One is a tale of rogues blasting rival gangs in violent street brawls and the other is Sons Of Anarchy. What are the other themes the two programmes got in common.
1. It’s about male bonding.
You can hug and you can hate and you get to fill the awkward silences in between with idle chatter about carburettors, torque and faulty manifold pressure sensors.
2. It’s about the road.
Not the actual road, not the A406 North Circular or the A629 Elland bypass. But the concept of The Road – being free, unfettered, aiming for the heat-haze horizon and never coming home till late, unless it’s a school night.
3. It’s about odd numbers.
The Top Gear Three, the First Nine. Odd numbers are vital because there has to be a majority and a minority. Three is perfect because one always needs to be Momentarily Ostracised. And nine is, like, three times three or something.
4. It’s about winning.
Because that’s all there is. So Charles Darwin said. Although there is losing. But that’s for losers.
5. It’s about facial hair.
It’s about men who want to be men but have a tough time growing a beard. So they compensate.
6. It’s about existential doubt.
Jax had his doubts early on. But a bit of chivvying from King Clay and he’s back in line. Same with James May. He ventures out into the world to see if he can make other things, with Meccano and sticky-backed plastic, but really he just likes the certainty that comes with Clarkson’s throaty laughter and contemptuous disapproval.
7. It’s about moral relativism.
Destroying things is good, cathartic, and what can be destroyed and what must remain intact is innately understood and tacitly agreed, based a system of values agreed by Men. Over beer.
8. It’s about knowing your place.
Hammond is No.2. That’s plain. Sergeant at Arms. Like Tig. Loyal, cutting, unlikely to provoke an internal rebellion. One day he may have to leave the Pride but that day is not this day.
9. It’s not about women.
Yes, everybody wants a bosom for a pillow but a woman’s presence is by invitation only. What they can’t do is shake their heads in pity or question the merit of their men’s lifestyle or discuss Call The Midwife.
10. It’s about growing old disgracefully.
Clay and Clarkson. They are one and the same. They had it once, now it’s fading. They see the rivals hitting the gas, coming up on the inside, making their play, fearless, lithe, but they’re clinging on, the old silverbacks summoning their strength to see off the feisty young ‘uns. Only they might need an arnica rub straight afterwards.
11. It’s about nostalgia.
Everything was better when they were boys. So they stay there, occasionally venturing to the marital bed in the hope their Old Ladies will have sons and formalise their playtimes.
12. It’s about living fast and dying young.
And then, amazingly, not dying young so you’re left with a crippling legacy of bad habits, poor teeth, helmet hair and saggy earlobes.
13. It’s about dodgy fashion choices.
Oil-stained jeans and creaking leather jackets and odd shaped helmets that never work and denim.
14. It’s about belonging.
Can I play? No. Oh but you *promised*.
15. It’s about death.
Clutching at straws, friends, rules, rituals and conventions to find meaning in a meaningless world.
16. It’s about an hour long.
The new series of Top Gear is on BBC2, 8pm, Sundays and Sons Of Anarchy is available on Netflix