I have been meaning to write this post about Teen Wolf for some time now, but I have been postponing it because of stage fright or something like it. Whenever I love something as much as I love Teen Wolf at the moment I’m always afraid that I will end up doing it an injustice with my writing. This worry is currently exacerbated by the sudden traffic my blog is getting for reasons I don’t even know. But I’m sucking it up and writing it, finally.
I started watching Teen Wolf at the end of 2012, I think, mostly because I was bored and wanted something to keep me occupied. My sister had already watched it, and I had seen gifs here and there while browsing tumblr. Initially I just thought it was light entertainment. I loved Stiles pretty much from the beginning, and found the other characters and the plot interesting enough to watch casually while doing other things on the side. The idea that I watched this show casually while cleaning my room at one point in time is pretty hilarious to me now. I powered through the first season fairly quickly but got stuck for a while in season 2. At present moment I don’t remember why, I just know that when I talked about it with someone at the premiere of The Hobbit I had yet to finish the season and it had been a while since I had last watched. Most likely the delay happened because I had been spoiled on the main plot points of the season already, which has a tendency to make me prioritize differently which show to watch. The important part is that I finished it long before season 3 started and it made me go from liking to loving this show.
Reviewing and rehashing the plot of this entire show is not something I will be doing in this post. Instead I will just go over a couple of things I think the show is doing very well, and what makes me think it’s a shame more people aren’t talking about it outside of the tumblr community.
Starting with the obvious, let’s talk about Dylan O’Brien and Stiles. Everyone loves Stiles (not to be confused with the meme ‘everyone loves Danny’, which as far as I know is an actual thing in fandom) is a phrase my sister and a few of my friends use frequently about Stiles Stilinski. He’s the comedic sidekick who has recently turned into one of the most interesting and complex characters on the show. He is one of the few humans left on the show. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I think he’s one of the more relatable characters on the show, and his wit and snarkiness helps balance out all the drama and action that happens on a weekly basis in Beacon Hills. However, putting all that aside, I think a lot of the love for Stiles stems from Dylan O’Brien and his talent. He brings Stiles to life so well, and I personally think his acting skills are what has given the character so many layers and made people love him so much. The writing they do for his character has definitely helped a lot, but considering his only acting background was a couple of YouTube videos, they made the right choice by sticking with someone so unknown. This season especially has been such a showcase for the subtleties in Dylan’s acting and a showcase for his talent, and I honestly think he can go just about anywhere he wants when he finishes on this show. I won’t gush (but I easily could), but definitely check him out even if supernatural shows about Teen werewolves are not your thing.
A second thing I find really interesting about this show is how much it values friendship and family over romantic relationships. I love a good love story, but given the choice I would rather see strong friendship and well written parent-child relationships. In the first season my biggest problem with the show was the romantic relationship between Scott and Allison, and while it doesn’t bother me as much anymore, it’s not an element of the show I miss much now that its focus has changed. My favourite character dynamics are the Melissa McCall’s relationship with both Scott and Stiles, Sheriff Stilinski and Stiles, Chris Argent and Allison, and Scott and Stiles. More recently I have also become really interested in the interaction we see between Derek and Chris, which I would have considered very unlikely at the start of the series.
A third thing I’ve always found interesting about Teen Wolf is how it’s set in a world free of racism, homophobia and class divides. I haven’t done extensive research into this, but as far as I know this was an intentional decision by Jeff Davies, and an attempt to normalize equality rather than address it head on as an issue, which is what has been the common practice in pop culture for a while now. I don’t think either of these approaches is more right or wrong, but I enjoy the casual way in which sexual orientation is dealt with in this show. There have been same-sex couples, and are currently gay characters on the show, but they’re defined as more than that. I think what I personally appreciate most about it is that they don’t make use of the stereotypical ‘no homo’ jokes when showing male intimacy. There have been multiple instances of ‘gay jokes’ and play with gender roles, but if my memory serves me right it is never met with defensiveness in the way that you normally see on television.
All of that being said, there are definitely some valid complaints circulating the fandom at the moment. I have not been able to keep up with the online discussions as much as I wold have liked this year, so I don’t feel like I am the right person to address this, and will therefore keep it brief. What I know is that there has been a tendency in the show to turn female characters into villains and/or killing them off the show. Off the top of my head I can think of 5 major female characters they have killed so far, and only 1 major male character (that remained dead, at least). That is not a great statistic. I think that in a couple of instances this was due to circumstance because the actresses in question wished to leave the show, or had other projects they wanted to pursue, and the best way to deal with the character departing was to kill them off. However, as a general rule the show’s writers should work on a better gender balance. On a more personal note, I also think the show tends to rely too much on one or several villains, and could do with slowing down the pace and have more character moments. I am a bit of a hypocrite writing this, because in this half of the third season I have really enjoyed the thriller aspect of the show, but I think that stems from the psychological nature of the drama. I don’t know if there ever will be a slow season of this show, but it could be interesting to see how the characters would do without life or death situations every episode. My guess is they would be bored out of their minds.
To sum up, I think Teen Wolf is a show that has a lot of potential and that has already grown up from a silly show about werewolves to a legitimately good supernatural drama. I think that its slightly silly name (my sister keeps saying they should change it to Adult Wolf, which…true, but awful name) has worked against it, but that word of mouth and the increasing press coverage it is getting at the moment is doing a lot to get it recognized. I don’t think it’s perfect, and I think there are things they could – and should – improve, but it is definitely one of the shows I look forward to the most, and it has some of my favourite characters on television right now. I definitely recommend that everyone at least check it out.