Sons of Liberty is a 2015 American miniseries, part of The History Channel's foray into scripted programming. It is a three-part, six-hour miniseries depicting the events that led up to The American Revolution. The show's protagonist is Sam Adams (Ben Barnes), second cousin to John Adams (Henry Thomas), and focuses on the growing unrest among the colonists and backlash against their treatment as second-class citizens by the "real" British.
Like many series based on historical events, the miniseries does take some liberties with actual events, compressing historical events, ramping up conflict, and emphasizing personal relationships alongside the prelude to war. Reviews also criticized the Historical Beauty Update given to many of the Founding Fathers, who, contrary to what the show portrays, were mostly married, philosophical fathers in their forties and fifties, not dashing young bachelors with serious fighting skills.
The series also stars Marton Csokas as Thomas Gage, Ryan Eggold as Joseph Warren, Rafe Spall as John Hancock, Michael Raymond-James as Paul Revere, Jason O'Mara as George Washington and Dean Norris as Benjamin Franklin.
A Spiritual Successor to Vikings, with its entertaining-but-not-always-accurate take on history and its slightly gritty visual style. Not to be confused with Sons of Liberty, a 1939 film about Patriot financier Haym Salomon—or to the 2nd installation of the Metal Gear Solid series.
This show provides examples of:
- Adaptational Attractiveness:
- With the exception of Joseph Warren, most of the men portrayed in this series were not young and handsome at the time of the Revolution, but well into middle age in an era without the benefits of modern hygiene. Special notice to protagonist Sam Adams, who was a twice-married, graying, fifty-year-old father, not a twenty- or thirty-something firebrand widower.
- Averted with Benjamin Franklin. Dean Norris bears a strong resemblance to the real Franklin, and his rendition of Franklin as a wise, erudite, Dirty Old Man is historically spot on.
- Agent Peacock: John Hancock evolves into a fighter, but never quite loses his style or fastidiousness.
- Band of Brothers: The rebels, with Sam Adams, John Hancock, Joseph Warren, and Paul Revere at the core.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Most of the revolutionaries don't particularly like Hancock at first, until he starts getting his hands dirty alongside them.
- Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who is familiar with the American Revolution will know that the colonists will gain their freedom from the British and the Declaration of Independence will be signed.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: Most of the Founding Fathers, though they fought battles, were more about writing pamphlets and a slow-and-steady campaign, not leaping between rooftops like an action movie hero.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: At first it seems that Major John Pitcairn of the Royal Marines will be treated this way, but he is quickly shown to be the Token Good Teammate and Only Sane Man of General Gage's staff. His only real Kick the Dog moment is actually a Mercy Kill, since Kelly's wounds would have been slowly and excruciatingly fatal with the medicine of the time. In real life, American historians remember Pitcairn as "a good man serving a bad cause."
- Meet Cute: Between Joseph and Margaret in the woods.
- Rebel Leader: Sam Adams, at least in this telling.
- Rousing Speech: Washington turns the Declaration of Independence into one.
- Sacrificial Lion: Joseph Warren's death serves this purpose in-universe for the other rebels. Major Pitcairn could be seen this way as well.
- Satellite Love Interest: Margaret seems like she's going to be this, until she delivers Joseph the warning that leads to Paul Revere's famous warning ride.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Margaret Gage and Joseph Warren
- Title Drop: The page quote comes from Benjamin Franklin addressing a British panel in the second episode.
- Took a Level in Badass: Both Joseph Warren and John Hancock start out considerably less action-oriented than their peers. By the final episode, Warren is leading a battle and Hancock shoots a soldier who is about to kill Sam and Revere.