So, there’s this thing that happens to my brain sometimes. It kinda, sorta gets set on fire? Like, I watch a trailer for something or see a movie I liked, and my brain jumps from that was kind of interesting to holy SHIT I can’t think of anything else and are you expecting me to do something important right now, like work or pay attention to what you’re saying, because, seriously, I’m too busy thinking about this thing I just saw; in fact, I need to watch this thing again, like, maybe another 50 times or so, like, right now. So. Bye!
So, yeah. I do that. It can be kind of annoying, actually, because it can last a little longer than — strictly speaking — is probably normal, but it’s just how my brain works, and as long as I only do it with TV shows or actors’ filmographies and never progresses to actually stalking people in real life . . . you know, I’m not going to worry about it too much. Anyway, about maybe ten days ago, my brain caught on fire again . . . with the MTV series Teen Wolf, of all things.
I have never seen the 80’s movie Teen Wolf. I’ve heard of it, of course, and I laughed my ass off when I saw a short clip on TV and discovered that all the teenagers in this school were apparently just totally chill with this fucking werewolf playing basketball with them . . . but I’ve never felt any particular inclination to see the movie itself, and when I heard that MTV was making a TV series based on it, well, I was laughing my ass off at that, too.
But the thing is, I read fanfiction kind of obsessively — in fact, that’s mostly how I work through my current pop culture flavor of the month — so over the last couple of years, I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the authors I really liked were all into this Teen Wolf show. And I was like, Really? THAT show? But when I kept hearing decent things about it, especially post season one, I figured, Okay, maybe I’ll check this out sometime.
Sometime was ten days ago, when I decided to look up a couple of clips on Youtube, maybe glance at a fanfiction or two, and check out this “Stiles” character that everybody and their mother seemed to love. I figured I’d see if it looked like my kind of thing or not, and if I wanted to check it out between noir flicks.
. . . and within a few hours my brain was burning, and my long suffering but awesome sister and I sped through the twelve episode first season in two days.
Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), an asthmatic and permanent benchwarmer for the high school lacrosse team, is bitten by a werewolf and has to deal with all the bullshit that goes along with that, like gruesome, unexplained murders, hunters who want to kill him and all his kind, and not shifting into wolf form in front of his new girlfriend.
1. The fandom was absolutely right: Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) is easily the best character in the entire series.
Stiles is Scott’s snarky best friend, and while of course it’s true that the geeky comic relief is generally the best character in any series, I specifically kind of love Stiles and all his sarcastic, hyperactive glory. I like that he’s clearly the brains of the outfit. I like his relationship with his dad. I especially like whenever he makes fun of Scott because, good God, does Scott deserve to be made fun of sometimes. (And occasionally punched in the face. I swear, that kid . . . well, we’ll get to Scott.)
Maybe the best thing about Stiles is that he’s the funny one and the nerdy one but not exactly the nice one. After all, he does spend basically the whole first season pretty actively hoping for a main character to die, and that main character is not actually a bad guy. And while Stiles is incredibly loyal to Scott and sweetly anxious about his dad’s safety, he doesn’t seem to have much of a problem tricking or using anyone else to get what he needs. He’s kind of a terrible little shit, in a way, but he’s so much fun to watch.
2. Scott, however, is less of a terrible little shit than an obnoxious, lovestruck twit who’s kind of a horrible friend.
Honestly, I don’t hate Scott. He does have some good moments and a few reactions I totally buy, although I do think Tyler Posey is probably one of the weaker acting links on the show. (He’s pretty young, though, and it’s totally possible he’ll get better with further seasons as he settles into his character.) But by God, all Scott EVER DOES is think about Allison.
Allison is Scott’s love interest, and their star-crossed romance — especially in early episodes — is easily the most boring thing about Teen Wolf. On the upside, the show is pretty quick to call out Scott for his woobiness, his single-minded devotion, and his utter lack of priorities, which is not only gratifying for this reviewer with a cold, dead heart . . . it’s also, occasionally, hilarious. (I can’t tell you how hard I laughed at this one scene. I was dying.)
Allison, herself, is okay. There are a couple of episodes where she was kind of driving me crazy, but she also has a few moments I really liked, and I think I might enjoy her storyline more in Season Two, where it looks like she’ll have more to do than think about Scott and look confused about all the weird shit that’s happening around her and think about Scott some more.
3. Some of my favorite characters in this teen show are the adults. Specifically, Scott’s mom and Stiles’s dad.
Melissa McCall (Melissa Ponzio) is kind of hilarious. She’s pretty no-nonsense, has amazing reactions, and actually calls out her son on some of his bullshit. (You might be noticing a trend here, in what I enjoy in a character.) She seems like a very competent single parent, which is rare enough in television, much less television that features creatures that go bump in the night. If Ponzio had displayed even half this much personality while she guest-starred on The Walking Dead, I would have been a lot more invested in her character.
And then there’s also Sheriff Stilinski (Linden Ashby), who I simply can’t not call Sheriff Johnny Cage — because I’m sadly older than the target audience, dammit, and that’s the movie I’m always going to associate Linden Ashby with. Anyway, he’s also a funny, no-nonsense, competent single parent, and I basically adore every scene with him and Stiles together. I think they have one of the most interesting relationship dynamics in the whole show.
4. Oh, also: Kate (Jill Wagner) is kind of awesome.
I won’t talk too much about her for Spoiler Reasons, but yeah. She’s a crazy badass, and I found her pretty damn enjoyable to watch. It’s funny to think of her as the girl from Wipeout. I always forget that TV show hosts generally have other ambitions in the business besides reality show competition gigs, like acting.
5. He’s not a major player — not yet, anyway? — but so far, I’m enjoying how the show is handling Danny, the openly gay teenager on the lacrosse team.
Mostly because he’s popular and likable and nobody has a problem with him. Like, every single kid at Beacon Hills High is like, whatever, he’s gay, can we get back to ME now? Obviously, it’s good to have shows that deal with all the shit that gay teenagers have to deal with in HS, but I think it’s also equally important to have shows that just don’t make a big deal about it, that it’s just totally normal. Cause, you know. It should be.
6. The real terror the kids at this school have to face? Their teachers.
Holy shit, these teachers. They are all horrible human beings — like, these are not the kind mentors you go to after class to talk about your sad family problems. These are the guys that make fun of you in the middle of class because they clearly hate their lives and are secretly hoping to get fired so they can get back on track with whatever their original dream was. I’m not sure how kindly actual teachers would look upon this show, but I’ll admit to finding these guys pretty (meanly) hysterical.
7. Also? Seriously, who the hell plays lacrosse? Maybe this is because I’m from the wrong part of California, you know, the northern, rural part where the only real sport is football, but come on. I want to know how many public high schools in California actually have lacrosse teams. (Also, two Olympic sized swimming pools. Please.)
And while I’m ragging on silliness . . . there’s a bit of total Asthma Fail in the pilot. Oh yeah. One of these days, we’re going to get a kid who takes his inhaler three times in three minutes — preferably after appearing to have some actual kind of respiratory distress and not just deciding, well, I don’t have a lollipop; why don’t I just put my inhaler in my mouth instead — and he’s going to have some godamned shaky hands. Honestly. Why is no one ever twitchy after this? And why does every asthmatic character ever always take a puff off their inhaler when they’re feeling even the slightest bit scared? I WILL CONTINUE TO MOCK YOU, HOLLYWOOD, UNTIL YOU START TAKING ME SERIOUSLY.
8. My mockery will continue with the werewolf makeup because, duh. Werewolf makeup is always the funniest.
In the show’s defense, the werewolves do have kind of an 80’s look to them, so maybe the makeup itself is kind of an homage. And BTVS continues to have (forever) the very worst werewolves. Still. I laugh pretty much every time I see one on Teen Wolf — especially at all the glowy red and blue and yellow eyes — which means I laugh basically every episode. It’s a recipe for success, really.
Also enjoyable: werewolves don’t take stairs. They don’t need to. They just leap past that shit. A LOT.
9. It occurs to me that I’ve talked a lot about characters and makeup and not very much about the actual plot. And . . . yeah. I don’t think I’m going to start now — it’s considerably easier to avoid accidentally writing big spoilers that way.
Here’s what I will say: I enjoyed this show from the beginning, but the pilot — and really, the first few episodes — are regularly short of amazing. Even for a teen soap, I think they spend a little too much time on unnecessary romantic complications between the main two characters when there are so many other, more interesting mysteries left hovering in the background.
However, it does pick up, and by the end of the first season, I was genuinely finding myself drawn more and more into the story. And from everything I’ve read, the show only gets better, darker, crazier, and more intriguing every season, so I’m really looking forward to watching Season 2 now.
10. Besides, we all know why everyone’s really watching this show, right?
Cause, let’s be honest. If you can push past the pervy factor — and the actors, at least, are all above the age of consent — there are some decent looking young men in this show who are fairly constantly taking off their shirts for you to admire. Like Derek (Tyler Hoechlin), pictured above — who’s very favorite activity in the first season is to lurk in corners and stare ominously at people. Ominously and hotly.
It should be said, though: despite its best efforts, Teen Wolf is currently losing the Exercise Porn War to Arrow. These werewolves sure do like their shirtless pull-ups, but when they start actually climbing salmon ladders while simultaneously angsting away, then I’ll start being impressed with their exercise regimes.
(I will give Teen Wolf this, though: they know their audience. One of the Special Features on the DVD? Season One: Shirtless Montage. Priceless. Shameless, but priceless.)
Be advised: I keep out any major plot points and spoilers, but there are a fair number of quotes, so some details are bound to leak through. Also, 98% of these quotes are from Stiles. Cause he’s the best.
Stiles: “That’s the spirit. Everyone should have a dream, even a pathetically unrealistic one.”
Scott: “You know what actually worries me the most?”
Stiles: “You say Allison, and I’m gonna punch you in the head.”
Scott: “She probably hates me now.”
Coach: “My grandmother moves faster than that, and she’s dead. Do you think you can move faster than the lifeless corpse of my dead grandmother?”
Melissa McCall: “Is my beautiful, talented, wonderful son actually bringing me dinner?”
Scott: “Thought you wouldn’t mind skipping the cafeteria tonight.”
Melissa McCall: “You are the most thoughtful, loving, most conniving little con artist ever. You are so not getting the car tomorrow night.”
Melissa McCall: “What? There’s a curfew. No car. But I will take this. Love you!”
Sheriff: “So you lied to me?”
Stiles: “That depends on how you define lying.”
Sheriff: “Well, I define it as not telling the truth. How you define it?”
Stiles: “. . . reclining your body in a horizontal position?”
Allison: “Maybe you should stop pretending to suck for his benefit.”
Lydia: “Trust me, I do plenty of sucking just for his benefit.”
Scott: “Am I gonna hurt someone?”
Scott: “Could I kill someone?”
Scott: “Am I gonna kill someone?”
Melissa: “Can you please tell your friend to use the front door?”
Scott: “But we lock the front door. He wouldn’t be able to get in.”
Melissa McCall: “Yeah, exactly. And, by the way, do either of you care that there’s a police enforced curfew?”
Scott and Stiles: “No.”
Melissa McCall: “No. All right, then, well, you know what, that’s enough parenting for me for one night.”
Derek: “Start the car, or I’m going to rip your throat out . . . with my teeth.”
Derek: “You faint at the sight of blood?”
Stiles: “No, but I might at the sight of a chopped off arm!”
(Kate thinks Scott has stolen something out of her bag — which he totally has.)
Kate: “C’mon, Scott. Prove me wrong.”
Allison: “I’ll prove you wrong. Uh, it wasn’t Scott going through your bags. It was me.”
(Allison defiantly holds up a condom in front of her aunt and father.)
Jackson: “I am not watching The Notebook again!”
(a few minutes later, in the video store)
Jackson: “Can somebody help me find The Notebook?”
Allison: “Sorry, sorry. I just totally soccer-mommed you.”
Scott: “That’s all right. I’ll just pick up my masculinity on the way back.”
Sheriff: “I’m carrying a lethal weapon. If I want the curly fries, I will have the curly fries.”
Stiles: “If you think getting rid of all the contractions in your sentences makes your argument any more legitimate, then you are wrong.”
Stiles: “Hey, it’s me again. Look, I found something, and I don’t know what to do, okay? So if you could turn your phone on right now, that’d be great, or else I’ll kill you. Do you understand me? I’m going to kill you. And I’m too upset to come up with a witty description about how exactly I’m going to kill you, but I’m just going to do it, okay? I’m gonna — UGH. Goodbye.”
Coach: “So, Stiles. Great kid, zero ability to focus, super smart, never takes advantage of his talents.”
Sheriff: “How do you mean?”
Coach: “Well, for his final question on his midterm exam? He detailed the entire history of the male circumcision.”
Sheriff: “Well, I mean it does have historical significance, right?”
Coach: “I teach economics.”
Sheriff: “Aw, crap.”
Stiles: “You know, this whole women make you weak thing is a little too Spartan warrior for me.”
Scott: “Something smells terrible in here, anyway.”
Stiles: “Really? In a boys locker room? That doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Stiles: “Yeah, it’s called heartbreak. About two billion songs written about it.”
Danny: “You’re a horrible person.”
Stiles: “I know. It keeps me awake at night.”
Stiles: “All right, first off . . . throwing Derek under the bus? Nicely done.”
Scott: “What do we do?”
Stiles: “We get to my Jeep. We get out of here. You seriously think about quitting your job.”
Scott: “I love her.”
Stiles: “That’s great; now, moving on –”
Scott: “No, no, no. Really. I think I’m totally in love with her.”
Stiles: “And that’s beautiful. Now, before you go off and write a sonnet, can we figure this out please . . .”
Scott: “Was that okay? I mean that was a howl, right?”
Stiles: “Yeah, technically.”
Scott: “Well, what did it sound like to you?”
Stiles: “Like a cat being choked to death, Scott.”
(Everyone is barricading the door except for Stiles.)
Stiles: “Guys, can we just wait a second — guys, can you listen to me, wait a second — guys — Stiles talking — can we hang on one second — HELLO!
(Everyone finally turns around)
Stiles: “Okay, nice work. Really beautiful job, everyone. Now, what should we do about the twenty foot wall of windows?”
Jackson: “What do you mean, no?”
Stiles: “I mean, no. You wanna hear it in Spanish? No.”
Stiles: “Call me Biles, or I swear to God I’ll kill you.”
Derek: “By the way, one more thing?”
(Derek slams Stiles’s head into the steering wheel.)
Stiles: “God, what the hell was that f– ”
Derek: “You know what that was for.”
(Stiles gets his father drunk so he can access crime scene and arrest records)
Stiles: “Another shot?”
Sheriff: “No, no. No more.”
Stiles: “Dad, come on. You work really hard. You deserve it.”
Sheriff: “Oh my god, I’m going to have such a hangover.”
Stiles: “You mean you’re going to have such a good night sleep. (aside) And I’m going to have an eternity in the lowest circle of Hell.”
Stiles: “Well, I shouldn’t say I told you so . . . because it’s not strong enough. How about I’m always right, and you should listen to whatever I have to say and never disagree ever, ever for the sake of your wolvlihood?”
Scott: “I’m not letting him die.”
Stiles: “Could you at least think about letting him die? For me?”
Melissa McCall: “Have you told her how you feel?”
Scott: “She knows.”
(Melissa smacks Scott in the forehead.)
Melissa: “Come on, she knows. She knows? Listen, dumbass, I’m going to let you in on a secret that most guys don’t even have a clue about, all right? You ready? Women love words.”
(Someone Bad is forcing Stiles to hack into Scott’s phone to turn on the GPS)
Someone Bad (ominously): “Are you going to save him? Are you going to save your best friend who you know so well that you even know his user name and password?
(Stiles enters the username)
Someone Bad (disbelievingly): “His user name is Allison?
(Stiles enters the password)
Someone Bad (annoyed): “His password is also Allison?”
Stiles: “Still want him in your pack?”
(Intimidating Bad Guys are looking for Scott)
Stiles (lying): “Scott McCall? Um, haven’t seen him since the dance. Jackson, you?”
Jackson (badly nervous): “Um . . . I . . .”
Stiles: “Oh, for the love of God.”
Soapy, supernatural, enjoyable fun with, I think, some honest-to-God potential . . . especially if they occasionally ease up just a little on Scott’s and Allison’s romance and put the focus somewhere else . . . Stiles, for instance, or hooking up Scott’s mom and Stiles’s dad. (That’s gonna happen, right? I mean, it just has to.)
Love will save you from yourself. Or, alternatively, you can just always listen to your wisecracking buddy instead, and he’ll save you from yourself.