Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Character Analysis: Gemma Teller Morrow


Gemma and Clay
       Since I started reviewing Sons of Anarchy as part of this blog, there has been one issue that has consistently tugged at me deep down inside. How did Katy Sagal get casted to play the role of Gemma Teller Morrow, the unofficial "First Lady" for the Sons of Anarchy? To provide a brief backdrop that hasn't been covered in full detail in my previous blogs, Gemma is Jax's mother and was previously married to the founder of SAMCRO, John Teller (Jax's father). Sometime after John passed away, Gemma began dating Clay who is the current leader of SAMCRO and with whom she is still in a romantic relationship. Through the first two episodes, Gemma's dislike for Jax's ex-wife (Wendy), who had just given birth to her grandchild in the first episode, has been the focal point of her plot involvement in the series. She has also had other smaller roles thus far, but nothing that affected the plot substantially enough to be highlighted in my previous blogs. 

        So why am I now writing a blog solely on Katy Sagal and her portrayal of Gemma? For one, I get the sense that Gemma will become a much more mainstream and important character as the season progresses, and want to shed light on this before it happens. But secondly- and more importantly in my mind- I wanted to discuss how/why Katy Sagal may have been chosen for this role. Don't get me wrong- I have nothing against Katy Segal as an actress and so far I don't have any negative comments regarding her portrayal of Gemma. I just find her to be an interesting choice based on some of her previous shows. Her most famous role is arguably her portrayal of Peggy Bundy in Married with Children, where she portrayed a family woman with a sarcastic sense of humor and an 80s sense of fashion. 



       One of Katy Sagal's other most prominent roles was in 8 Simple Rules for Dating Your Teenage Daughter, where she once again portrayed the ultimate mother figure. She was a caring, sympathetic and understanding wife (to the late John Ritter) and mother (to two children, one of whom was Kaley Cuoco of Big Bang Theory fame) that left most viewers envious of her handling of such a hectic household.





        Now obviously many actors and actresses have depth in their abilities, and its not unusual to hear about someone undertaking a role that the general public would never anticipate and then proceeding to flourish (i.e. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight). However, the transition from motherly figure in the two shows mentioned above to a character that is cut-throat, vulgar and pompous is a shocking turn of events in my estimation. Once again, I still do not have any qualms with her portrayal of Gemma, yet I often find myself almost unwilling to believe that this is the same actress: 


WARNING: Contains Strong Language 

        There is one other connection that may explain why Katy Sagal was tapped for the role of Gemma. In 2004, Katy Sagal married Kurt Sutter. Sutter is famous for creating and producing The Shield on FX in 2002, and in 2008 he created and produced a show on FX entitled.....Sons of Anarchy. Was Sutter's marriage a factor in tabbing Sagal to play the lead female role in Sons of Anarchy? Only the cast and crew may know for sure, but it is a worthy thought considering how the role differs from her previous acting portrayals.   

        Either way it came to fruition, it looks like Kurt Sutter and his staff made the right call in tabbing his wife for the role of Gemma. After all, you usually don't win Golden Globes (like she did in 2011) for poor acting.

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