The creator of FX’s acclaimed biker drama Sons of Anarchy is launching an unscripted series on Discovery Channel that profiles the world’s most notorious gangs and crime families.
Writer-producer Kurt Sutter will make his first foray into unscripted TV by executive producing and appearing in new series titled Outlaw Empires (first trailer below). The series will examine crime organizations such as the Crips street gang, the Irish Mob, a Latin American crime family, the Aryan Brotherhood and, yes, outlaw bikers. Each episode will include interviews with a criminal organization’s current and former members, some of whom are in hiding, and tell tales that Sutter promises will “make Sons of Anarchy look like Sesame Street.”
The show will differ from other cable documentaries by striving to capture the perspective of the criminals inside the organization — not unlike Sutter’s fictional Sons — rather than heavily depending on the perspective of law enforcement.
“I’ve made a career writing about fictitious anti-heroes,” Sutter said. “To create these worlds, I’ve spent a lot of time with active members on both sides of the law. And if I had to pick the most interesting of the two, the choice is obvious — we all love the guys in black. It’s not so much about justifying bad behavior, but to hear it from the inside out instead of from a distant law enforcement social judgement call.”
The tales include a gang leader who gave up the location of his own mother when she was targeted for a hit. “As a storyteller, I listen to this stuff and think: ‘I couldn’t pitch this, nobody would believe it,’” Sutter said. “For me, it was about getting inside the head of these people and understanding what drew them to this life. What’s important is to get at the humanity of it all.”
Sutter will also have a minor on-camera role, offering some of his own perspective and research on each subject. Discovery has ordered six episodes of Outlaw Empires and scheduled a May 14 debut. Eli Holzman, Stephen Lambert and Philip Lott are also executive producers on the project, which is from Sutterink and Studio Lambert.
Take a look at Discovery’s first promo for Outlaw Empires: