Screentime: Teen Wolf, AKA In Defense Of a Show Whose Name Makes Everyone Laugh

This week while working on job applications and being bored in New Jersey I started re-watching the first 2 seasons of Teen Wolf. And yes, I know what you’re thinking because I once thought it too.

When I first heard the news about the MTV scripted series, I laughed. Images of Michael J. Fox with furry arms playing basketball went through my head, mixed with disdain for the formerly-music and now mainly reality-filled network. But then last year a friend of mine convinced me to give the show a try.

I watched the first two seasons in two days.

Don’t let the terrible name fool you: Teen Wolf is anything but the campy 80s comedy that it alludes to. Something that became abundantly clear to me as I sobbed into my pillow watching a teen girl hallucinate her deceased militaristic mother screaming at her while she tried to calm down enough to stitch up her wounded and dying ex-boyfriend.

Plot Summary: Teen Wolf is, of course, about a teenage werewolf. Scott McCall, played with adorable sincerity by Tyler Posey (the little kid from Maid in Manhattan), is bitten by a wolf only to find his whole world turned upside down. He’s thrown into a world of werewolves, hunters, supernatural menaces, and, to put it bluntly, war. 

The show isn’t perfect. Like any mythology-heavy series, it suffers from plot holes and, at times, melodrama. But dang is it entertaining. 

It’s funny. Quick-witted and snarky, especially in Scott’s best friend “Stiles” Stilinski (Dylan O’Brien, who was plucked from youtube for his first role that’s catapulted him to stardom. He’s set to star in the upcoming Maze Runner movie). 

It’s smart. Yes, it’s full of semi-cheesy supernatural drama, but there are deeper meanings at play, and through lines from season 1 appear in the current episodes of season 3. 

It’s meaningful. The friendship between Scott and Stiles goes into the popculture history books as one of the greatest television bromances. The relationships on the show run deep, with family ties (both born and made) taking center stage.

It’s realistic. Okay, not the werewolf part. But in the way that teenagers live, interact, and feel. How life can be overwhelming, the strain that some teens put on themselves, the pressures and the intense emotions. These teens, despite being unnaturally gorgeous, feel real and relatable. 

It’s progressive. This is one of the best things about the show. The main character is what the Internet likes to refer to as a PoC (Person of Color), meaning he’s not white. Posey is of Mexican descent, and while it has not been explicitly stated that Scott is, it has been alluded to. The show is LGBT positive, with beloved character Danny having background relationships for the first two seasons and finally having a fore-fronted boyfriend in season 3, not to mention the multiple bisexual or unlabeled characters. And, of course, there are the women. Some of the most badass and complex female characters on TV, who’ve been put through the wringer and have come out as strong and capable (Crystal Reed’s warrior Allison and Holland Roden’s genius pretty girl Lydia). Sure, the show isn’t perfect, and it loves to kill of minorities (while merely emotionally torturing the white guys, especially Tyler Hoechlin’s Derek Hale and Daniel Sharman’s Isaac Lahey), but it is still refreshing to see a fuller spectrum of people onscreen.

Yes, Teen Wolf is on MTV, sandwiched between Catfish and Teen Mom. Yes, it’s based (loosely) on a camptastic 80s movie. Yes, the cast all look like models (did I mention that the men are CONSTANTLY shirtless?). But don’t let those surface issues stop you from giving it a shot, especially if you enjoy supernatural or mythology-heavy shows. 

And if you do give it a try, I DARE you not to fall immediately in love with Stiles. I dare you. 

Seasons 1 and 2 are currently on Netflix, and the second half of season 3 is set to air this January. 

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