Jeff Davis on Malia “If she’s good enough for Scott and Stiles, hopefully the fans will like her, too”… Wait! What?
There’s a lot of talk about Malia Tate going around in the Teen Wolf fandom. Some fans like her; some don’t, while some just don’t care. However, one thing is certain; the people involved in Teen Wolf are excited about her. In a recent TVline.com interview with Jeff Davis, some of the things he said regarding Malia, especially in light of the current state of some fans, caught my eye. Let’s break down what we know about Malia as a character, and the things Jeff said in the interview.
In order to see if the fans hostility or acceptance towards Malia can be justified, regardless of them being anti or pro-Sterek and/or Sydia shippers, let’s take a look at what we know about her as a character.
Malia Tate was introduced as girl who was stuck as a were-coyote for eight years, and was responsible for the death of her mother and little sister. Later episodes revealed that she was Peter Hale’s daughter, though some fans are suspicious about this. More or less, all we know about Malia is that she’s been roaming around in Beacon Hills woods for eight years, got turned back into human by Scott, went to Eichen House, hooked up with Stiles, then started high school, and she is/could be Peter’s daughter. That’s it. That’s all we know in the total of four episodes of Season 3B she has appeared in. If Malia does turn out to be Peter’s daughter, it will lower what I think of Talia Hale. How can a powerful alpha like Talia, leave a baby, a possible were-being, under the care of ordinary humans, without taking anyone into confidence? If the Hale Fire took place in 2005, Malia had been living as a were-coyote for two years, since 2003, and Talia not keeping an eye on her niece, doesn’t feel right, especially after the report that the her possible adoptive mother and sister died in a car crash.
For me, this was the episode that made me react negatively to Malia as a character. I was fine with her introduction as a long lost were-coyote, and even possibly being Peter’s daughter. However, her interaction with Stiles didn’t feel right, especially considering all the things that were wrong with the episode. It’s apparent that Jeff pushed her character onto Stiles in that episode. Jeff Davis even admits that he’s aware of her introduction as being very quick, in the TVLine interview. Whether or not one is a Sterek or a Stydia shipper, etc. seeing two teenagers having unprotected sex in the basement of a mental asylum, while one of the character’s is under possession of a supernatural being was going to get viewers to react, and react they did. That’s one of the reasons that some fans don’t like her. It’s not just her, I believe that if Kira was shown having sex with Scott in the same manner, she would’ve been met with a similar reaction.
Another thing that got some fans to react was how Malia acted after turning back into a human. Feral children are a well-known fact, and I think Jeff not giving this a second thought doesn’t do Malia any favors. The viewer’s know that she was stuck as a coyote for eight years. I expected her arc to be concerned with adapting to human society. Jeff does acknowledge her having a wild side, but with the way things have gone and the way he answered the question, I think that will be used more in terms with sexual instincts, and less to do with how she’s able to attend high school in her current state. So, I won’t be surprised if her arc only consists of trying to figure out her relationship with Stiles, always being ready for a fight, and having comedic scenes where she shows confusion regarding a new piece of technology, along with some confusion about who her real father is.
Another female LI for Stiles
Every season of Teen Wolf seems to bring in new love interests for the characters. As we are talking about Malia, I’m going to keep this related to Stiles. Season One showed Stiles crushing over Lydia. Season Two introduced Erica, who shared some flirtatious scenes with Stiles. Lydia and Erica were different characters in their own right. Also note that those were the two seasons Jeff didn’t know about Sterek when he wrote them. Erica had her own backstory, a girl who suffered seizures and accepted Derek’s bite as a gift. But come Season 3A, Jeff already knew about Sterek, and Gage Golightly (who played Erica) had left the show. So, what did he do? He brought in Cora Hale, a member of Derek’s family who just happened to be alive after the fire. How she survived, where she was all those years was never explained. Some fans immediately saw her as a female version of Derek. But then Adelaide Kane who played Cora left, and Season 3B introduced Malia, another character who’s also Stiles’s love interest. As a fan of the show, seeing Stiles in a romantic relationship after the events of 3B doesn’t feel right. If Jeff is giving Lydia’s romantic life a backseat, then why isn’t Stiles getting the same treatment and being allowed to heal?
It’s natural that fans have different viewpoints about Malia as a character. The cast seems to be excited about her, and Arden Cho (Kira) went on to say how the writers have “written her to be perfect”. I understand the cast being excited about a new regular on the show, and I understand why some fans like or dislike her considering the things they know.
Jeff has the right to bring in any new character he wants on Teen Wolf, in this case Malia. He can also control what other characters think of her. However, what he can’t expect to control is the reaction of the fans. In a question about fans feeling ‘hesitant’ to embrace Malia, Jeff answers: “I understand it completely. She’s entering the show in a big way, and in a very quick way, whereas other characters were introduced more slowly and casually.”
It’s good to know that Jeff understands that all fans aren’t welcoming towards Malia. However, there seems to be some confusion about what he thinks he knows about the fandom. First of all, for me Malia’s entry wasn’t big or quick in the way he thinks. However, it might feel inappropriate to some fans. Her character was introduced in episode 3×13, the same one in which fans met Kira. Not only that, season 3B’s first two episodes were all about Scott and his pack trying to save Malia. At this point, both Kira and Malia were both the new characters of the show. Both had mystery surrounding them. So, in a sense, Malia’s debut was done in the same way as Kira’s. Both were new female characters that happened to become part of the story and had supernatural ties. Malia’s debut wasn’t something that got the fans all riled up. At the beginning, she and Kira were in the same boat, more or less, character wise.
Then episode 3×20 “Echo House” happened, an episode we have also talked about. There were so many things wrong with it, and I think that was the episode that got the fans to speak up. Malia’s character, who many fans thought was going to be a ‘feral child’ ended up acting quite normal after eight years living as a coyote. She hooked up with Stiles, a fan favorite, and ended up becoming a series regular.
Jeff also said: “One of the great things about Scott and is pack is that they accept someone new wholeheartedly without reservation. Almost immediately, she’s one of them, which means she’s part of them. So if she’s good enough for Scott and Stiles, hopefully the fans will like her, too.”
Having watched all the seasons of Teen Wolf, I don’t think Scott and his pack accepting someone new ‘wholeheartedly and without reservation’ is something they should be doing at this point. If the pack hasn’t learned to be wary of new comers by now, I don’t know if they will ever learn. As far as being ‘good enough for Scott and Stiles’ is concerned, that doesn’t make for a very convincing argument. Jeff writes how Scott and Stiles feel, and that’s why he can make the pack feel accepting of Malia. Fans are a different story. They have a different way of looking at things, and deciding which character they like or not. The Teen Wolf fandom is passionate, and they have shown their love for the show on numerous occasions. It’s natural that some fans see things that the writers can’t. I felt that Jeff praising Shelley Henning (Malia Tate) in the interview didn’t really answer the question being asked. Malia’s character has nothing to do with how Shelley is as an actress. And what purpose does saying that the actress is ‘funny’ serve when it comes to convincing the fans to like Malia?
In the end, using Scott and Stiles, two characters he himself wrote, as a standard for trying to convince fans to like Malia, just came across as sad as far as I’m concerned. I think no matter how much Jeff and the cast try to play up Malia, it’s not going to change what some fans think about her at this point because their opinions have already been made by what they’ve seen in 3B. Who knows, maybe (although I am doubtful) Malia will turn out to be the perfect character the cast is talking about. Or maybe she will polarize fans even more. Either way we will have to wait for Teen Wolf Season 4 to premiere on 23, June 2014 to find out.
What are your thoughts about Malia Tate? Are you okay with the way Jeff worded his answers in the interview? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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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