Clearing Up Some Misconceptions In the Teen Wolf Fandom With Jase Peeples

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It’s no surprise that Teen Wolf Season 4 has taken a toll on a lot of fans. Ever since promotion for the new season started, it got the fandom to react. A large portion of the fandom has become critical of the show and the PR team behind it. This tension has led to the creation of a lot of posts on this site. Recently, The Advocate’s interview caused a stir.

I wrote a counter-piece to the interview by Jase Peeples (Entertainment Editor – The Advocate) where the cast talked about LGBT representation in Teen Wolf. We were contacted by the author in hopes of doing a follow-up, but then an Op-ed was posted on their site. Said post also made a lot of readers and fans question the content, and a lot of them referred to it as ‘damage control’. I got the opportunity to ask Jase Peeples some questions and I hope some of the misconceptions in the fandom are cleared once you finish reading.

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Some readers/fans have said that you deleted tweets promoting the Teen Wolf interview when it started to get backlash, and that the current piece is just ‘damage control’.

Jase: I was getting a lot of nasty tweets that day and to try to minimize that I removed 2 tweets from my personal account. The tweets from The Advocate’s account sharing the list of quotes from the cast were never touched. Also, the first list of quotes we published was just that: a list of quotes, not a piece about my personal opinion on the show. When I sat down to talk with the cast I asked each of them to weigh in on the show’s history of queer characters and those were the answers they gave me.

After seeing the fan reaction, I did reach out to MTV to do a follow up, but it wasn’t possible to schedule at the time, as the cast and producers were not available. So, I thought it best to follow up with an opinion piece to share my own thoughts on the show’s positive points in LGBT representation and recent missteps.

Also, I don’t believe that any of the cast members were trying to claim the show is an “LGBT gift” when we spoke, but that they were happy to be on a series that treated gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in a positive light. I know that many fans, including me, wish the LGBT characters had more visibility on the show. However, the straight characters on the show never treat the gay characters any differently than anyone else, and, regardless of how much screen time they get, that’s always a step in the right direction for furthering queer visibility on TV.  In my personal opinion, images of straight people treating LGBT people in the way they do on Teen Wolf is a positive image for young people to see. In addition to providing LGBT youth with characters that allow them to see a part of themselves reflected on TV, young straight people also need to see examples of young straight characters treating LGBT people in positive ways, and I give Teen Wolf a lot of credit for sending that message loud and clear.

You mentioned that Sterek and idea of bi-Stiles were promoted during the starting seasons. Do you think the PR for Teen Wolf has changed in a manner where any mention of the main cast being gay/bi etc (from the fans) is to be ignored?

Jase: This is tricky because it’s hard to say what any PR team’s strategy is unless you’re a part it, or privy to information about it. From my own point of view, I can say that there was a lot of homoeroticism in the first two seasons. I can see how that, coupled with the show’s subtext could lead fans to perceive routes where many characters could eventually hook up, (even Scott and Stiles in that first season).

However, “Sterek” is the pairing fans gravitated to most, and perhaps the team simply1425556_10151729274387742_1601431213_n thought it would be fun to capitalize on that. In all fairness, I don’t think they realized they’d caught a tiger by the tail when they did that. After all, a series commenting on its own gay slash/shipping segment of fandom had never been done like that before. It’s obvious that they’ve changed their approach on this, but who knows exactly why. Perhaps they felt that the first promo with “Sterek” came across as an official statement or tease about the characters’ storyline – I know that’s how it came across to some fans – and perhaps they didn’t want to do that. Maybe one of the actors grew uncomfortable, or just got tired of “Sterek”, or perhaps it was any number of other reasons.

Many readers/fans said that the Teen Wolf interview (considering the timing of it) was a ‘PR’ move to get LGBT+ viewers to tune in for the finale. However, the finale was the lowest rated episode, even compared to Season 1. Do you think not giving LGBT+ fans what they want had an effect?

Jase: When I spoke with the cast only a few episodes of season 4 had aired, which was also when I wrote it up. It was my choice to hold the interview until the finale because I thought it would be a stronger anchor than just another random episode, and I thought it would give Mason’s storyline time to develop. But that was not the way things unfolded, and the timing was really unfortunate.

As for the finale ratings… Teen Wolf has gone through a lot of change over the past year. I’m sure there are many factors affecting the audience and I think it’s safe to assume that some of the fans who have stepped away have done so because they’re frustrated with the development – or lack of development – of the LGBT characters on the show.

“It may not be time to put down the wolf pack just yet.” Do you think the show has lost its LGBT+ fans or is there still time for the show to make a peace offering?

Jase: Yes, there’s always a chance to include greater LGBT visibility in any ongoing series. Whether or not that would bring back any fans is another question.

Some readers/fans say that Jeff making Teen Wolf’s story occur in a non-homophobic world is an excuse to keep queer characters in the background. Any thoughts?

I think Jeff’s concept of trying to create a show where there’s no homophobia is a good one, and we’ve seen it work in different ways on other shows. For example, there’s no racism in Star Trek – well, maybe between alien species, but not in the way we know it today. That was a groundbreaking concept in the 1960s when the original show aired. However, racism in the real world at that time was very much alive and well – and still is today. That doesn’t mean that seeing a show that takes place in a racism-free utopia isn’t still a powerful message. If anything it reinforces a need to hear that message and see such images more often.10291073_297716967078778_2685637206827968_n

I think we also have to keep in mind that even background characters can leave lasting impressions on young people from all walks of life. The visibility that has been shown on Teen Wolf and the way its straight characters treat LGBT people will affect a young 13-year-old struggling with their identity much differently than a person who is already comfortable with their sexuality and is looking for something more. Also, a young straight person who might have bullied LGBT youth in the past might change their perception after seeing the example of a character they admire treat a queer character with respect.

Take, for example, the end of the animated film Paranorman, where one of the movie’s main characters reveals he has a boyfriend. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but the casual way in which that line is delivered – in a movie aimed at a very young audience – makes it a powerful step forward for LGBT visibility in entertainment. A viewer in their 20s or 30s may not think of it as a big deal, but what about the 5-year-olds who watch that same moment? The potential effect is something far greater.

That being said, it’s important that we keep pushing for greater diversity on TV in all forms, including LGBT diversity. Unfortunately, Teen Wolf hasn’t met the expectations of many queer positive fans – and I’d include myself among them. I was surprised to see that a show which had been increasing its queer content over time made such a huge shift during its most recent season. However, I don’t think that makes the stand-out moments we’ve gotten in the past any less important, but it does make the disappointment that much greater because the show had such potential to really push the envelope. I’m hopeful that we’ll get the chance to see more of that potential realized in the upcoming season in one form or another.

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I understand where Jase Peeples is coming from, and I appreciate the fact he was willing to clear up some things in the Teen Wolf fandom with respect to the pieces he wrote. I hope the answers he gave to the questions I asked have helped a lot of you clear up some misconceptions.

Feel free to share your opinions with us! We love to hear from you all!

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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About the author

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

Comments

  1. I’m sorry I still cry BS on this. If this writer wants to heap praise on TW et al for just refusing to depict LGBT representation negatively that is a HUGE cop out. We need proper, front-stage equal representation. We pay taxes, we vote, we are active in supporting many cross-community activities (ie PTAs, school meets, jury service etc) so why cant we have that commitment to everyday life reflected on TV? We are valuable & worthwhile members of society and deserve to be treated & represented as such.

  2. Sorry guys, usually I’m with you but everything about this is just wrong. Also, I don’t think there are misconceptions to clear up, the situation is pretty easy to read.
    Mr. Peeples fails to point out most of the important things:
    – talks about Sterek but doesn’t mention how much it’s been used for promotion and votes just to be erased and censored later, or about Posey’s insults.
    – talks about an actor perhaps growing tired of uncomfortable, but fails to point out that after using your own fandom like that you at least own them some respect, so you have to put your big pants on and deal with it.
    – talks about the fact that a little representation is still good and important, but fails in pointing out how much Jeff Davis and MTV had played on this to win free media attention and promote the show.
    The simple problem is that Teen Wolf spent YEARS claiming to be DIFFERENT and GROUNDBREAKING but it’s the exact opposite.
    This is just pandering to the show, nothing more. Damage control of damage control.

  3. “…Maybe one of the actors grew uncomfortable, or just got tired of “Sterek” …”
    DUDE! Have you see Mr Hoechlin and Mr. O’Brien?
    I mean, really?
    wait, did you talk abt the lead character of TeenWolf who called us “Weird, Twisted and Bizzare” ? oh…

  4. I’ve seen articles similar to this one on quite a few sites after fans got rightly pissed off about how they’ve been treated by Teen Wolf PR in general and about many of the criticisms they bring up about the show. I can’t help but think while reading it that it’s like someone coming up to you and punching you in the face for no reason, and after expressing anger and hurt over being punched they tell you they’re sorry that them punching you upset you, rather than just being sorry for punching you. It’s just BS.

  5. The frightening part of these comments is that Jase Peeples seems to sincerely believe them. Teen Wolf treats their queer characters as interchangeable props. Caitlin had her sexual identity rewritten to prop up Stiles’ heterosexuality. Danny literally disappears with the explanation that his story had nothing left to offer once Ethan left and Mason was created so that the show could claim it’s queer cred.

    The only lesson Teen Wolf is teaching young LGBT people out there is that they’re window dressing at best, subject to replacement or alteration at any time and no one will ever question it. Hell, they’ll even have Jase Peeples and the Advocate to Uncle Tom it for them!

    1. Let me clarify what I meant… I’m not trying to say that TW is the best rep of LGBT people on TV. Far from it. I was simply trying to point out that for some young people it has been a positive thing at one point or another. I’ve been in the audience at a few panels in the past where I’ve heard young people tell the cast as much. Still, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t right when they say that the show’s LGBT characters are painfully underdeveloped. That’s true as well and it does ring false when a show that prides itself on its queer appeal doesn’t have a main LGBT character 4 seasons in. But I think it’s extreme for anyone to claim the show is “hurting kids.”

    2. Also, I don’t look at Caitlin’s development as a bisexual character as a bad thing. Bisexual people are painfully underrepresented in the media and it’s awesome that tidbit was included. Yes, she’s barely there, and I’m not trying to say Teen Wolf deserves a parade for including a bi character in one scene, but I don’t look at that as a negative.

  6. Interesting interview, and I appreciate hearing Jase Peeples’ explanation.

    I would want to ask him a couple of follow-up questions, though. 1 – Since a) he held onto this article through much of S4 to release it on the day of the finale, and b) it was evident by that time that Teen Wolf had taken several steps backwards on its previous representation, why didn’t Mr. Peeples at least include a comment or disclaimer acknowledging that fact? His original interview looked like nothing more than a bunch of sound-bytes collected by someone who had never seen the show.

    And 2 – I’d want to know his answer to why no actors who played major LGBTQ characters on the show were interviewed for his article. The obvious answer, of course, is that there aren’t any. But if the show was touting its great representation, couldn’t they have made Khylin available to be interviewed? Or (gasp) maybe even Keahu, if they’re willing to admit his character ever existed? An article about a show’s LGBTQ+ representation that interviews eight actors – none of whom play LGBTQ+ characters – may be missing something.

    1. I’d like Ellery’s follow up questions asked also.

      Meanwhile, I disagree with one of Peeples statements: LGBTQ characters being nothing more than tokens or (in Danny’s case for Season 3) love interests isn’t respectful even if insults aren’t being hurled at the characters. Token minorities are just marketing tools.

      In contrast, the Paranorman character (Mitch?) was a fleshed out character, not just a token/love interest. Mitch’s characterization, Mitch not being just a romantic interest/plot device, and the fact that Mitch’s (plot irrelevant) sexuality wasn’t waved like a flag ASAP are why Mitch won’t be seen as a token LGBTQ character and why his lines regarding his boyfriend will have weight when it comes to helping children and teens realize that it is perfectly normal for sexual preferences to fall on a spectrum.

      1. For me Mitch was an amazing character on Paranorman…i think that’s what a lot of us want when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation on Tv…Whenever a gay character is to come on TW, the PR promotes only his/her sexuality, and i find that offensive, as if they are saying if you are gay, the only thing important about you is that ‘You are gay’ we don’t care about anything else that you might have, know to do…i know Jase thinks TW is helping kids, but i don’t see anything that can be considered helpful , especially after S2….all i see is ‘Yes, you are gay, good for you. But don’t think you will ever be part of the hetero main team that gets to have a significance on the plot’…if you gay,m stay on the sideline or disappear in the background and look at straight characters make out

        1. You find token representation offensive because it’s an insult to your intelligence as a consumer and an insult to the minority. Danny was important to TPTB (fans still love him) only when he could be Jackson’s gay BFF as a way of saying “Jackson isn’t 100% horrible cause he has a friend” or as the love interest of Ethan (Danny is now an honorary woman). Now they have Mason for that so Danny is gone without any explanation. I guess that it would have been too hard for Liam to meet and like and become friends with Danny?

          If anything, TW is hurting kids in their process of recognizing their own sexuality. Gay characters are discardable and not missed by other characters if they disappear in the world of Teen Wolf and, in the real world, the show runners all the cast to verbally insult people who vocally support two characters being bisexual and in a relationship.

        2. There were stand out moments in season 3. Danny and Ethan’s relationship – though not developed as well as the others on the show – did have some nice moments. I also think that Ethan was a kick-ass gay character. I agree with other fans that it sucks he was written off the show at the end of season 3, but Ethan was still a bad-ass wolf who could go claw-to-claw with any of the others. In my opinion, Ethan was the strongest LGBT character that has been on the show to date.

          1. I’ll agree with Ethan being the strongest LGBT character in terms of development. But he met the typical fate of a token minority: he disappeared with no consequence to other characters and no explanation for fans.

            My head cannon is that Peter Hale killed him, cooked him, and served him at a Beacon Hills festival as BBQ for a bogus charity (all proceeds benefitting Peter Hale, of course).

            1. nooo werewolves at teen wolf suck with killing. Peter slashed Kate throat – she is alive; Deucalion slashed Breaden’s (or whatever her name) gullet – she is PERFECTLY ok and even human despite thst Deuc was an alpha and all that dismiss the main little detail that you will be DEAD if someone slash your thrat 😉

              About this article, well its clearly a damage-control and for me nothing interenting, or giving any reason to even think of watching TW any longer. My only hope is that kids will learn nothing from TW, cause the perspective they might learn something is terrifying. Why? Easy…for me only things kids may learn from TW are: that abusive relationships and rapes are totally ok until you will “kiss” someone or just pretend nothing happened. Which is truly disgusting for me. The other think kids will see is, if you are gay you need to hide in the shadows and only speak to other people through your sexuality like: ‘hi I’m gay’. So definitelly TW and learning anyone anything is one no, no. Seriously maybe TW had potential but creators/PR/MTV made so many bad decisions that one could probably write a book just “how to not write the show”. At least I see it that way.

    2. Ellery,none of the actors that played the LGBT characters were available when I spoke with the cast. I did ask MTV for the chance to speak with Keahu and he wasn’t available.

      Also, you are correct that a disclaimer might have helped if I had let people know that the interview had taken place before the first half of season 4 had aired.

      1. Thank you for your response, Jase. I appreciate that you’re taking the time to address some of the concerns we’ve had about this.

  7. I am a huge Sterek fan and I feel that because of how popular the fandom is for Sterek, and all the other LGBT ships, that they purposely don’t put those people together in a scene because they don’t want to emphasize it more and give the fans hope that it will happen on the show. They really misled a lot of people with the whole Sterek thing, especially because in the 4th season, Derek and Stiles aren’t really in any scenes together and it feels like they did that on purpose and it felt forced. It feels like a big “f” you to the fans, in my opinion.

    1. I agree with what Jase said…how the show took the tiger by the tail and didn’t realize it when it was too late…they used Sterek for promotion…THAT IS A FACT!…but then the show got big and having two main characters falling for each other was suddenly a big no and that’s what we have been seeing since the start of 3B…and now if you are a Sterek fan or say anything that’s critical of the show you are suddenly labeled as ‘Not a fan’ or ‘Crazy Sterek shipper’…the fact that don’t let Stiles and Derek share scenes together and make and excuse that it’s all cos of the plot has hurt a lot feelings and i think TW hit itself on the foot when it started to do that

    2. I get that people feel ripped off because of the way the shipping fandom was pandered to when they needed a boost and then ignored. It’s a valid point.

    3. I agree with Kirsten about putting to characters who have obvious chemistry together in minimal scenes just didn’t seem right. It was also obvious in all recent events how much they tried to keep Hoechlin & O’Brien away from each other. Unless they wanted to stir up the Sterek/Hobrien frenzy to keep fans watching. Ratings tell the story and unfortunately Sterek will never happen which is sad cause it would put the show on the map and give good ratings.

  8. One question I have for Mr. Peeples is why The Advocate had comments turned off for his Op-Ed piece. I checked out half a dozen other Op-Ed articles and all of them had comments. I could guess the reason, but I’d really like to know what their thinking was in making that decision.

    As for the infamous 2012 Sterek/Hobrien video, remember it was shot on the same boat and the same time as Tyler/Crystal and Colton/Holland shot their videos to try and get support for Scott/Allison and Jackson/Lydia to be nominated for the 2012 Teen Choice Awards for Best Couple. There was a time when it appeared that MTV/TW treated Stiles and Derek as a potential couple, with the same attitude they had for the existing couples on the show; much in the same way the characters on the show interact with the few LGBTQ characters they interact with.

    I’ll just leave you with the closing paragraph to a 2012 article at The Daily Dot entitled “Tumblr in a tizzy after Teen Wolf skipped at Teen Choice Awards” – “As for MTV, they seemed to have a clear idea of the kind of mass-market potential—and the power—that resided in Teen Wolf’s slash fanbase. When questioned about whether TW fans should direct their outrage at the TCA for overlooking the show’s category, the network quipped, “Unleash the beast”.”

    MTV should be rightly worried. They poked, teased, tormented and attempted to starve the beast – and now it’s unleashing its anger at them. It’s such a shame too because they could have had it all and we would have stood with them all the way. Their proud legion of fans providing free advertising and support through social media, winning them audience awards and magazine covers and shining the spotlight on the little show that could. However, because of their social media/public relations debacle when this slice of pop culture history is written, TW will be noted as nothing more than a cautionary tale for show runners to come.

    1. Will it open doors for more LBGT+ characters in future shows? who knows…i guess what other showrunners will c from the debacle that is Teen Wolf is: You can always put in homoerotic subtext between male/male and female/female characters, you need that to give the show a boost in the fandom, but don’t go over board with it like TW did if you aren’t going to give fans the pairing in the end….Remember SuperNatural? Destiel subtext is still there, the fandom reacts (positively as well as negatively) but they still watch cos they haven’t stopped giving Dean and Castiel scenes together, and they show doesn’t go patting themselves on the back for the wonderful LGBT+ work the show has done…I think the thing that made a lot of people in TW fandom upset is: We are great at gay character representation when in reality it’s a negative ‘0’, and no more scenes for Stiles and Derek unless it’s the premiere or finale of the show cos we want to throw a bone to the starved Sterek shippers…other show runners might learn something from this but i think it won’t really translate to more shows having main LGBT+….but still, fingers crossed!

    2. The comments were never turned off on the op-ed I wrote. There are currently several on there now. Perhaps they weren’t loading at the time you looked, or you were on a device that was having trouble loading them at the time. 🙂

  9. I think there are ways of explaining Davis’ choices and the decisions made by the PR, but Peeples’ interview is clumsily worded and comes off as the statement of an apologist.

  10. I’m sorry, but this Jase Peeples is a moron. He is doing so much backpedaling here, I just cannot stand it. There isn’t really any misconceptions look into. It’s quite simple. Jeff and his team have queerbaited, and refuse to show prominent queer characters in their show. I don’t understand how Jase can sit here and throw us some cheap, fake sympathy all because he didn’t like negative tweets being sent his way.

    1. I actually think you shot yourself in the foot with this even more. People know this is damage control of damage control and they wont be happy you throw around, what is, in my limited opinion, excuses for mtvTW/jeff/TWpr that barely hold together anymore.

      They didn’t queerbait so much as proceed to eliminate every posible and actual non-straight posibilities from the main group. Danny gone forever, Stiles and Derek have now woman-shaped ”no-homo/bi” signs following (and ruining all 4 characters in the process) them…

      The thing is, TW was never and, never will after this season, high quality enough to attract a more maintream, less critical/LGTB audience to reemplaze those priously loyal fast they are shooing away. This last season was horrible in most senses, The Boringfactor plot was a lot of monsters of the week with a ridiculous, random and overarching resolution, to the point I consider it pure filler. And then it comes the 2 final chapters. ”Meh”, ”not worth my time” and ”ridiculous and mediocre” are all descriptions to descrive it. Nothing changed except we had some obvious re-filmed Sterek interactions that still managed to outshine most Stalia/Draeden shots in the season.

      Cole is right. We arent some innocent 15y old teen who can be bought with fake sympathy and pretty words. You are making the mistake Jeff did and does. You cant just understimate our intelligence and think we will buy it. And if that’s not the case and you are actually honest, then: too little too late.

    2. Personal attacks are against site policy so if you could refrain from calling people ‘morons’ it’d be appreciated. Thank you.

      https://thegeekiary.com/policies

      “Disagreement is fine, but please do not be cruel, hurtful, rude, or downright mean towards other community members. Personal attacks are not allowed. Stay on topic. If you can’t engaged in civil discourse do not engage at all.”

      -Admin Angel

  11. /whispers/ calling someone moron on here is a personal attack? Wow, if that’s a personal attack, what is it called when people get told on a daily basis to kill themselves just for shipping Sterek (which has gotten so so much worse since Jeff Davis/TW PR/actors have started acting so much colder toward the fans) I mean, does anyone remember the influx of death threats that came after Posey’s ‘bizarre weird and twisted’ interview? The show runners need to realize that their sudden, obvious disdain toward the shippers isn’t just making them mad or upset, it’s literally encouraging people to harass us to the point people have been fled their personal blogs because of it.

    1. Yes, calling people names is a personal attack. And if someone came onto our website and told someone to kill themselves, that’d also be a personal attack and a huge trigger for a lot of people and would be deleted immediately. We wouldn’t tolerate either behavior here, but something that was triggery wouldn’t even get a warning before being deleted. As I am not in charge of Tumblr or people’s personal inboxes, though, I can’t regulate what is sent on that particular website. Sorry about that.

      -Admin Angel

  12. I absolutely love how Jase told us how its basically the fans fault for making a huge deal out of Sterek and doesn’t even bother to say how the TW PR and MTV basically led us to believe that Sterek had a chance to be canon. (Note the sarcasm)

    1. Actually, that’s not what I said at all, and I did mention it not only in my op-ed on Advocate.com but in this very comments section.

  13. “Maybe one of the actors grew uncomfortable, or just got tired of ‘Sterek'” Sigh. I wish it were just Tyler Posey, but I worry this is Dylan O’Brien. I became a huge fan of his through Teen Wolf, and I would be very disappointed if he were the one who copped out on bi Stiles and Sterek. How amazing it would have been if the show had done these storylines at its previous level of quality.

    To me the character of Stiles has gone from his calling card to a real stain on his reputation. Unless S5 were to make a radical reversal, which I don’t believe it will. The no homo-ing is completely intentional, and it’s amazing they’re trying not only to get away with it but to earn praise at the same time.

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