"Teen Wolf is the voice of our generation."
That’s usually where I lose people. If not, just saying the name is ridiculous: The way it rolls off of the tongue is sickly-sweet. It’s not even alliterative in the way that good shows nowadays are supposed to be. Teen Wolf. It’s like MTV is parodying itself.
At first, the show (a remake of the 1985 film of the same name starring Michael J. Fox) seems tired. Teen Wolf starts out by perpetuating stereotypes. The protagonist Scott is athletic and normal, but everything goes wrong when he gets himself chomped up by a werewolf. His best friend Stiles is a goof who doesn’t have too much luck with girls. They get into some shenanigans, of course. It’s too bad that Scott’s — aw shucks! — just a high school kid who likes the cute new girl, Allison Argent. That’s right, her last name’s Argent, which means “silver” in French. That’s the best MTV can do? Throw in some names that have the laziest amount of metaphorical weight to them and call it a day on the critical thinking?
But as the story progresses, it turns out that Allison is not just a star-crossed lover. She gets her own mythologically-based, kick-ass storyline. She likes to play with guns while wearing floral prints, too. And Scott is played by half-Mexican actor Tyler Posey, which means that Teen Wolf is one of the few shows on television whose lead is a person of color. Like, give me your Olivia Popes, your Mindy Kalings, your huddled actors yearning to breathe free! How are you not into this?
And none of this even mentions Lydia, the popular girl who just seems like she’s in the show to throw around her mane of red hair and pout at the camera. But Lydia is multifaceted. Her dog is named Prada. She knows classical and archaic Latin. She cares fiercely about her friends. And she’ll immediately correct you when you tell her that she’ll win the Nobel for mathematics (which doesn’t exist — it’s the Field’s Medal for math, dumbass!).
Meanwhile, Stiles crushes on girls, but he doesn’t care one bit if he gets hit on by boys. In fact, he likes it, which has led fans to speculate about his sexuality. Teen Wolf is full of your typical high school banter. But where most boys on television would cringe, Stiles doesn’t care at all. When Stiles complains about wanting to lose his virginity, his friend Danny (who happens to be gay), jokingly tells Stiles to come over in the evening. Stiles is touched, without a hint of irony. The joke isn’t that Stiles is grossed out, because that isn’t true. The joke is that Stiles is willing to believe anything.
In the same way, Teen Wolf has a healthy and refreshing attitude towards sex. When characters have sex, they’re safe and care about the person that they’re with. Nobody is seen as a worse person for it. Shows that portray the consequences of having unsafe sex or have characters who shame others for it are already in abundance. Scott has a box of condoms out in his room. It’s not a big deal, it’s normal.
Characters aside, the storylines are excellent, suspenseful and full of wit. Mythology and fantasy play a heavy hand in Teen Wolf, which means that you can theorize to your heart’s content like the stay-up-all-night-to-finish-the-sixth-Harry-Potter-book kid you once were. And the show has gotten progressively creepier. Sometimes, when a snake starts coming out of someone’s mouth or a finger gets hacked off in a torture scene, it’s just straight-up American Horror Story: Teen Wolf.