A “Teen Wolf” Roundtable – Part 1
All of us at ‘The Geekiary’ are familiar with Teen Wolf. So, it felt right to have a roundtable discussion regarding the teen supernatural show that’s now in its third season. We have four writers in the discussion, including myself. To kick things off we decided to start with the previous seasons. We’ll be talking about how we started watching the show and how the show has evolved.
Question: How did you first get into Teen Wolf?
Farid: I got into Teen Wolf quite late, December 2012, though I knew about it since 2011. I didn’t have anything to watch that month and was free from academics for a while. So, I googled it and marathoned both seasons. I also ventured into the TW Tumblr universe, got to know about Sterek, the talented and friendly TW fandom, and I was hooked! I actually owe a lot to TW. I was able to make amazing friends on the internet and a Sterek post I wrote introduced me to ‘The Geekiary’!
Sarah Sue: I didn’t get into TW until after season two had ended. I had heard about it, of course, having seen posts about it on my Tumblr but dismissed it as “a MTV show about teen werewolves”. But then my best friend Mandy was into the show, and she has a habit of “Sarah, you need to watch this show with me!” Her hook was that there was a popular slash ship on the show that I would really like…and of course that ship was Sterek. When I finally caved, she actually purchased the first season for me as a birthday present online and had it shipped to my house (we live in different parts of the US). I binged the first season and haven’t looked back since.
Kerry: I didn’t start watching Teen Wolf until this summer after I met the cast at San Diego Comic-Con. My former intern is a huge Teen Wolf fan and when she found out we would be doing an interview with the cast, she spent a great deal of time telling me about the show and how much she loved it. I also had a cousin who loved the show and my sister’s friends were fans. When I saw it was on Netflix I decided I’d check it out but I only decided to start watching when the cast came out to do an interview and I was shocked by how good-looking the entire cast was (why deny it?).
I didn’t know who was who but I do remember thinking Tyler Hoechlin was distractingly attractive, though the entire cast was sweet and excited to be at SDCC. I managed to grab Dylan O’Brien for a photo because Stiles was my cousin’s favorite character and he was nice enough to stop for me in the middle of SDCC madness. After that, I knew I had to start watching this show. Now that I’m a fan I can’t believe I actually met them! I didn’t even know any of the characters’ names except Stiles! I guess it’s good I wasn’t a massive fan at the time because I probably would’ve bombarded them with a ton of questions!
Undie Girl: You’re so lucky Kerry, but I think you’re right meeting them after becoming a fan makes this a lot harder. I kind of wish I my first experience with Teen Wolf had been some big epic moment because if I’d know what a big part of my life it would become I probably would have made a bigger deal out of it. I was feeling a little fragile one Sunday morning and I was looking for something completely mindless to watch. Teen Wolf was ALL over my Tumblr dash because it was about halfway through Season 2 (what can I say? Hoechlin’s abs are very enticing) and, honestly, I figured I’d watch just so I would be able to say with authority that it sucked. Except it didn’t suck. It was all kinds of awesome in ways that it had absolutely no right to be and by the time the next episode aired I was completely hooked.
Question: What started out as a Romeo/Juliet story with a ‘Werewolf’ twist, things have greatly changed for the show in three seasons: New characters and supernatural beings. Do you feel the show has lost focus trying to broaden its scope?
Sarah Sue: Yes. I feel that with each new season, the plot seems to be the main focus, while character development falls by the wayside. Case in point: the Hales. There’s no clear timeline when it comes to the events leading up to, during, and after the fire, where Derek and Laura were all those years, how Cora survived and where she was…hell, we don’t even know how old Derek is! Stiles said in the first episode that “he’s only a few years older than us”, but Davis teased that Derek was a lot older than we thought and then in season 3A, he threw in this monkey wench where apparently werewolves age differently than humans? Now, does this apply to all werewolves or only born werewolves? We don’t know, and Jeff Davis ain’t telling, which begs the questions of whether or not he even knows. There is a lack of continuity on this show and we’re almost three seasons in now. Does every season really need to have some epic baddie that the gang has to fight? When will things slow down a bit and really focus on the characters that we’ve come to know and love?
Farid: For me Teen Wolf works as a ‘character’ show. It has given us amazing characters and I know fans want to know more. Look at ‘Shameless’. It works perfectly as a character show and that’s where the charm lies. Yes, Scott, Stiles, and Allison are the Golden Trio, but I still have a lot of questions pertaining to them and other characters, especially the Hales. I think Jeff messed up trying to bring more supernatural stuff into the show. 3A could’ve worked well enough without the Darach thing put into the mix. It could’ve been introduced in 3B and the current storyline could’ve been Season 4. Everything feels hurried and there isn’t enough focus on the main cast. The ‘unanswered questions’ pile keeps getting bigger and is starting to lose its charm. The inconsistency in the timeline has gotten too obvious to ignore (Does Beacon Hills exist in a time bubble of some sort?). I really want Jeff to focus on the main cast and stop giving us half-baked characters just for shock value. I know fans who are just watching for the sake of their ships and the love for their favorite character/s, but I don’t know how long they will continue if things don’t change.
Kerry: I love the way the show has evolved into more supernatural-focused. I actually couldn’t stand the Romeo and Juliet love story between Allison and Scott. It just seemed so bland and generic. I cared more about the secondary characters and the universe of the werewolves. I wanted to know more about the Hales and their history with the hunters. Honestly, it wasn’t until Motel California in Season 3A that Teen Wolf FINALLY gave me a solid, spooky, supernatural episode. To me, Motel California was what Teen Wolf should’ve been from the beginning: teenagers dealing with the supernatural and high school life. At the same time, I’m a horror fan more than a romance fan so maybe that’s just why I am loving the later seasons more than the first two.
Season 3B has so far been amazing and just what I’ve been waiting for. I am enjoying that the show branches out to different folklore and mythologies, especially those that aren’t just Euro-centric (the whole Celtic mythology in earlier seasons was definitely played out). So far, the Japanese mythology is being handled well, and I sincerely hope it stays that way and just doesn’t fall into cliched stereotypes.
Undie Girl: To be perfectly honest I don’t think that Teen Wolf was ever “a Romeo/Juliet story with a ‘Werewolf’ twist”. At least not for me. I think it was marketed that way, which is why I avoided it for so long, but I always thought it had more in common with Buffy than Twilight. Scott and Allison’s relationship didn’t interest me in Season 1 (although it grew on me in Season 2), but it wasn’t really that important. Okay, yes it was an important part of the plot and their individual character arcs but that kind of extreme all-or-nothing romance worked with the Buffyesque “high school is hell” supernatural metaphor that made me fall in love with this show. It was over the top and cliche (and I really don’t think romance is Jeff Davis strong suit) but that’s what young love is like.
As far as broadening scope of the show’s mythology goes, it’s a problem that all supernatural dramas face. They have to introduce new threats because otherwise the story stagnates. So I’m not against the show evolving on principle. That said, 3A definitely lost track of what makes this show great: the characters. I think they got overwhelmed with possibility. In a supernatural universe you can essentially do anything but that doesn’t mean you should do it all at once. Just introducing a new threat and/or new characters does not automatically increase tension, especially if the threats/characters have no real connection to the established characters. So I’m all for the show broadening it’s mythological scope as long as they connect it organically to the characters we love – which 3B has actually done pretty well so far.
And yeah, the timeline is a joke, we know that. But if they are consistent with their characterizations I could care less whether they know what year it is.
Question: Do you think Jeff has a habit of killing off characters too soon and that has negatively affected the show?
Farid: I do feel that killing characters just for the sake of killing characters isn’t a wise move for any writer. Especially not when the fans are quite passionate about them. I still can’t get over the death of Victoria Argent. She was an incredible character in the TW universe. Even seriously injuring her would’ve had the same effect on Allison because of Gerard’s manipulations. Derek biting her just didn’t make sense to me. Boyd and Erica were killed off. Even Matt. Not to mention a whole bunch of characters we weren’t quite familiar with. Jeff has teased about a character death in 3B too. TW seems to at the point where every new character is either going to die or be evil or both just because it’s supposed to be dramatic or something.
Kerry: I’m on the fence about this. I thought Victoria’s death and poignant and well done. Gerard should’ve just stayed dead. Where is he in this season anyway? Boyd and Erica’s deaths were pretty tough. Erica really had no reason to die and while I was irritated that the one person of color died, Boyd’s death did play a significant role in Derek’s character development. I am terrified of Kira dying because she is a strong, funny, intelligent, and dynamic character. Then again, she is a woman and a person of color so she is most likely at risk. I just don’t trust Jeff, really.
And the whole teasing death thing is getting super played out in fandom and social media. It almost always sets the audience up for disappointment because either they’ll be sad over the character death or surprised so much that they’re annoyed.
Undie Girl: This is a hard one because I’m all for killing characters. Nothing makes a threat real like killing off someone that matters but then as a fan I don’t want ANYONE to die. Victoria Argent’s death upset me because I LOVED her character (and I was crushing on Eaddy Mays) but I also thought it worked. It was a powerful moment, an important turning point for Allison’s character, and it hit all the right emotional beats. Her death became problematic after 3A revealed there was a trend of killing off female villains while allowing their male counterparts to live. That’s not cool but has more to do with 3A’s problems than Victoria’s actual death.
It’s all 3A’s fault really, because most of the problems we’re talking about come from there. Erica’s death was sudden. The excuse is that the actor left but Colton Haynes left too and Jackson just got shipped off to London. Boyd’s death was poorly handled. I don’t think it had any real impact on Derek (we certainly weren’t shown any impact) and as a result his death comes across as at best pointless and at worst sensationalist. That coupled with the fact that a woman and a POC were killed while the white boy they were introduced with was allowed to live makes the whole thing kind of gross and super problematic.
Honestly I don’t think the problem is that Jeff kills of characters too soon so much as he doesn’t know how to make death matter. Jackson’s death would have had a huge impact on all of the core characters and would have been a fantastic source of angst for seasons to come. Erica and Boyd on the other hand would have had more impact if they just CHOSE to leave Derek and never come back. Another person Derek cares about dying doesn’t really alter him in any significant way but if they chose to leave him, that would cause him to reevaluate things, that would have had impact. Killing a character just for the sake of killing a character is just a cheap attempt to illicit an emotional response from the audience when really all it does it piss people off.
Sarah: I do agree that Victoria’s death really was a punch to the gut for Allison, and we got a fantastic performance out of Crystal Reed as a result! Bringing Gerard back in 3A irritated me beyond belief. His returning just seemed to serve as a way to give “backstory” to Deucalion and the Hales, and surely there was another way that could have been accomplished. Gage Golightly quitting the show forced Jeff Davis’ hand, but killing off Boyd was completely unnecessary. He teased in interviews that he had had a storyline in 3A where things developed between Boyd and Erica but was forced to scrap it when Gage left the show. Now, my best friend had no problem with Davis killing off Boyd, saying, “Hey for once, we have a male character being killed off because of a female character instead of the other way around!” And while that might be true, I just think it’s sloppy writing that Davis chose to kill him off instead of reworking his storyline. Plus he infuriated a part of his fanbase by killing off a person of color in a predominately Caucasian cast. I still see posts on my Tumblr dash where people lament the loss of Boyd and Erica, and I’m fearful for Kira’s fate by the end of this season. But hey, she isn’t connected to Derek in any way, seemingly being set up as Scott’s new love interest. So that’s a plus in her favor!
Tell us what you think. How did you first get into Teen Wolf? Do you feel the show has lost its focus? Do you dislike the haphazardly killing of characters? Leave your comments below, and feel free to ask your own own questions. Stick around for more round table discussion. Our next discussion topic might come from you!
Farid has a Masters in Psychology and is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies. He reviews shows such as Gotham and Teen Wolf.
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