfast still looks like 1970s troubles-era Belfast, and everyone has a grim fake Irish accent.
Found a clip and its worse than I remember pic.twitter.com/NyKFInExvI
— no (@OweyH) August 26, 2021
In fairness Titus Welliver (above) did have a fairly legitimate excuse when discussing his 'Irish' accent with Entertainment Weekly:
I didn't really nail it, to be honest with you. There's a story behind that. I got a call from my manager and he said, 'Hey there's this great role that you've been offered on Sons of Anarchy,' and he said, 'How's your Irish accent?'. And I said, 'Well, you know it's an accent. Yeah, I can pull it together. When do I start shooting?'
I'm thinking he's going to tell me this doesn't happen for a few weeks. 'You're on a plane, if you accept this you're on a plane tomorrow.' So I had to kind of just jump in and would listen to stuff on my phone and call some family and friends back in Ireland and would say, 'How would you say x, y and z?' And I have a pretty good ear but that's a very cobbled accent.
Even my family members would say, 'Oh I watched the show last night, and they would be like, 'In one scene you were from Donegal and in another scene, it sounded like you were from Belfast'.
The whole season in Belfast felt like a drag and while they got some elements right, it was hard to see past the awful accents.
Things got even worse later in the seasons when August Marx, a business partner of the Sons, dropped one of the most cringeworthy lines in television history.
Please see below:
If you're willing to see past the butchered Irish accents and unnecessary Irish references, Sons of Anarchy is quite a good show.
It might be too much for some and that's understandable. Especially if you're from Belfast, this will not be an easy watch.