Hannah Scribbles

Oops! Finding Unexpected Enjoyment in MTV’s Teen Wolf

In Movies/TV, Pop Culture! on March 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm

When asthmatic 16-year-old Scott McCall is persuaded by his ADHD-afflicted best friend Stiles to go looking for a body, he gets more adventure than he expected. After Stiles is rounded up by the search party, Scott finds himself lost in the woods at the mercy of a werewolf. The rest is history.

Scott must balance grades against his tenuous relationship with his new mentor, acerbic werewolf Derek Hale, prevent his new girlfriend from finding out his secret and avoid being killed by her werewolf hunter relatives. Did I mention he also plays lacrosse? High School got a lot busier since I graduated.

MTV’s Teen Wolf has all the elements you’d expect from an MTV show: fashion, social progressiveness and music. It has the dubious distinction of being the only show I’ve seen that tells viewers what song is playing in the background. Special effects are often cheesy, but luckily it’s the story and characters that catch your attention.

Told in 13 episode story arcs, the writing leaves little room for empty episodes. In an era when many TV shows meander through a quarter of their 23 episode season without affecting plot, each episode of Teen Wolf is packed with action, character development and great dialogue.

stiles sarcasm, stiles quotes, stiles stilinski

Stiles Stilinski, providing comic relief and witty dialogue.

Each season leads decisively into the next. The outcome of the season 1 finale, which culminates in an attack against the werewolf that bit Scott, sets up the plot for the second season. The same can be said for subsequent seasons, which stem from precious happenings and not merely the whims of script writers. In a town where anything can happen, it’s refreshing to see that nothing just happens.

While each episode pushes the overall story forward, it would be unfair to say Teen Wolf is plot-centric. Compelling interpersonal relationships drive the show, adding richness to the world building. From Lydia, who downplays her intelligence for social acceptance, to the successful yet insecure Jackson, each character has a subtle detailing that fleshes out their personality.

Allison Argent, descended from a line of hunters, became my favorite character in a matter of episodes. Introduced as the New Girl Love Interest for lead Scott McCall, she spent her early days on the show in increasing suspicion of the strange happenings around Beacon Hills and being protected from harm. The writers could have kept it that way, too, but the show doesn’t revolve around Allison’s romantic relationship to Scott McCall.

allison argent, teen wolf allison, bad ass allison argent,

Instead, learning about the supernatural opens up Allison’s character. Actress Crystal Reed does a wonderful job balancing Allison’s teenager uncertainty with her mental and emotional maturation. At first fearful, Allison soon begins training to become a hunter like her father and aunt and becomes an excellent archer. Although not endowed with supernatural abilities like her friends – the werewolf pack is almost entirely male – they respect her fighting skills. She fights to protect her friends and family from harm, challenging her father to be more tolerant toward supernatural creatures. Though she takes on more prominent leadership roles as a hunter, Reed never lets the viewer forget that Allison is also a teenage girl.

In another happy surprise, Teen Wolf separates itself from other teen supernatural dramas (I’m looking at you, The Vampire Diaries) by making prominent use of adults. That’s right. Adults with speaking roles who give life advice and aren’t just used as plot devices.

stiles and sheriff stilinski,

The teenagers on Teen Wolf don’t exist in a space-time vortex with absent parental figures. Despite their otherworldly responsibilities, they still come home and kiss their parents goodnight. Scott McCall brings his mother dinner at work when she works late. Stiles stays up helping his father on casework. Allison Argent has a curfew.

Amid the ridiculousness of modern television, it irks me when people laugh off supernatural dramas as somehow being more ludicrous than Duck Dynasty or 20 seasons of Law & Order. Behind the impossible premise, Teen Wolf  remains a solid show about family, friendship and tough decisions.

Let me sum up the reasons I enjoy the show:

  • References to Classical Greek mythology
  • Teenagers who actually have parents!
  • Openly gay character on the lacrosse team
  • No out-of-left-field plot twists!
  • Strong female characters with emotional range
  • Characters living with ADHD or PTSD

  1. I completely agree. Teen Wolf quickly became one of my favorite shows currently on TV. I was skeptical at first, because it’s on MTV, but I was pleasantly surprised.

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