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Sons of Anarchy’s Tara Becomes the Latest Fan-Bro Target

Maggie Siff's character is the latest woman some fans are attacking for getting in the way of their favorite bad boy antihero.

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Before Breaking Bad came to an end this fall, Anna Gunn wrote an incisive New York Times op-ed about the fans–especially men–who had developed a consuming hate for Skyler White, her character on Breaking Bad. Though Skyler was, after all, married to a lying, murdering drug dealer, she was the one fans turned on as a shrew and a buzzkill–a common fate among the wives and female associates of TV antiheroes going back to Carmela Soprano. Now it’s Maggie Siff’s Tara on Sons of Anarchy having her turn in that cultural barrel, and she talked to Entertainment Weekly about the experience. It’s worth listening to, and reading, before the show’s sixth season finale:

[T]hese shows are always set up so we follow a protagonist and the story is very intricately built around caring for them in some way. And so anybody who runs counter to that is going to run into the problem of people turning on them. But I also think there are pretty deep gender cultural issues that have to do with a certain kind of fantasy of male and female roles, and a certain kind of fantasy around this anti-hero — the man who does terrible, terrible things but who we root for anyway because it’s an enactment of an adolescent male fantasy that people take great pleasure in seeing played out. And people who run counter encounter a lot of hostility. I think it’s the hostility that’s the most disturbing thing — the amount of vehemence or anger or righteousness that people can feel when they say, “She should be shot. She should be killed.”

You only have to see so much of this vitriol, so many times, on so many shows, before you see the sexism at work. And it’s sickening. Skyler and Carmela made some ugly moral compromises. So has Tara: this season, attempting an elaborate fake-pregnancy lie and scheming to escape Charming with Jax’s children. But 1) the audience easily gives more license to the ugly things the men of SAMCRO do, and 2) little bit of an extenuating circumstance, wouldn’t you think, for a mom trying to get her kids away from a murderous criminal organization?

I posted about this Tara-hate phenomenon on Twitter earlier this season, though, and got some defenses of that viewpoint not just from men but from women, so I think there are factors here that are not sexism, strictly, though they’re entangled in it. SOA is a story about people who love and fight for family and wrestle with the right thing, but they’re also, by and large, violent criminals. You can watch a show like this–like Breaking Bad, like The Sopranos–and be fascinated by the characters without approving of them. But not everyone is going to do that. For some viewers, the question will be: “Every week I root for Jax to do something awesome and fix his problems. If I am not against anyone who gets in his way, why am I even watching this show?”

I should stress here that there’s a difference between some fans’ attitudes toward Tara and the show’s attitude itself. Kurt Sutter doesn’t always strike a perfect balance between cheerleading SAMCRO and questioning its actions, but his show generally makes its women strong and multifaceted. Tara is good and bad, like most of the characters on this show, but SOA has a sympathy for her that I think some fans just don’t pick up on. The end of a recent episode, in which Tara realizes that her escape scheme has failed and she has nowhere to go, was for my money one of the most emotionally wrenching moments of the whole season.

That’s not going to stop some fans, though–in what is becoming a very, very tiring and depressing story–from signing up with Team Jax and making Tara the enemy. You can try to bring people a morally complex biker story, but some of them are simply not going to go along for the ride.

19 comments
Ava_Barlow
Ava_Barlow

I personally wanted Tara gone a long time ago due to horrible casting. That woman does not fit the role of biker wife. She is too plain looking. Cast her as a preachers wife or a lesbian but a doctor/biker wife is absurd. She fits neither of those. If Tara's character was played by an actress that was beautiful, badass & intelligent, such as Carla Gugino, Alexandra Breckenridge or Lake Bell, I would be devastated that Gemma killed her but since casting messed this character up big time I'm just glad she's gone & hope the next woman Jax gets with suits him better. 

BonnieB
BonnieB

Do disappointed she was a good mother no matter what I hope Gemma gets what she deserves she has always done the wrong things for the wrong reasons usually her own selfish gain, She should have been killed instead would have made me feel better about this show.

djacks2435
djacks2435

Could it be some don't like her because she had a good and promising future and then chose to have a family with a murderous outlaw? 


Nope, must be sexism....


Not like she didn't know what she was getting into. I didn't actually start cheering for her until she decided enough was enough and tried to get her sons out of that life.


MarlenaJackson
MarlenaJackson

i hope gemma gets hers sad that tara died but it had to happen I guess and wendy kill her off the show now all you can do is see how this takes jax and what he does next season but I do hope jemma and juice gets what it coming to them jemma gets away with a lot of stuff and it needs to come to a end

Fr0ntSight
Fr0ntSight

I can't believe a man wrote this.  I seriously thought I was reading the sad words of a feminist.

Repercussions
Repercussions

@DarrienPopeYou can't compare Tara to a group of murdering psychopaths. NOTHING is more horrible than someone who kills, tortures, rapes, etc and justifies it, all crimes the Sons are guilty of. For you to compare her to them and say she's no better, makes me believe your moral compass is a little off.


While she did choose to stay, people change, people make mistakes. It suddenly hit her how big a mistake it was to stay, and so she decided she needed to get her kids out of it. Recent events where the kids were put in danger were the last straw that pushed her over the edge. As Tara admitted tonight, she believed her bond with Jax would get them through anything, maybe even change him for the better, as she saw good in him under all of the disturbing and ugly. She didn't want Abel and Thomas to turn into monsters like Jax though. Seeing how much worse Jax became woke her up. In Tara's case, she was a victim of her own feelings for Jax. She truly believed in them. That was HER mistake and bad judgment call, it's on her.


But really? How bad is it to suggest she deserved getting drowned in a sink, then stabbed in the head with a fork? She never deserved a death like that for what she's done. Yes, it was coming with such a lifestyle, but not deserved. If you were in Tara's situation in real life and made stupid decisions, I wouldn't justify you dying a brutal death. THIS is what Maggie meant by saying, "I think it’s the hostility that’s the most disturbing thing — the amount of vehemence or anger or righteousness that people can feel when they say, 'She should be shot. She should be killed.'" People need to calm down and stop jumping for the, "OMFG, DEATH!!!!11!" card. Really. I don't even care if it's just a show. It carries over into real life where people think it's okay to throw death threats at people solely because they hate them.


Geez.

freddyesquivel50
freddyesquivel50

Gemma just said on the episode that she was doing a balloon that doesn't seem like she's trying to me Tara was willing to die for her boys ,her marriage that is a real mom to me Wendy's was the one that should have been kicked off a long time ago she deserve to get her ass kicked by Gemma anybody did you forget when Abel was born and he was in the incubator dying Tara was the one that saved his life.

lovelove.eg
lovelove.eg

Sooo mad what happened to Tara now what happens to Jax does he go to jail for what Gemma did and the kids get left with a monster for a grandma old BIT**H needs to get ran over hit by a car or have a heart attack and get kicked off the show very disappointed with Tara dying now we have to wait 6 months to find out what's going to happen did anybody think about the children???? and Jax better not get back with Wendy she's a crackhead.

DarrienPope
DarrienPope

I think it has a lot more to do with people seeing how hard Jax works with her and his legitimate working to get out of violent business and her doing this stuff after a very short question of did you sign the papers (at the beginning of the season). I wouldn't side with either one of them but Tara is no better and the shes trying to save her family thing is just the same as the excuses SOA uses every day to justify their dealings. Also most of the situations SOA ran into towards the beginning of this series were kill or be killed situations, Tara's reason for turning is speculation (a good speculation but still speculation none-the-less). If Jax died at the end of season 7 people would be hurt but they'd know it was the life he chose, if Tara died at season 5 before all of this crap people would be extremely hurt and would have felt she didn't deserve that at all, however...fork

Majnun
Majnun

I dunno James, this seems pretty weak. Are there people that hate Tara? Definitely, unfairly so, but I don't get why it's a story every time a group of people with stupid opinions have stupid opinions. It's not like you are saying these are the best and brightest, you insult them in the headline (fan-bro).

I gotta say, hearing an interview before a season finale from someone associated with the show, and having bad dudes be brought up that confirm all your original conceptions of bros on the Internet, and then running an article on it... Doesn't that seem pretty similar to what you warned against yesterday with the google fake? I'm not saying this stuff isn't real, but you can find bigoted fans online of literally every show.

pcm501994
pcm501994

Hey even as a guy who's really invested in the story of Jax and his endless tirade of moral dilemmas I don't agree with this fan base against Tara. If you really have watched the show from the beginning and with a sense of captivation for these characters you realize that you get sucked in for their good qualities but they all have qualities that need redeeming because after all these are criminals we as the audience are rooting for. And even people like Tara who didn't join this life in pursuit of criminal enterprise end up dirtying their hands just as much as the club if not more. All I have to say is f**k you to anyone against Tara because at the end of tonight's season 6 finale she's still going to be standing with her sons and right back at Jax's side because no matter what they've been through there's no way Jax kills her or gets her out of his life. And just one thing to end with, if you are one of the Tara haters you need to go back and watch the whole series again. This is because no matter what even with the fake pregnancy/ miscarriage and running with Abel and Thomas she was always doing it for them, so as heinous as she got with her betrayed to Jax it was always for the right reason and that's what Jax is going to realize in tonight's finale.

Poppersci
Poppersci

Some people view art as a social network, I guess. They have to like and be friends with the character or else the art isn't good. Compounding this view--say, more than a work of literature, where the tone can make clear how the author views his hero--is the longevity and intimacy of the TV experience: these people come into our homes when we come home from a rough day and just want to relax. We chose their shows to relax with, just like we would do with friends. And they come to us every week for years. It's depressing that this phenomenon of fan-bro exists, but it's not surprising.

cjsully
cjsully

He won't go down for the murders no evidence points to him. Also Wendy is not a crackhead she's a heroin addict... and I think you need to give her some credit for trying to straighten out again

freddyesquivel50
freddyesquivel50

No second chances for pregnant women that do crack by the cause of it have children with heart problem

chelsea.hwoods
chelsea.hwoods

@freddyesquivel50 I suppose you missed the whole "the Morrow family heart problem" line that has been popping up since season one? They even specifically explained that Abel's heart condition wasn't caused by the drug use, and Gemma's scar in her cleavage is also a pretty constant reminder of that...