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Why You Should Be Watching MTV’s TEEN WOLF

What shocked audiences more than anything regarding Lord & Miller’s 21 Jump Street and its recently released sequel 22 Jump Street wasn’t that they were good, it’s that they managed to be original despite being very calculated franchise adaptations from a major Hollywood studio. Both films had everything going against them, and by utilizing everyone’s displeasure of the idea, the directing duo flipped expectation on its head and turned out two of the best comedies in the last two years. Now, you’re probably asking yourself what 22 Jump Street has to do with MTV’s Teen Wolf, which premieres an all new season later tonight. The reason we’re reminding you of the excellence that is the Jump Street film franchise is because it went through exactly the same issues Teen Wolf continues to go through today, even on the date of its fourth season premiere.

In 2011, the last thing anyone was interested in was a gritty-reboot of a Michael J. Fox, ’80s horror-comedy, and they were even less interested in that idea being executed by MTV, a network with next to no modern-day scripted drama experience up to that point. Like so much of Hollywood, viewers immediately expected the drama to be a cash-grab that would barely make it to the end of season one before being cancelled. But, it’s this expectation, or lack thereof, that allowed Criminal Minds creator Jeff Davis to fly the supernatural series under the radar and deliver what, today, is not only the best thing on MTV’s programming slate, but one of the best series on television.

Warning! Spoilers for Teen Wolf Seasons 1-3 follow.

From the word go, what Davis’ Teen Wolf does is subvert expectation. From the truly astounding performances of its cast (Dylan O’Brien and J.R. Bourne in particular) to its off-beat, Buffy-esque – stay with us – style and tone, Teen Wolf has always been hungry to prove its uniqueness. The reason we’re telling you this is because even up to just last season, the series has been non-stop drama since its premiere and, above all else, has been a series willing to take risks. Here’s a recent example:

During the second half of last season, we watched as the team dealt with the issue of a nogitsune (a Japanese trickster spirit) that had been released onto the town of Beacon Hills and was possessing the mind of one Stiles Stilinski (O’Brien). Through the course of the episode run, the series plays an amazing guessing game trying to figure out who the nogitsune has possessed, and when it’s finally revealed to be Stiles, O’Brien puts on one of the best performances of the year as a psychopathic, murdering teenager. The writing was unsettling, the performances were unnerving (especially this little bit in the finale), and the final result that saw one of the show’s four major leads get brutally killed in a katana vs crossbow fight was shocking. (Oh, let’s not forget that part of the season where spirit samurais sliced and diced their way through a hospital at the command of void Stiles, that too.)

Ready to watch yet? No? Okay, let’s keep going.

This series is the closest thing we’ve gotten to Buffy since the famed Whedon show ended in 2003. We already mentioned the tone, but what the series also does, much like the vampire drama, is build dynamic, three dimensional characters in a world that’s normally devoid of them. It would be so easy to simply create a show built on the back of a premise – which Hollywood tries to do all the time – but, creating a lifeless series wasn’t in the cards for Jeff Davis. Instead, the first goal of the showrunner was to prove his characters had soul, and to prove they could carry the series when the premise itself wasn’t going to be enough. That is what makes us want to preach the gospel of Teen Wolf to you lovely readers. Through witty dialogue, a sense of purpose and willingness to admit their faults, these characters prove they are people you want to spend time with, and what is great television if not that?

MTV’s Teen Wolf had no reason to be great; hell, it barely had reason to be passable. But, because of that lack of requirement to be great, it chose to be that and more, simply to prove that it could. At times, it even feels like the series plays a catchy top 20 pop song and shows off the shirtless abs of a gay werewolf (we’d love dive into the fantastic equality work this series does as well, but we don’t have three days to spare) just to say those elements can be used the right way, and in the only way that matters: to benefit the story. Teen Wolf is a series about story and character first, premise second, and that’s why you need to be watching it.

Teen Wolf premieres tonight at 10/9c on MTV.

Got a favorite character moment? What are you most looking forward to in Season 4? Let us know in the comments below.

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38 comments

  • I love the show and I love the actors. I love them so much that I can’t chose witch one I love the most. The show is not just a couple of good looking guys it about way more then that. Thank you for this article, now I think I can get my friend to watch the show now

  • I love the show. It has awesome actors. Especially O’Brien, He killed it as the Nokitsune. And the show has new exciting twists. So, you all who say it’s bad or whatever, probably don’t even watch the show. Personally, I like it better than Buffy.

  • Thank you for this article, Teen Wolf definitely deserves the recognition. I love how the show has grown each season, right along with its characters. The second half of season 3 was its best set of 12 by far and it sounds like season 4 is going to be even better. 

  • Some people just can’t seem to give the show credit where it’s deserved. Also, people are going to like the show and their minds are not going to be swayed by your complaining about every little detail. So what? You don’t like it. You don’t have to cut it down and criticize the show at every oppurtunityyou think you get! Just leave it be and move on with your lives, I’m sure nobody is forcing you to watch the show.

  • One of my top favourite scenes out of the entire series has to be when Stiles and Scott had an emotional heart-to-heart as Stiles was about to get an MRI.

  • While the show definitely does have its moments (only thanks to the actors btw), it has some seriously problematic instances and storylines that just don’t hold up when you look at them closely.A lot of the questions posed never get answered, characters appear and disappear out of nowhere, the show makes itself seems so “open and accepting” when the way they handle queer representation is seriously flawed.Let’s not even go into the gaping plotholes you could drive a freaking truck through.It is definitely no Buffy. In no way whatsoever.

  • Dylan O’Brien and Tyler Posey together as Scott and Stiles is what I live for. There’s no better partnership on TV. They both killed it last season. I can’t wait for season 4! From what I hear, it could be the best yet! I’m also REALLY looking forward to the addition of Malia and seeing her around a lot more this season! I think she’s gonna be REALLY FUN! Just a few more hours now!

  • I always thought Dylan was a great actor, often compared to a young Jim Carrey when he’s acting goofy, but….in Season 3b, I would have to give O’Brien MAJOR PROPS for his acting!  The way he went from one end of the performance spectrum to the complete opposite was absolutely AMAZING! All of the Teen Wolf cast members are great actors, but…if I’m being honest and have to pick a favorite….it is definitely Stile Stilinski! I applaud you Dylan!!!  One heck of a performance!

    • I was particularly impressed with O’Brien this last season.  His ability to switch from the goofy stand up best friend to a cold hearted killer was in the words of Darth Vader, “impressive.”

  • Yes, YES YES! So much yes! I usually go around saying I mostly watch for the abs, but it has SO much going for it other than that. I never thought I’d be watching a “teen” show and let alone on MTV!

  • You say Teen Wolf and only really kept going on about Stiles. You should have only warned for spoilers in 3b, since you glossed over the superior first 2 seasons anyway.

  • “we’d love dive into the fantastic equality work this series does as well, but we don’t have three days to spare” That’s okay because it would only take about five minutes.  You have one openly gay side character with about 2 lines every other episode, one lesbian side character turned bisexual who was in a grand total of 2 episodes, the second of which seemed to be entirely about queerbaiting by implying that Stiles COULD be bi, and a gay werewolf who only started a relationship because he was told to and who is no longer on the show and therefore doesn’t count for crap.  On top of that you have numerous accounts of queerbaiting where a character’s orientation is implied or inferred but never confirmed and/or Jeff Davis flat out refuses to comment because he just doesn’t want to.  You also have multiple female characters who sole purpose seems to be getting into Stiles’ pants without any sort of personal growth or character development. 

      • Who mentioned Sterek?  I’m pretty sure I was referring to Danny, Caitlin, and Ethan.  There’s also the implications about Kali and Jennifer’s relationship prior to their being introduced that Jeff flat out stated he wasn’t going to clear up because he LIKED leaving it ambiguous.  

        • You missed one:  When Allison, Stiles, and Scott were about to be “frozen” in the ice water, Scott told the Doc that both he and Lydia had slept with Allison.
          If you’re looking for good four dimensional gay characters in literature, I suggest you check out my stuff on Amazon.com.  But I warn you- they are the politically correct gay characters. They’re REAL people in a world where one of the things that make them super is that they’re gay/bi.

  • I stopped after season 2. Nary an obscene word spoken which is great but then having all these high school kids screwing every second they get makes me sick. Great role models for young people. Yeah.

  • I tried watching some of this, but the dialogue was terrible, and no amount of intrigue or twisty plot can save it from that.  This show makes the very-average Vampire Diaries look spectacular by comparison.  I can buy that it’s the best thing on MTV, but that’s because everything on MTV is trash.  I can’t imagine this show would survive on a strong network like AMC, FX, or even the CW.

    • season one starts out really rough and i watched it initially to make fun of it, but ended up getting sucked in about 5 episodes in, got officially hooked 9 eps in, and the show matures and develops as it goes on. i really recommend giving it a go.

  • I’m sorry but no….just no. I’ve been watching this show for a while and it certainly has good moments but it is in no way good or great as you say. I’m not talking about the fact that they continue to kill all the female characters while the male villain is resurrected without any explanation whatsoever or the fact that the main character is actually a sidekick (I love you Scott but you actually get very little screen time). No I’m talking about the lack of character development (I don’t know where you see it because it’s not there) – Isaac and his whole storyline of being a victim of his father’s abuse but then being able to joke about it? I’m also talking about the cheap lines and the overall poor writing. I liked the the whole nogitsune storyline but the way it was written….I just don’t see it as good. I mean yeah it’s good considering that it’s MTV but comparing to all the other amazing TV shows we get these days it doesn’t stand a chance. I still like it. It’s cheesy and I love the characters (still sad about Crystal and Daniel’s departure) but I just think it has so much more potential and then doesn’t live up to it (especially since they have 24 episodes for season which should be more than enough for proper character development but no).  I’m mostly sad because it could be good it really could but it’s not. Anyway that’s my opinion.

    • Yeah, I absolutely agree. There is NO valuable character development here whatsoever – Isaac even seems to go from having a character to regressing into NOT having one. Also, the show has its moments but it is definitely NO Buffy. If we look at the way it treats its female characters alone …

    • I agree.  You even had the actors themselves imply the reason they have left is because action is being is being held as more important then character development. The show has plot holes and inconsistencies and it’s really only the acting of the cast the holds it up. 

    • This show has every bitof character development. You must beblind. And it’s a great show with a great plot and somany twists. And about the whole “they always killthe female characters” thing, one of the twins doesthis season. TheykilledoffJackson and Kssac, but both of them haveevety possibilityto come back.Also, theybrought back Athenssister and she’sgoing to bethis seasons antagonist. 

    • you clearly don’t know much about character development if you believe this show has none. if you don’t like it’s nonexistent development then don’t watch it. you can’t trash it but say you still watch it. doesn’t make sense. and well spoken Annalise, I am in full agreement.