Saturday, August 24, 2013

Talking Teen Wolf: In Which I am Far too Genuine in my Adoration of This Show

Boys and girls something truly astonishing has happened! I have been accused of not loving Teen Wolf! I know what you’re thinking, “there’s no way any one could possibly love this show more than you do Undie”. But alas I have received some complaints about the critical nature of my analysis (mainly as a result of this blog). Instead of spending this week’s Talking Teen Wolf (the last one for at least a couple of months) defending myself I am just going to use this opportunity to talk about how much I genuinely do love this show!

WARNING: unapologetic adoration of problematic things under the cut.

Teen Wolf is the show that no one expects to love. Its sneaks up on you when you least it expect it. It’s not something I was actively looking for but it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

It seems that most people have a similar experience with Teen Wolf. At first they avoid it, I mean why would anyone want to watch a silly MTV show about teenage werewolves? You watch as everyone around you succumbs to this show like a highly infectious disease (or possible the zombie apocalypse… at least that’s what it felt like for me) until you can’t take it anymore. Then in a moment of weakness you decide to watch one episode, mostly just to prove everyone wrong.

Then you watch Teen Wolf and it’s somehow exactly what you expected and at the same time nothing like you expected. There is incredibly sappy dialogue, kids that are way to attractive to be real, hilariously blatant product placement and completely ridiculous prosthetics. Sometimes there is nothing you can do but laugh at the silliness yet underneath that there is something more, something indescribable. A spark of brilliance that missing from so many contemporary teen dramas (and television in general).

It sounds kind of lame but this show has heart. That’s not something I ever thought I would say considering my cynical nature but it’s the only way I can think to describe it. The best part is that Teen Wolf just got better as it went on. Throughout the first season and into the second Teen Wolf evolved from a silly little show with a lot of heart into one of the best supernatural dramas in recent years.

Teen Wolf is not without it’s problems – my head often falls into my hands as I cry ‘oh no’ when watching – but the thing is that most of the problems come out of an effort to try something different or be something more than just another supernatural teen drama carbon copy. That’s what I will always love about this show; it tries. Sure sometimes it fails – spectacularly – but the mistake are never irredeemable and I am constantly blown away by the sheer tenacity of this silly little MTV show about teenage werewolves.

Early on the fandom started referring Jeff Davis as a gift – kind of a play on “the bite is gift”. Personally I think that’s a bit of a double-edged sword because on the show the bite isn’t really a gift, in fact the only person who seems to think so is Derek and that says a lot. I guess it kind of works though because sometimes people are not so happy with Jeff’s choices – myself included. But like I said above even though Jeff sometimes gets it very wrong I always feel like he’s trying.

Jeff Davis is not deliberately problematic or arrogantly ignorant (unlike some other popular writers), he’s just a product of our society and he seems to try to fix things when he receives criticisms (see Lydia and Stiles). I genuinely believe in and appreciate the fact that he is trying to present a world that is free from racism and homophobia and sometimes he even succeeds – Danny is an out gay man that showers regularly with the straight male characters like it’s no big deal (take a moment to appreciate that please).

For me Jeff Davis is a gift because he seems to care about these characters as much as I do and despite what you might think that is not a prerequisite for a showrunner (cough Glee cough). He doesn’t get it right all the time (in fact he’s written some seriously questionable things) but he tries and that’s enough to keep me watching.

On top of all that the cast are phenomenal. Bless TPTB for taking a chance on an unknown kid called Dylan O’Brien because that was the find of the decade. Holland Roden (who is both beautiful and intelligent) took what could have been a horrible cliché and helped make her one of my all time favourite characters. I will always been impressed by the way Crystal Reed shifts from sweet girl next door to hard hunter. I still have trouble comprehending that Derek Hale and Tyler Hoechlin are the same person. And Tyler Posey exudes likability, which is invaluable in a leading man (seriously even when Scott is being super annoying in Season 1 it’s impossible not to love him). I could go on about this cast all day – in fact I often do on Twitter.    

This cast also does an amazing job of interacting with the fans even though we all know that sometimes fans are awful people (special love to Melissa Ponzio who is not only a fantastic actress but also seems like a lovely person that is always willing to have a bit of fun with the fans). And if you know me at all you will know that my love for the Teen Wolf social media team knows no bounds. I will probably still be writing odes to their awesome when I am on my deathbed.

There are just so many things to love about this show like the fact that it’s pretty much the physical manifestation of my thesis (which was about fangirls attempts to reverse the male gaze by identifying with the gay male gaze). Also the characters are just so intriguing – not to mention heartbreaking, I just love me some broken cuties. And this show is a shippers dream because everyone has chemistry with everyone and there is legitimate subtext for almost every pairing (personally I’m hoping for one giant polyamorous relationship).

I know some of you are wondering why I’m sometimes rather critical of this show if I love it so much. Well you kind of answered your own question. I’m critical of this show because I care. If I didn’t care, if I didn’t love this show, I wouldn’t bother. The reason I complain is because when Teen Wolf is good it’s amazing. It makes me laugh and cry and it’s entertaining as hell. So when it falls short I get a little disappointed because I believe it can do better – I’ve seen it do better.

Despite my complaints I love this show warts and all and over all I loved Season 3A. The parts I hated, I really fucking hated (cough Visionary cough). But like I said above Teen Wolf is constantly pushing the boundaries of the show people expect it to be and it continued to do that this season. Actually 3A had some of my favourite episodes of Teen Wolf ever - “Chaos Rising”, “Frayed” and “The Overlooked”. Even the episodes I didn’t love had great moments (yes even “Fireflies” and “Visionary”).

Look Teen Wolf isn’t perfect (what is?) but there is just something about this show that burrows under your skin and carves out a place in your heart. Before you know it you’re trying to understand the rules of lacrosse (I still don’t get it, I gather it’s like field hockey but the sticks have nets), crying over semi-functional single parent families and wondering why people keep going outside at night considering the number of mysterious deaths in that town.

Anyway just to put the nail into the coffin of this sap-fest I wanted to thank you guys for joining me on this journey through Teen Wolf Season 3A. It’s been great fun having so many awesome people to share this silly little MTV show about werewolves with. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one that succumbed to its charms. We’re all in this together as we scream: “this was just supposed to be a trashy show about werewolves”.

As I said at the beginning this will be the last Talking Teen Wolf for a while (it will probably be back mid December when preparations for 3B are in full swing). I’ll still be blogging, so feel free to stop by, I’m just taking a break from Teen Wolf so I’m fully recharged and refreshed when the new episodes begin. But because I am a lovely person I’m going to post a guide to surviving the hiatus later this week in the hopes that all of you will make it through the break and be back with me in January.

Till then, keep howling Teen Wolf fans.