Teen Wolf has ruined my life. Now, I admit I’m usually one for hyperbole, but I think I’m serious this time. Just thinking about writing this article produces a swell in my chest and a pressure in my lungs that really really makes me want to find some sort of mountain cliff somewhere and just yell at the top of my lungs how much I love this show.
Let me explain.
If a mad scientist wanted to set out to create the best and most perfect chunk of supernatural media in the post-Buffy era he would start with a lot of camp, some pretty hot twenty-something actors, and a decent horror cliché to humor ratio. But then he would begin to tinker. And he—or maybe she—would add some biting, subversive wit, lots of glorification of the male body, and some pretty stunning cinematic composition. After that, genuine, likable characters, very strong acting chops, treatment of homosexuality as a non-issue, and non-conventional mythology (ain’t no vampires here, guys, just kanimas). Sprinkle it all with dubstep, deep V-necks, lots of gay subtext, some nonsense, and well, you’ve got it.
Don’t worry, I resisted this perfect potion of genre cocktail too until this summer, when I took to my bed and my Netflix streaming to catch up before season three began. Now, season one was simple, fun, and cheesy, with some real heart. There were lacrosse games and a cartoon Alpha wolf with glowing red eyes. Oh, and and a Romeo and Juliet love story to boot. I’m not ashamed to admit I got a little anxious at times; I may or may not have scared my cats with a little jolt as those damn kids wandered around a very dark and very abandoned school late at night. Fools.
But then things started to get serious. Alliances shifted, characters teamed up, there were some brutal murders. Season two was the season where people started to catch on. I remember because I returned from vacation and my entire Tumblr was filled with some summer television show on MTV called Teen Wolf? Psh, please. (note: I was dumb).
This summer season 3A premiered, and devastatingly just wrapped up Monday night. The good news is that another dozen episodes are coming in January for a supersized season 3, called 3B! Man, this show is at its peak. At the end of the third summer of Teen Wolf, it’s become clear that we’re in for something big. The little campy show that could has suddenly become a very important branch in the current golden age of television, which I’ve just now decided is represented by a very large and sturdy tree. I’m not kidding, read on.
When the finale opened with a quite stunning sequence in which Scott, Allison and Stiles were taken back—through sacrificial suicidal death—to the opening moments of the pilot and realized that their origin stories were connected to their mission in the present, I was pretty breathless okay? It was very artful and also emotionally resonant.
Here we were, three seasons in, and Scott, who has grown into a True Alpha simply from the heroic and moral compass of his character, was looking back upon the kid with the moppy hair who lost his inhaler in the woods. Stiles, burdened now with the weight of so much knowledge and sight, faced his sarcastic, non-serious past self. And Allison. Oh, Allison, warrior huntress and steely hearted woman, faced an unassuming girl who still had her family and her idealism.
And though Scott is the only one who has physically transformed into his True Alpha self, I think it’s important to note all of our main characters’ transformations by the end of this season. Is Stiles not a true hero after denying it in season two? His actions have proven so. Allison has become a true warrior and Lydia a true survivor; her insistence to not cover up her wounds after so much trauma is a testament to that fact. Isaac has become a true fighter, and not just within the group, but in overcoming his own demons.
It was Monday night when I realized this show is telling an epic tale of mythological creatures and the group of teenage heroes caught in the crosshairs. I’ve always praised the complete amorality of The Vampire Diaries, and the fact that almost every main character on Teen Wolf will do anything in their power to save anyone is usually not my style. Buffy was black and white for a very specific philosophical reason, but otherwise I’m a big fan of grey. Huge. But one of the many unique aspects of Teen Wolf is while the heroism of our main characters stays constant, missteps and manipulations can happen and often they’re caught between two complicated, often relatable, yet ultimately diabolical villains and are forced to wade through the muddy waters of choosing which is the lesser of two evils. Even though that makes things confusing, I dig that. It makes things messy without really compromising the integrity of the McCall pack. And you know what? None of them are self-righteous, either! That’s seriously how awesome they all are. Heroes are usually annoying a lot of the time and boring the rest of it to be honest. Not these guys. They’re valiant and I would probably marry every single one of them.
Okay so yes, there are plot holes galore because things get very complicated and usually Allison’s first instinct is to kill something, ask questions later, and Derek typically messes something up again and details get lost. So what? I mean, the fact that three seasons of villains were born out of the elements of fire, water and earth and Stiles saved Scott’s life by calling him his brother pretty much means I don’t care how Jennifer got everyone’s phone number on the first day of class or how Stiles magically wiggled his way into a collapsing cellar that no one else who was trapped in there could get out of. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and claim that stuff makes this show better. Yes, better.
The thing about Teen Wolf is that villains tend to yell very silly things in very over dramatic ways and when a character says “Be Careful”, and another says, “Okay,” it’s usually hot and you automatically want them to make out. What I’m saying is that while this show will rip your heart out and stomp on it and probably eat it, it’s also really really fun to play around with. Plot Holes included. I mean, my best friend and I have established “Derek Haling” as a thing; it means generally failing at life and all skills and being miserable at everything. Then we laugh about it. Poor Derek.
But then, this damn show puts the parents in danger!! And all single parents at that! I mean, parents that are actually in-the-know and involved in the lives of their children and the general plots of the show, parents these kids wouldn’t survive without, parents we love ourselves. Typically, the genre dictates that parents exist to be absentee, in the background, or be viciously, viciously murdered. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a show integrate such heroic parents to complement their heroic kids, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a show revolve the entire end of a season around the kids willingly committing suicide in tubs of ice baths in order to save their parents. Genius. I mean that in all seriousness. It was strikingly original, absolutely heartbreaking and completely terrifying.
(p.s. they’re all fine now yay!).
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s really hard to keep quiet about a show when you legitimately love every single character in it and care about them with a fierce protectiveness, when you love every single relationship, every single dubstep fight scene, every gay scene, every straight scene, every subversive genre trick, every plot hole, every instance of heartbreak and pain and despair. You just love every moment.
I think that explains why I hung my signed comic-con poster above my desk at work. Co-workers literally bid me adieu on Monday evenings by saying “enjoy Teen Wolf tonight!” That’s nice of them to be honest.
Teen Wolf is basically crack for a generation of TV junkies who thrive on a combination of subversive, meaty, sensory, pulpy genre sensationalism, self-referential awareness, stylized production value, some cheese, and a whole lot of genuine earnestness and heart.
Tell me the fact that each season has ended with Scott and Stiles happy and together doesn’t break your heart into a million bittersweet pieces and I will seriously bake you cookies and then eat them all in front of you because you’re soulless and the .gif below is my reaction to you.
To conclude, Teen Wolf is my magical unicorn show made of puppies and rainbows (even though it sometimes kills them) and if you’re not watching it we probably can’t be friends anymore since it’s true love and all that.
So remember: Seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream on Netflix and season 3A is on MTV.com. Watch. Then put “Kids” by Mikky Ekko on repeat until January 6th and wait for an invite to my viewing party. It’s 138 days away. I might start a support group. Please join me, you won’t be sorry. Having your life ruined by Teen Wolf is one of the greatest things, trust me.