I started Teen Wolf when it premiered in 2011, but dropped off after the first season because
that was a traumatic year I wasn’t all that into it. I wasn’t overly interested by a nice high school boy-cum-wolf. I wasn’t sure where the series was going to go, and, as with many an MTV show, I just forgot to watch it. But recently, in need of some binge-able background distraction while doing monotonous work (or not doing said work), I decided to tap into the show’s backlog, which is available on Amazon Prime instant video. This was a great/terrible decision because I became enamored quickly. The show definitely improved and/or my taste has declined dramatically. Perhaps both! Who cares?!
Teen Wolf shares some features with its cultural predecessors Buffy and TVD. The smallish town High School setting in which a core group of friends deal with their hormones and fantastical life-and-death situations and agree to sacrifice everything for friendship while unsuspecting mortals are oblivious all around them.
Our main foursome includes:
Scott McCall, our titular hero.
He was just an average guy until… he was bitten! He struggles to figure out what is happening, blahblah. He’s a little bland, as most heroes are, what with their True North moral compasses and earnest desires to do good. He can veer into the ditzy, especially at the start of the show, he was occasionally charming. He’s a little bit Keanau Reeves, and a lotta bit every other actor-playing-a-heartthrob-teen. Like I said, he grew on me. And I kind of enjoy his celebrity persona, as well. He seems to in love with life and a little bro-ish, in a band, skateboarding, getting tattoos, etc. You go, Tyler Posey, you go.
Stiles (one name only!), our hero’s sidekick, whose superpowers are sarcasm, paranoia, and solving crimes!!
As the series continues, and more and more supernat’s come out of the woodwork and join the inner circle, he is left as the lone normal. Thus, he has a bit of Xander in him, teeming with attitude and ready with the witty rejoinder. Stiles, however, is much better in my book because he lacks that sense of sublimated anger we all saw peak out of Xander from time to time. Like, I can’t be the only one who wondered whether Xander would go all MRA on us and shoot up a movie theater…? Stiles, who is seen as similarly being picked on by others, lacking skill on the lacrosse team, thwarted by his idolized love interest, etc., retains a deep core of hope and joy. Not innocence or blind goodness—and not the sort of bland vanilla projected by another analogous character, Matt from TVD—but Stiles has a tempered goodness that sees problems and seeks to solve them, despite the difficulties. As Lydia once comments to Stiles, that’s his role: he solves problems, he finds the answers. He is integral to the group. He’s clever and he sees connections, which enables him to understand their numerous enemies.
Allison Argent, the Juliet to Scott’s Romeo, and trainee into her family’s werewolf-killing-calling.
Clever use of the family name being Argent—because silver supposedly kills werewolves, and Argent means silver. Get it?!?! Nice job, writers! Allison is okay. She grew on me. Again, like Scott, she’s somehow a little less interesting, which often happens with a show’s main characters (as Swells as pointed out before). She’s got a sort of Kiera Knightley thing going on with her strong square jaw. It’s just a weird coincidence that they’ve both handled a bow, but even without the weaponry, they are still kind of twins! Allison also gets to cry a. lot. during the first few seasons and she does a nice faux tear. Personally, I like my crying to be sort of epic as has been demonstrated in my posts here here and everywhere but I try to accept that not everyone cries like the greats.
Yes! She comes into her own as an actual person and her latent power as a banshee is awakened at the start of the second season. She has the sort of Caroline-on-TVD arc where she comes on the stage as a superficial girl, love interest, and victim—but is super smart, independent, and seems to thrive during tough situations. And she is simply gorgeous. Lydia occasionally reminds me of a lusty barmaid and I think the show decided to go with that angle when they switched to all braids all the time for her. I also think of the word lusty when she screams (and she screams a lot). Though the banshee part of her persona could/should be better developed, it’s a clever way to develop Lydia’s character and help her transition from the cliché female victim in a horror movie, screaming but otherwise helpless. Instead, her scream becomes part of her unique power to warn of death. Along this line, there’s a moment midway through the show (perhaps in season 3) after she’s been strangled and she discusses using makeup to cover it up before heading to school. She ultimately decides that she it not ashamed to be a victim and forgoes any cosmetic-coverage. (But, she’s going to do her hair, of course, because that’s Lydia.)
Other great characters:
The primary friendship in this show is between Stiles and Scott, and it’s beautiful. It’s become integral to the narrative, both within the show and in the fandom. Lawd, I love the multiple open displays of affection! And the heartache when one is worried about the other! It’s so good! They share literally the longest hug ever, as seen below. It lasted approximately 12 seconds. Maybe. Idk, but it was great. I wanted that hug!! And I have complicated feelings toward hugs!
When thinking of comparisons to other SyFy/Fantasy shows… Stiles actually reminded me most of Kenzi, which places Scott in the Bo role, which doesn’t really fit, but I think the comparison works well enough to suggest their friendship and supportive roles. Perhaps Stiles and Scott are in some ways the male, juvenile, less sexy, less funny, versions of Bo and Kenz!?! I mean, those are big shoes to fill, so while the above sounds like they barely rank in the same sentence as BnK, that they share any similarities is a testament to their friendship.
Some other things I’ve liked about the show:
- Decent parents! Decent actors! Yes! We have parents who are still alive! Yes, hardly anyone has both parents alive (there must be loss in the kids’ lives, we get it), but the ones left are decent as parents and—bonus—decent as actors. Having just been reminded forcefully by Bri of the terrible parents on many ABC Family shows, like the Secret Life of the American Teenager, and, I’d add, the parents on ABC Fam’s Twisted, especially the dads, well this show is a major step up, in my opinion. In fact, they borrowed one from TVD (Tyler’s mom is Lydia’s mom!) I like the moms! Scott’s mom is rocking the whole single parent who works hard as a nurse, which is a skill/job that comes in handy throughout the show. You go girl! Stiles’ dad is the sheriff (shout out to the best sheriff ever, Carol on TVD!) and is eventually educated on all of the supernatural craziness and helps the kids, etc. I like this, too. He’s gruff and understanding and has an attractive, semi-grizzled visage.I think having some parents complicit in the chaos adds to the humor of shows like this. It’s so absurd, yet, makes more sense than all of them being kept in the dark, and all of the people in positions of power either evil or completely out of the loop.
- Props to the show for adding a kitsune story line!! I really liked this, and am glad that that particular legend played an important role. Let’s hear it for equality and diversity among shapeshifting lore!
- They also get a few points for having a few gay characters, albeit minor and supporting ones. And they don’t make a big deal out of it, either, which is nice. Because it’s normal! It’s always nice to add that to the juvenile landscape.
- I also love that they have a few borderline psychopaths as part of the group as the show continues. They bring back a Season 1 bad guy and his role in the middle seasons is just to be kind of a funny sociopathic and reluctant member of the group. Like, he might turn on them (well, not might because he actually does), but he gets to say hilarious things. Then, there’s the turned werewolf Isaac who has issues and thus is open about not giving a shit about most people. It reminds me of Buffy’s Spike in some ways, and TVD’s Klaus, etc. There are a few episodes where Isaac is my absolute favorite and plays well off of Stiles.
- I’m going to detract a few points for the ridiculous footwear the women wear. Jesus. Even TVD’s girls seemed to limit their sky-high heels when they might be running and fighting. They still wore heels, or heeled boots, but they weren’t as insane as some of the platform heels on display in this show, particularly in the first few seasons, though Lydia never really stopped; tbf, that’s kind of her character, though.
- I’d also add that I am glad there’s no always-self-sacrificing-debbie-downer like TVD’s Bonnie. There’s always a willingness to die among all of the supernats in shows like this because of the life-and-death daily situations, which is fine, but you know what I’m talking about. There’s no single character that is consistently sacrificing him or herself and being a debbie downer.
- I have to detract MAJOR points for the lack of appropriate grieving for characters. Again, I’ve declared that I am fully on Team Death, Grief, and Funeral. I don’t want to spoil this, but a major character dies and THEY DO NOT ADDRESS THIS FACT. WTF. WTF. WTF. ALL THE BEST EPISODES/ACTING/SEX COME FROM GRIEF.
Anyways, I’m all caught up with the show now so I will have to wait for the next half season to air in 2016. We’ll have to wait and see if I stick with it. I didn’t love the most recent storyline, but, dayum, seasons 2 and 3, and sort of 4, were great fun. No regrets. There you go! Get yo teen wolf on.
Shit, I forgot… you might care about the whole “werewolf” thing… It’s awkward. Just let it roll over your senses without overthinking it.