Friday, June 24, 2011

Thoughts on 'Teen Wolf': Episodes 1-4

So when I first heard about MTV's Teen Wolf, I could not get the image of that campy 80's movie with the same name staring Michael J. Fox.  Honestly, I was scared to watch.  It turns out it is not in the least bit camp.  The special effects are also pretty awesome and the male stars are not hard on the eyes at all. Okay, okay before you start chanting jail bait and accusing me of robbing the cradle, this is who I am referring to most specifically:

Ummm. Mine Mine Mine Mine
Tyler Posey is bitten in the woods by an alpha werewolf but it his best friend, Stiles who figures out right away that he is a werewolf when he starts to exhibit weird skills and behaviour.  Suddenly, Tyler is not only agile, but has a strong sense of smell and improved hearing.  Rather than showing concern about the changes happening to his body, in typical teen angst urban fantasy Tyler is lusting for the new girl Allison Argent.  Yeah why worry that your life will never be the same when you have the attention of a hot girl. Unfortunately for Tyler, Allison comes from a line of hunters that hunts and kills werewolves.  Her father, Argent is absolutely on to him, but that is not enough for him to think that maybe the cute girl isn't worth the risk. Unfortunately, to think that way one would actually have to be thinking with one's head and not one's groin.

Tyler is determined to live the life of the average teenage boy and so when he gets picked for the starting line on the school lacrosse team he decides to play, though by doing so he not only risks changing in front of everyone in the stadium but hurting those on the field with him.  He is warned to avoid this by the other beta werewolf in town Derek Hale because he cannot control his ability to shift.  Instead of thinking, hey maybe we should listen to this guy because he is the only werewolf that we know but instead Tyler arranges to have him arrested after finding a dead body buried on his property. 

Obviously a show involving teenagers mean ANGST.  Not only do we have Tyler lusting after Allison, the former king of lacrosse, Jackson has decided that Tyler's sudden physical prowess is due to steroids and is determined to expose him to the world.  Yes, teenage boys must test their testosterone out on each other.

All of this is being played out against a backdrop of  an alpha werewolf who is determined to bond with Tyler through killing a human together.  

I suppose now we should talk about the setting.  I can't remember the name of the town that these characters live in, but I can tell you that it is extremely rich.  All the houses look like McMansions and all of the teenagers have cars with exception of Tyler, who is poor because he is being raised by a single mother.  This fictional town seems fairly large however it is a Whiteness utopia.  Finding a person of colour, is like looking for the one grain of pepper in a salt shaker; it's not going to happen.  Why have one ism full of fuckery when you can add multiples.

Lydia Martin, seems to be the most popular girl in school.  She is aggressive and generally speaking not a nice person. When Tyler attempted to get out of the big game she cornered him and gave him a lecture on her versions of losers.  Okay, so far no big deal.  Every show needs to have someone we can actively despise right?  Well a few episodes later Lydia, Jackson, Tyler and Allison go bowling on a double date.  Watching Lydia bowl, Allison notices that she has perfect form and is a much better bowler than she is letting on.  When Allison tells her that she does not have to let Tyler win, Lydia counters with the fact that not only is she letting him win at bowling, but that there are actual several things that she allows him to beat her at regularly.   I get the point that was being made her but without an answering comment from Allison asserting that she is internalizing patriarchal values.  The absence of commentary leaves the watcher to believe that this sort of approach should be normalized path to success.

Finally, this show introduced a brand new bit of fuckery into urban fantasy - the never visible gay character or in other words, the gay Merris for you Frasier fans.  We know that there is a gay character because the coach brings up him and actively wonders if the reason Tyler wants to avoid the big game is because he is afraid people will find out he is gay. Stiles then goes on to make a few references to said character as well.  The catch with all of this however, is that we hear a lot about this character but we never, ever see him on camera. This is the most bizzare attempt to faux inclusion that I have seen in the genre to date.

Teen Wolf in my mind is not as bad as Twilight, or The Vampire Diaries when it comes to angst, but it  has already had its share of issues, in the four episodes that I have seen thus far.  I don't really dislike any of the characters and many of the fails that currently exist on the show are ubiquitous to the genre.  So, at this point I am going to take a wait and see approach to this show.


Aishyo said...

I started watching but so far there is so many fails. Every network is trying to grab the urban fantasy teen audience. Have you seen the nine lives of chole king btw? Yes it's about cats.

William H. said...

Yarp, I was not amused by Danny the invisible gay goalie. They have officially turned diversity into a running gag.

I've seen all of three non-white people in the show that I remember (only two of which I would say count as "characters"). Only one of them has appeared in more than one episode so far. Two of them are men. All three of them are black. This is something that I've noticed in a lot of TV shows; they'll be like "Whoa, we're looking pretty white here! Better throw in a black dude so we can claim we're not racist!" Never mind the other racial demographics they're erasing, or their failure to do these characters with any kind of sensitivity. I touched on this in my blog post on one episode, but it could probably stand to have a special written about it.

Roxie said...

reading this makes me think that Allison might be the Alpha....Also, will you cover The Nine Lives of Chloe King?

Anonymous said...

Not to entirely disagree with your point about the whiteness of the show, but Tyler Posey is listed as being mixed racial (part Mexican) on IMDB. I remember taking one look at him and thinking, 'mixed.' Great for me 'cause I'm also mixed. Not so great in the sense that this POC has such pale skin ('cause we all know you can't have a dark skinned POC as a main character -- mixed or otherwise).

Anonymous said...

On second thought... It seems even more problematic to have a poor light-skinned POC being raised by a single mother in a mostly white and affluent town...

Unknown said...

As I told you on Twitter,Renee, I didn't last 5 minutes watching Teen Wolf. The invisible gay character is just lame.

BTW, I love the new look of the site! Great logo!

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