Once upon a time there was a pitch meeting at MTV with a man named Jeff Davis.
He pitched an adaptation of the classic 80s comedy Teen Wolf.
“Huh. So it’s about a basketball player who finds out he’s part of a family of werewolves?”
No! It’s about a lacrosse player who gets bitten by a werewolf in the woods while searching for half a dead body!
“Wait what? Why lacrosse?”
“That’s not really an answer.”
“What’s with all of the slo-mo?”
Listen to me. Do not question the slo-mo. Embrace the slo-mo. Love the slo-mo.
“Alright fine. Whatever. So the main guy and his dad are werewolves–“
No! His dad is a mostly absent FBI agent!
“I’m confused. This doesn’t sound like a comedy.”
That’s because it isn’t. Teen Wolf the show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer by way of MTV! This Teen Wolf fights monsters that threaten his home town.
“I don’t think you know what an adaptation is.”
And it turns out I don’t care! Listen, I have no fantasies of thinking Teen Wolf is a great show. It’s hardly a good show. But then there are moments, a few each season, when Teen Wolf becomes the greatest thing you’ve ever seen. My comment about it being Buffy isn’t quite accurate. Buffy was a very well written show with a lot of charisma that, for the most part, was directed very blandly. They mostly just pointed the camera in the right direction. Teen Wolf is an exceptionally well directed show with rousing music, its own great charisma, and for the most part sub-par writing.
Let’s break it down! Have a trailer:
Tyler Posey as Scott McCall, the titular Teen Wolf.
Dylan O’Brien as Stiles, the comic relief character who grows into a co-lead. This is thanks in no small part to Dylan’s place as the breakout star of the show.
You may recognize Dylan as the lead in the Maze Runner movies.
By the way, nothing speaks to the transformative power of being an MTV star than this guy. At the start of the series he’s a short haired goofball. Now he’s a smoldering hunk.
Crystal Reed as Allison Argent, Scott’s girlfriend who’s family is made up entirely of Werewolf hunters. DRAMA!
Holland Roden as Lydia, who gets the most and best character development across the entire series.
Tyler Hoechlin as Derek Hale, Scott’s mentor werewolf who is basically allergic to happiness.
You may also recognize Tyler as Superman on Supergirl.
Colton Haynes as Jackson, who is the worst right up until he moves to Star City after season two.
That last one’s from Arrow.
For the first two and a half seasons the show follows a fairly straightforward story curve. More werewolves and worse werewolves. The first season is about Scott learning to control his powers while Allison’s family moves in on him and she learns about their history. Season 2 is about Scott’s existence as an Omega, a wolf without a pack, while Derek’s pack grows in strength and a monster called a Kanima runs around on the loose. Season 3A (yeah it’s one of those) is about Scott’s own growing pack coming up against a pack made entirely of Alpha Werewolves, the strongest kind there are while an evil Druid runs around on the loose. It’s at the end of 3A when Scott, Stiles, and Allison basically open a hellmouth in Beacon Hills when the show starts falling apart a bit.
It’s very clear when you’re watching this show how little Jeff Davis planned ahead. Isn’t that right Jeff?
I appreciate your apology. Teen Wolf suffers from the same issue as the X-Files. The creator is not the best writer. See, Jeff ends every season with a cliffhanger. A new pack arriving or another monster’s first kill, but the following season is almost always focused on something entirely different. In season 3B the pack fights Oni and an evil Kitsune. In season 4 the pack fights hunters but also inexplicably Mexican Berserkers and a were-jaguar. In season 5 the pack fights the Dread Doctors who freaking suck but also chimeras and a super werewolf. Honestly season 5 is a mess.
Last night season 6 premiered. I’m gonna post the trailer down here because, even with diminishing returns, this show knows how to cut a damn fine trailer.
So the bad guys are Ghost Riders. Which is only weird if you’re also watching Agents of SHIELD where they’re dealing with… Ghost Rider.
Like most good shows, Teen Wolf loses itself a bit as it goes on. The writing staff changed. The actor turn over is too constant. The fans know what they want, demand it loudly, but they never ever know what they need. And yet, I am still on board to the end.
Last night I watched Arrival, which is a very smart movie, then I immediately chased it with Teen Wolf, which is a very dumb show. But you know what? We all need dumb shows. They allow us to “turn off our brains” and go to a much less complex world than our own. That simplicity allows the cinematic, the scary, the visceral action moments to hit harder than other shows, and because your brain is off you didn’t expect anything of that caliber.
That’s when Teen Wolf becomes the greatest thing you’ve ever seen.
You can find all past seasons of Teen Wolf on Amazon Prime instant video. The current season airs Tuesdays at 9 on MTV.
PS, I apologize if you’re not here for gifs.