Why Are Teen Wolf Season 4 Ratings Slipping?
There’s no denying that Teen Wolf started out with great potential. It was seen as the go-to show for interesting characters and non-stereotypical LGBT representation. Creator Jeff Davis and TPTB were open to fan interaction and even talked about different ships, something that led to the ‘Jeff Davis is a gift’ stance in the fandom. While the show saw increased popularity during the first three years, Season 4 hasn’t been performing comparatively well. So, what went wrong?
I can’t say that I’ll be able to mention all the things that could’ve influenced the current ratings for Season 4 of Teen Wolf. Nonetheless, I have listed some things I think could’ve sparked the dwindling interest in the werewolf show.
Too Much Teen Wolf
Teen Wolf aired 12 episodes each for Season 1 and 2. This made fans anxiously wait for the next season. The hiatus allowed fans to create amazing art, speculate about the future seasons, and correct things in canon they didn’t like. With Season 3 the show aired 24 episodes in 2013. Getting more episodes of your favorite show does sound exciting but with a show like Teen Wolf it meant fans were getting double the amount of plot holes. While 3A and 3B were the most viewed, they also made the fandom more vocal.
New characters were introduced in 3A and then forgotten about in 3B. The PR changed and a major character death began getting teased in 3B which it didn’t sit well with fans. Though it was still fun the fact remained that Season 3 had a lot of inconsistencies. Questions kept piling up without proper answers and it was something viewers clearly didn’t have the temperament to deal with anymore.
Of all the shows I have watched Teen Wolf has a canon I can’t make sense of. Doctor Who deals with time-travel and it’s still able to maintain a satisfactory timeline. Fans have tried to figure out the timeline of the events that occurred in Beacon Hills, but as far as the show itself is concerned, it hasn’t done anything to correct the confusion.
At first fans were able to ignore such things but after four years it started to get annoying. In Season 3A a school report by Danny had 2013 written on it when the canon year was still supposed to be 2012. The most recent mistake the show made was making Malia Tate 13 years old when they showed her birth certificate. So, apparently fan-favorite Stiles has been doing it with a 13 year old and she’s also in the same highschool year as him and Scott who are years older than her.
It’s not as if Jeff’s the only one writing the show. Teen Wolf has a group of writers and one wonders what MTV is paying them for because it definitely has nothing to do with keeping canon in check.
If one looks at the four seasons as a whole, one trend comes to mind: There’s a new big bad, new characters, someone dies. These things are a staple for a lot of TV shows in the general, but shows don’t forget to develop their lead characters unlike Teen Wolf.
Over the years the show has pushed its lead characters to the background and spent more time on new ones. The famous TV show Glee did such a thing and it horribly backfired. Fans are invested in the characters they are familiar with and they want to know more about them. Introducing new characters and forcing viewers to care for them doesn’t work.
In Season 4 we have The Benefactor (the new big bad), a roster of new characters (that no one really cares about), and people dying left and right (Beacon Hills should have a population of zero by now). It gets boring after four years and fans will surely move on to something else, something a bit different.
Controlling the Fandom
Ever since the promotion for Season 4 started, fans have noticed a different approach in PR. It’s as if TPTB are trying to control the fandom, something no show can do no matter how much they try. The fans make up the fandom and it’s their own personal space. TPTB can participate in the discussions, etc. but they can’t control it. The fandom isn’t a kingdom for any TPTB to rule. It just doesn’t work like that.
Where Teen Wolf fans have been vocal about their constructive criticisms for the show, TPTB only catered to the comments that shine a positive light on the show. The show’s official Tumblr and twitter accounts have only responded to comments about how good the show is. No one has even tried to address the problems fans are talking about this year. They even created The Collective which understandably sparked backlash.
Shipping is a big part of any fandom. Fans get behind pairings, straight as well as gay, which aren’t necessarily canon. It’s a fact that the famous gay ship Sterek (Stiles and Derek) has played a vital role in promoting Teen Wolf when it first started. You just need to visit sites like Tumblr and AO3 to get a feeling of how active Sterek shippers are. Jeff Davis himself courted the idea of Sterek and shippers rejoiced. It felt good to be respected by the creator of the show relating to a ship consisting of two male characters that wasn’t canon.
However, things started to change. Sterek became a ‘bad’ word by Season 3 and most definitely a ‘taboo’ one by Season 4. All of the focus was put on Malia and her romance with Stiles. It was surely something unexpected for fans that weren’t used to being outright ignored by TPTB.
This led to the Sterek shippers, as well as other fans who were tired of being ignored, to take a different approach. Their love for the characters grew into a separate entity from the show. If the show couldn’t give them what they want, then they were better off without it. Teen Wolf has used its social-media active fans too many times, and fans grew tired of the trend and not getting due respect in return.
Recently, Sterek was able to win a huge slash poll but when it came to voting for a favorite TV show, Teen Wolf hasn’t been getting votes. The trend seems to support the fact that fans love the characters in Teen Wolf rather than the show itself. If TPTB are willing to ignore fan criticism and want to control the fandom, then fans are happy with taking their enthusiasm elsewhere.
No LGBT Representation
A large part of Teen Wolf’s online fandom includes people who want a show that respects LGBT representation. Danny was a perfect
example of a non-stereotypical character on TV but it quickly became obvious that he was just a background prop. He’s rumored to not be a part of Season 4 either.
While cast members such as Tyler Posey have admired the show for emphasizing the gay storyline, it takes just a second to realize that Teen Wolf hasn’t done anything good for LGBT representation. After four years of sticking around and wondering about Stiles’ bisexuality, a lot of fans have had enough. It seems Teen Wolf was never meant to cater gay fans except for giving them good-looking male actors, some shirtless scenes and a lot of homosexual subtext.
It’s all icing…Nothing else
Teen Wolf is a show that doesn’t have depth. It consists of flashy stuff and nothing much for fans to bite into. I sometimes feel sorry for Teen Wolf. It’s not the show’s fault that it lured in smart and enthusiastic fans. Everything would’ve been great for the show if it found fans who were happy with a non-existent canon, hot male and female actors making out with each other, and slow-motion action sequences.
The death of characters isn’t talked about, and they aren’t given funerals because it takes away from all the good stuff like more shirtless makeout sessions. I sometimes imagine the writers wondering what’s wrong with fans who keep asking for funerals when they are willing to give them more hot actors each season.
Characters are paired together just so viewers can see them flirt and be lovey-dovey with each other. This year along with Stiles and Malia, Derek and Braeden were paired up and promoted as the hot new couple, ignoring the fact that Jeff Davis took an amazing female POC and decreased her role to a mere love interest. I guess they looked hot to the writers and that’s all that mattered to them. Let’s not mention that those two only said a few lines to each other before jumping into bed, because that’s obviously how relationships work especially when a mercenary is involved.
I mean if a 13 year old Malia can have sex with Stiles in the basement of a mental asylum then Derek hooking up with Brae is…to imitate Stiles “Progress!”
In the end, Teen Wolf is a show that has a confusing canon, not enough character development, new characters that don’t serve any purpose, no LGBT representation, a fanbase that’s too smart for the show, and TPTB that want to act as if everything is awesome.
I’m not saying that the loss in viewership is only because of the online fandom. If casual viewers are leaving the show and noticing some of the things mentioned above, then you can imagine how annoyed the fandom is when they watch Teen Wolf with a critical eye.
Teen Wolf will be airing episode 10 just before the VMA’s on Sunday the 24th of August. Is it a strategy to get more viewers for a show that is on a decline?
Why do you think Teen Wolf is losing viewers? Where did it all go wrong? Are casual viewers not interested anymore? Let us know in the comments!
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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