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 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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37 thoughts on “Jeff Davis on Malia “If she’s good enough for Scott and Stiles, hopefully the fans will like her, too”… Wait! What?”
I’ve never been good at articulating my thoughts so this will probably be a jumbled mess. And someone else will most likely come along and say it much better than I ever could.
There are a multitude of reasons the character of Malia is being met with a resistance from fandom and it’s a shame they’re all being lumped together as complaints from “butthurt shippers.” While I think Sterek fans have a legitimate beef with this pairing mainly because it shows how easily het couples can be thrown together and accepted even after such little (and offensive) development, most of the reasons for the dislike of Malia stem from the awful writing and the unfairly quick promotion of Shelley to series’ regular over some of the more seasoned actors on the show. It definitely doesn’t help that Teen Wolf’s PR machine will not shut up about her even at the expense of the core four characters. Seriously, it’s been a non-stop bombardment of how awesome/cute/funny/perfect Malia will be and how much we’re just gonna LOVE her. If I didn’t already dislike her, that PR campaign would’ve sealed the deal.
Writing-wise, you’ve pretty much already pointed out the issues. She should be feral after spending most of her life as a wild animal, or at least mentally 8. But that’s completely glossed over. She shouldn’t be having sex in the basement of a mental asylum with a boy who’s freaking possessed. She shouldn’t even understand sexual urges! Jeff’s messy hand-waving of these issues is just rage-inducing. And from the spoilers for season four it sounds like they’re going to use her “wildness” only when it’s convenient. She’ll have moments where she won’t know how to use a phone or will talk without a filter and it’ll be “Ohohoho~ She used to be a coyote! She’s still got some wildness in her~” but she won’t have issues sleeping with Stiles or attending high school. I also don’t think the immediate acceptance of her into the pack is doing her any favors. No one liked the acceptance of the twins into the fold either (RIP Boyd). “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.” Ummm, what about Derek? They weren’t accepting of him in season one or two and parts of three (though he was an asshole). And that was /before/ Beacon Hills filled up with all kinds of supernatural creatures and they really needed to wary of newcomers. After everything they’ve been through they shouldn’t let an outsider within ten feet of them until they’ve done a full background check and sprayed them with mountain ash or mistletoe or something.
I don’t think I even have to say anything about Stalia. The fact that they have a “connection,” are each other’s “anchors,” protect each other, and as Shelley put it, “mates” after One. Single. Episode. of actual interaction pretty much says it all.
I think one of the biggest reasons Malia is so disliked across the board is because she’s the personification of everything that’s been going wrong in Teen Wolf since season 3 started. Awful, illogical, OFFENSIVE (*cough*EchoHouse*cough*) writing, plot holes galore, queerbaiting, Jeff’s inability to let a plotline go once the actor has left… Honestly, everything about her character is just an illogical, infuriating mess. I’m quite glad I’m not watching the show anymore. I don’t think I could handle actually seeing her on-screen every Monday. I’d just be yelling at my TV: “You don’t make ANY sense! Oh my God! Stop being sexual! YOU’RE EIGHT, FFS.” Lol.
On a slightly-related note: I also feel like my impression of Talia lessened with the news of Malia. Presumably, she took away the memory of Peter having a kid in order to protect the child, which ok. He’s a psychopath. But then WHY ON EARTH WAS SHE LETTING HER OWN CHILDREN BE AROUND HIM? If he was ok-enough to hang out with her kids, then she’s quite awful for taking away the knowledge that he had a daughter (or son in case some of the other theories are right). Jeff obviously didn’t think of the repercussions of this kind of thing. It’s a consent issue so not very surprising.
People saying that some fans don’t like Malia just cos they are hurt shippers is the weakest argument in my opinion…people who say such things: are targeting a part of the fandom, and come across as ignorant of the things the fans see wrong with Malia…some of which i’ve mentioned in the post, and are things that don’t have anything to do with Malia coming between a ship
introducing Malia as just an LI, and ‘feral only when convenient’ character looks like very weak writing to me…it’s not as if feral people haven’t been seen in other media…i remember supernatural having an episode about a feral female werewolf…and even Tarzan and Mowgli came across as more feral compared to what Jeff did with Malia
And yes, some fans don’t like what the PR team did…fans ‘know’ about Malia from what they saw in 3B, i don’t think many of them want to know how perfect she, a newcomer, compared to characters that deserve more (in fan opinion, cos clearly Jeff doesn’t think like this) such as Danny…why bother revealing he knew about werewolves if he still isn’t going to play any role
Shelly’s new interview about finding her mate in Stiles was something i wasn’t expecting..didn’t Jeff say no to the ‘mate’ thing way back when he knew about Sterek? an besides the way they seem to be promoting Malia is kind of similar to what they did with Jennifer even when 3A had started and more than half the fandom knew she was the Darach…i think Jeff wants to kind of ‘reboot’ her character after Crystal left, but it might not stick with some fans
as for Scott and Stiles welcoming newcomers…why wasn’t Derek met with such warmth even in S2…more or less, Jeff is coming across as the kind of writer who have a mindset of: I want to tell ‘this’ story, so just watch it and ignore the changes i’ve made even if they contradict my previous story or don’t make sense
I, as an author myself, appreciate some sort of ‘rules’ even if it’s a fictional world…kind of limits that help make the story make more sense
There is a lot of ableism in your arguments regarding Malia. “She should be mentally 8” is ableist. What is mental age? And why would she be mentally 8 after spending 8 years in the woods as a coyote? You’re assuming that once she turned into a coyote she became incapable of any rational thought, which was proven false because she remembered what happened to her family to the point where she kept her sisters doll at the car wreck as some sort of memorial. But again, why would she be mentally 8? This is a girl who spent her time in the woods learning to survive and adapt as an animal, probably enduring some of the harshest conditions. Why would she still be mentally 8? Why would she still see the world the same way that an 8 year old child does after experiencing all of that? This argument makes absolutely no sense to me, because one would think even coyotes mature and develop, not to mention a were-coyote which is some other supernatural perks, but the fandom keeps insisting that she should be “mentally 8.”
And this is why people assume that the hatred of her is ship based because people don’t even bother to get their facts right when they want to talk down about Malia’s character. You want to talk about how illogical everything with her and Stiles is, at least come with facts. Not interpretation of things that aren’t based in canon. Stiles was not possessed when he and Malia hooked up, we know this because we saw when the nogitsune took over him at the end of the episode. I know certain fans like to pretend he was possessed so they can get all indignant and “angry” on his behalf and act the scene was so much worse than it was, but the fact remains that he was NOT possessed. “She shouldn’t know what sex is”? Really? Animals know what sex is, because lbr its instinctual and you don’t need to understand sexual urges to feel them. I think a lot of of what you’re saying is kind of illogical, and or simply not true.
Malia was not introduced as a love interest. She was introduced as a girl who killed her family from a shift and lived in the woods for 8 years. She just also happened to hook up with Stiles but funny how the fandom forgets that part.
IDC the show’s creators are allowed to be excited for her character and its nothing at the “expense” of anyone else. We’ve gotten tons of spoilers about other characters, but people choose to pretend that the show is only talking about Malia. Any slight mention of her and the fandom blows it out of proportion. She appears in the trailer for .2 seconds and the fandom has a collective meltdown, jeff mentions her ONCE at a con and suddenly everyone is pretending like all the writers do is talk about Malia 24/7. so I don’t think the PR is the problem, the fandom and their irrational hatred is the issue here.
“why would she be mentally 8 after spending 8 years in the woods as a coyote?”
Are you for real? Because if this is your reasoning ability you have a major problem.
If you honestly to God think that growing up as a coyote chasing rabbits and licking your genital organ clean can develop personality, mental ability and intellicence – other that an animalistic one – you seriously have a problem.
Try to read a book or two about feral children and educate yourself to a critical reasoning.
And Stiles WAS possessed at the moment, that’s why he was in the E.H. in the first place. Possessed and under medical drugs (both from Morrell and the other guy).
Also, if you didn’t notice the way they pushed Malia, you surely didn’t paid enough attention.
I have no problem with people liking Malia per se, but people who justify such bad wrinting and have zero critical sense ARE a problem and the main reason why a PROFESSIONAL AUTHOR can get away with such a poorly written plot.
Congrats, you’re Jeff Davis’ perfect audiece.
Um no he was in full control if his person when he was with Malia I don’t like the poor writing if stalia, but all of Josie arguments seem valid
He was under heavy medication. The kind that people can’t sign important papers and make decisions legally because they can’t consent.
Did anyone yet mention that he was at least under very heavy mental strain and thought he was going insane? Whether or not the Nogitsune was pulling the strings at the time, Stiles wasn’t exactly in the right state of mind at the time even without medication.
I’m sorry I think there is no basis for hating Malia. And to be honest I think it has more to do with fandoms and ships than you are willing to admit. Are there flaws in the writing and the way the creators have dealt with her story-line? Yes absolutely. But the hate the character and the ACTRESS is receiving is unwarranted and its based primarily on shipping because the fandom is full of immature people who are so bitter that their ships may not happen and in the case of Sterek will never happen that they hate anything they deem a threat–and unfortunately that’s Malia right now. No one is gonna convince me that this is not the case. If Malia was not hooking up with a fan favorite who is one half of two of the more popular ships in the fandom, most of the people hating her character for being “poorly written” would not even care.
I don’t think the writing for Kira was without its flaws either. One minute she knew nothing about the supernatural or fighting, and the next she was swinging her katana all bad-ass like she had been doing it all her life. Even though she had just gotten it. No one cares about whether or not Kira’s writing was believable or not because she’s not a love interest for Stiles or Derek. I love Kira but lbr, her being great with a sword kinda happened over night and was mostly done for plot convenience. (Hell even Meagan Tandy got hate from fans once they realized she’d be derek’s love interests.)
but okay. lets just say for the sake of argument that the problem was with Malia’s writing and not the ships. Why hate the character so much? Why so against the character that they want her killed off, and are sending hate to the actress (who has absolutely no say in the writing decisions?) I’m sorry that’s just not the kind of reaction you have to something you’re simply not feeling. There are a lot of writing decisions that I do not like and simply don’t care for on teen wolf regarding some characters or story-lines. I’ve never once felt any kind of burning hatred towards the character because of writing decisions that I don’t agree with (not saying that my feelings or reactions are the only valid ones) but I don’t get the anger and burning hatred for something you simply aren’t feeling. You’re not feeling Malia and her characterization? Cool. that’s totally fine, understandable even, no one can fault you for it. But the non-stop hate the character is receiving (as well as the actress, because I will never let you all forget that the actress is also receiving hate) seems a lot more personal than “I’m not feeling the way her character is written.” its the burning hatred from bitter angry shippers who felt entitled to certain ships (and I’m including stydia fans here as well) and are now pissed because it looks like their ships may not happen. That’s where most of this anger is coming from, and the “poorly written” stuff (while does have some merit) is mostly just an excuse used to make themselves seem less petty about it. But the underlying reason remains. Ships. Fandom is full of immature/problematic people. it’s common for female characters to be hated because of ships, none of this is new.
I don’t believe Jeff Davis and the crew is telling us how to feel about Malia. I think they’re sharing their excitement for a character that they wrote, as well as a new addition to their cast/family. Of course he hopes/wants everyone to embrace the character since she’s going to be part of the pack and Shelley is now a regular, that’s not the same thing as telling you how to feel about her.
Honestly, I think people need to hold off on their “opinions” because while Malia’s characterization seemed a bit wonky in 3b, we’ve seen this character for all of 2 minutes. We don’t know much about her or what the writers have in store for her. It seems pointless to make assumptions at this point.
Sorry, just because you feel like she is being shaded by some immature “shippers” doesn’t mean “there is no basis for hating Malia.” Just because you like Malia doesn’t mean your opinion is more or less valid than someone else’s, nor does it mean people should “hold off on their opinions.” You think all the Malia hate stems from shipping bias? You think people can’t be objective about Malia if they enjoy a certain ship? Well, you’ve demonstrated that you can’t be objective about her either.
You deflect the conversation about the legitimate criticisms of Malia’s character by saying things like, “people are bitter about their ships,” or “the character and the actress are getting so much hate,” or “no one’s complaining about Kira.” And then you throw out buzzwords like “ableism” to vindicate your rhetoric. Are those things issues? Yes. But they’re separate from the issue at hand. You want to talk about those things? Write an article about fandom problems. Write an article about how you think people who enjoy ships can’t perform objective critiques of a narrative. I’m sure that’ll go over well with a lot of fandom journalists out there. Fandom problems are not the same as writing, production, and PR problems, and this article is about the latter.
Fans, which include shippers and non-shippers alike, react poorly to bad writing. There’s no need to rehash all the writing inconsistencies with Malia in this comment, because the article has done a superb job of addressing them already. Judging from all the S4 spoilers and interviews that had been released so far, Malia looks to be another female character with kick-ass supernatural powers, a mysterious past, a long-lost relation to an already established character, an undeveloped but immediate romantic connection with a main character, and a whole bunch of people who love her and surround her with praise. Sounds like your typical Mary Sue to me. Does she have flaws? Maybe, but the “kinda feral sometimes” angle sounds like it’s only going to be played for coos and chuckles at this point. Does she have a massive amount of guilt? Sure, but is that a flaw? I can’t think of any flaws this character has to speak of. Could that change later as the season progresses? Of course. But a Mary Sue character is a form of bad writing that should be very familiar to many writers these days, especially genre writers like Jeff Davis. It’s a form of self-insertion fantasy. It’s the entire basis of why stories like Twilight are written.
Previously Jeff has tried to distance himself from association with that sort of genre writing. Why are he and his writers backtracking on this now and selling this “Twilight-esque” romance between Malia and Stiles like it’s a wonderful thing that everyone will love? Yes, of course some people are going to react badly to that. Are some people going to react worse than others because of various degrees of shipping bias? Yes, but that’s not new. Fans have been doing that for years. Jeff Davis isn’t new to writing. He should have known how to handle a proper build-up to Malia’s introduction, but he handled it poorly. And do people not know how basic human psychology works? People who dislike something are not automatically going to like it just because you tell them they will, much less if you tell them over and over again. It’s just going to make people dig their heels in more and be obstinate.
Is that fair to Malia’s character? No, but that’s human behavior. Some people are willing to overlook the flaws in the writing and give her and the show a chance. Some people are just fed up with the awful writing in this show, which has been going on for much longer than Malia’s been around. You may not agree with one of those reactions, but that doesn’t make either of them any less valid. Just because you think you’re mature by liking Malia doesn’t mean someone who dislikes Malia is bitter and immature. People are entitled to like or dislike a character for whatever reason they want. No, it doesn’t mean they should go around insulting the actors and actresses. But stop using “the actress is getting hate” and “people are bitter about their ships” as a reason to ignore legitimate criticisms about bad writing and belittle people who have problems with it.
I didn’t deflect anything. I admitted that the writing for her character is flawed, and I even STATED that it was understandable if people didn’t care for her character or didn’t like her. You’re the one who’s deflecting on the fact that the level of hate and vitriol that the fandom is spewing at the character and the ACTOR is uncalled for and is based on petty immature reasons like their ships. If you can actually sit here and pretend like ships aren’t a HUGE factor in the reason why Malia is hated then I can’t really take you seriously because I feel like you’re willfully ignoring it. there are fans who come out and say they hate her because of those reasons, and there are those who pretend its the “writing” that has them calling the actress all kinds of names and asking her to leave the show.
I never said that a person can’t ship sterek or stydia and have valid reasons for disliking Malia. but I’ve yet to read anything convincing, just a bunch of people oversimplifying and writing offensive ableist arguments that they’re passing off as “criticism.” I don’t even understand how anyone could legitimately hate a character so much, when we’ve hardly even seen her. Can you hate the way she’s been written thus far? Sure. Can you have legitimate concerns about where the show is going with her? Yes. Can you just have no interest in her what so ever? Yeah of course. However that’s only a small minority of people, majority of the hate I’ve seen directed at Malia and Shelley, are along the lines of… “She’s so pointless, she needs to die…She’s only Stile’s love interest, and I ship/ Sterek/Stydia etc… even going as far as telling the actress to quit her job.” In what world is that considered “having a problem with the writing,”
YOU LITERALLY HAVE PEOPLE TELLING AN ACTRESS TO QUIT HER JOB AND LEAVE THE SHOW!!! In what world is that considered just having a problem with the writing and not something more personal? Are you seriously telling me that having “problems with the writing” is legitimate cause for hating on someone who has literally no control or say in what her character does?
You’re trying to pretend like the fandom is so fed-up with bad writing but the fandom is usually content to ignore or move past things that don’t make sense or don’t add up. I’ve never seen them react to “bad writing” the way you’re suggesting this is. And suddenly after 4 seasons of this supposed “bad writing” Malia just happens to be the fandom’s breaking point? What a coincidence huh? It just so happens that a female character that is introduced that interferes with the fandom’s favorite ships just happens to be the breaking point for all of the pent up frustration about bad writing? How convenient.
No this is not just about bad writing, this is about ships and the fandoms tendency to be abhorrent towards female characters. Plain and simple. This fandom has always been entitled and always felt like the creators “owe” them certain things, and they never let go of that entitlement. This is every fandom, not just teen wolf, and they always throw a hissy fit about it. Fandom culture encourages misogyny and overall gross attitudes toward female characters. this is the same fandom that trended KillAllison. Remember? Despite the fact that a lot of the male characters have done a lot worse things than Allison could ever dream of. This is the same fandom.
Look have all the problems you want with Malia’s writing or lack thereof.. I don’t care. But don’t insult my intelligence by trying to convince me that this fandom’s problem is primarily her writing and not the fact that she’s going to be getting it on with one of their favorites. Yes there are problems with the writing, but that’s not the reason why so many people in the fandom hate her character and hate the actress who plays her. But go ahead and convince yourself that its the reason.
Pretty much everyone else here has given solid reasoning using facts and examples that do not rely on shipping feelings at all, yet you completely dismiss it as shipping bias. Your inability to consider other opinions is its own judgement. And let’s not even start on the fact that shipping is a legitimate (but different) way to judge a character/ship/writing/etc.
SORRY I REPLIED TO WRONG COMMENT
First off, please don’t capslock at me. It’s not necessary. It doesn’t get your point across any more effectively, and it only comes off as histrionic.
You directly contradict yourself. You say that people are allowed to dislike Malia’s character because of bad writing, but then you say later that everyone who complains about bad writing is being disingenuous, because they are secretly hateful of her for “getting between their ship.” So which is it? You generalize everyone who has a problem with the writing into a Catch-22 situation.
And yes, you did actually say that you think people should “hold off on their opinions” of her because she was only a “bit wonky.” So, what? Are people only allowed to form opinions when you say so?
I never said there wasn’t a problem with the behaviors of certain people in fandom. I said that fandom behavior is a separate issue from the problematic writing of Malia’s character and how that affects a fan’s perception of her, which is what this article is about. I said they’re two different conversations. Deliberately ignoring what this article is about to focus on jerky fan behaviors is deflecting, most likely because there’s a need to project blame onto those who are tangentially associated with the fans that behave badly.
But OK, you want to talk about fan behaviors? Let’s talk about fan behaviors.
As I stated earlier, there is a conversation that needs to be had about the awful way some shippers behave. Can fans get obssesively defensive about the pairings they ship? Yes. I’ve been in fandom for two decades. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. This is not a TW-isolated problem. Now does it happen more ofthen in younger fandoms like TW? Most likely. That’s because younger people don’t have the same perspective as adults do. For some reason, two fake people getting it on is really, really important to some fans. People who are more mature are able to put that behavior into perspective and distance themselves from it. But again, this is not a TW-isolated problem.
Nowhere in my previous response did I ever say that bad writing is a legitimate excuse to hate the actress. In fact, I said quite the opposite, so please don’t put words in my mouth. Yes, some terrible people do not know how to disassociate the actor from the character. Some people are awful and send hate to an actor or actress simply because their character is badly written or “gets in the way” of a ship. I do not condone or excuse this behavior. It is deplorable behavior. I never said otherwise. It’s a behavior that stems from obsession and disassociation from reality, not from shipping itself. And in Malia’s case, it’s exacerbated by the fact that her writing is bad. Do some people use that disingenuously as ammunition to villify her? Yes. But don’t go around saying that everyone who complains about the writing is secretly a “bitter shipper.” That’s disingenuous of you.
Is bad shipper behavior something that needs to get addressed? Yes. But you don’t go about addressing it by generalizing and villanizing everyone who participates in the shipping of a pair. Yelling at people, arbitrarily misapporpriating buzzwords like “misogyny” and “ableism” for rhetorical purposes, and hurling invectives doesn’t solve the problem. It just antagonizes people and causes them to shut you out. Taking it one step further by saying that only “a small minority of [these] people” act rationally and that no one in the fandom has ever complained about the writing before is hyperbolic and just plain false. It’s especially telling of an agenda to demonize an entire group of people that you dislike.
Do you know the entire fandom? Have you met all 2 million viewers of Teen Wolf? Perhaps it’s only a majority of the people you associate with that exhibit this problem. I have seen a lot of criticism written about this show, especially in it’s awful habit of killing off women (yes, that includes #KillAllison, which was awful) and persons of color. The people I associate with talk about that all the time. Try seaching for the Teen Wolf tag on the Daily Dot website, for starters. The people there are very critical of the writing and TPTB.
Are there reasons to dislike Malia’s character because of her poor writing? Yes. The entire article breaks it down very succintly, I think. But if you think those reasons are oversimiplified or wrong and have an easy explanation, then that’s fine. Please feel free to provide your own input on why you think the author’s points are incorrect. But please do not assume that all people who dislike Malia are “bitter shippers who don’t really care about bad writing.” That is simply not true.
I find it so frustrating that I’m not allowed to have reservations about Malia without someone assuming it’s because I’m an immature shipper. I freely admit I’m a Sterek fan, but that doesn’t mean I hate anyone who gets in their way. I adore Lydia, and I’m looking forward to Braeden’s return. The anti-shipper sentiment doesn’t hold up. It’s an unfairly dismissive and disrespectful generalization. I’m not a fan of Malia because her introduction thus far has done nothing to endear her to me. The article outlines most of the reasons for that more eloquently than I could. The actress’ own description of Malia’s role in the show (Stiles’ mate, coyotes mate for life, people don’t really care about things like why she’s not feral, etc., etc.) haven’t helped. And no, I don’t think it’s okay for anyone to be sending hate comments to the actress, btw. I doubt very much that most shippers would be okay with that. A few bad apples don’t represent any group as a whole, and that includes shippers.
I know none of that will make a difference to someone who’s determined to believe that I can’t think clearly because I ship. But the assumption that shippers are unable to like or dislike Malia on her own merits is absurd and offensive, as well as inaccurate.
You do realize Stalia is a ship itself right?
Also, there is also criticism about Kira’s writing, it’s just a bit harder to find but it’s there. The thing for Kira though is that there’s more excitement of there actually being an Asian main character, so a lot of the writing and holes there are forgiven in exchange.
Obviously, Malia doesn’t have that backing.
Also, is hate stemmed from first impressions (unsafe sex of mentally unstable Stiles and supposedly not quite stable Malia in an asylum basement) really just shippers’ hate? You didn’t think that kind of situation was off at all? Malia’s not to blame, but it’s just not a good 1st impression. And of course in this situation we will default sympathy to Stiles because we KNOW Stiles. That 1st impression alone leaves a bad taste in ones mouth.
actually people hate Kira because of Scott and Allison.. the same way people hate Malia. i would say most of those are Stydia shippers… idk about other Sterek shippers..but i am a hardcore Sterek Shipper and i LOVE Stalia. i figure if jeff cant get Sterek together Stiles should at least be happy and thats with Malia. someone who doesnt choose Stiles because he is last choice.
I agree with all this. I’ve been in a few fandoms and someone would have to explain to me why showrunners, marketing etc. push a character that much when said character isn’t well received. Is it because they want to create a stir and get people talking or because they just sell the character like a cereal brand? That scene in Eichen House was awful but the marketing is just making things worse. After all that push, including all TV sites singing the same tune that we’re gonna love her, I just lost the little enthousiasm I had left in tuning in for S4.
To be honest, I don’t actually think Malia spent 8 years in the forest as a coyote. Or possibly she’s not Malia at a ll, just pretending. I do think she’s a coyote trickster tho. Possibly what Jennifer was sacrificing things to.
Mr. Tate said the coyote had only been bothering him for a few weeks, if she had been around for 8 years I think she would have bugging him for longer. And she said she couldn’t transform but she flashed her blue eyes, and had a bit of a smirk when she left Echo house and the way she left that place was very fishy and her talk with Morrell.
What I’m saying is I think there’s something fishy going on with Malia and she might try and isolate Stiles. Apparently coyotes don’t do packs. And just we shouldn’t trust just what we’re being told but look out for what’s being shown too because you know show vs tell, etc. You can’t always trust what you’re being told.
That was my hope too, and again the ONLY way this plot would make sense.
Sadly, usually fandom meta are better than the original plot and looking at season 3 and it’s awful writing just force me to think about this as “wishful thinking”.
I really hope you’ll be proven right!
Ugh, so very true. But I was right about Jennifer when I found her fishy from the start (I didn’t always think she was the darach but something fishy) so I guess here’s hoping?
Yeah, me too, I told my friends that Jennifer was fishy since the beginning (also, always in the right place at the right tme) and I did the same with Malia, because of the meaning of her name and that strange look after E.H., but I suppose I just lost my faith in this show.
The plot holes are bigger than the moon and they don’t even bother with a damn timeline. I’m just sorry to have invested so much time in it and pushed so many friends to watch!
I truely hope the sixth sense I usually have about characters won’t fail because of Malia, she was off from the start and I so hope that the offness stems from something other than her existance as solely a romantic interest for stiles.
I’d so love it if Jeff Davis was being a humongous troll and will have Malia turn out to be an antagonist like Peter.
I haven’t lost my faith in the show completely but I have accepted that Teen Wolf is so horrifically bad at creating a believable romance that they can only do it when it’s Scott and then can devote 30% of the time to slow-burning his love life, anything else they’ve done has been skeevy (Allison/Isaac, Lydia/Aiden, Ethan/Danny) and sometimes down right disturbing.(Malia/Stiles and Derek/Jennifer)
I am so with you on the timeline thing, it’s the most aggravating thing that you have no clue to the passage of time between seasons and sometimes within seasons and within eps.
And ugh their timeline is the worst. It’s impossible to get a solid one going. And I do not know what the heck their problem is with not telling us how old Derek is. By now I think Jeff thinks he’s being funny or some shit, but he is damn not.
I’m with you there! why can’t they just say what age he is. I’ve been with the fandom since well not quite the beginning, and they used to say he was younger than we thought.
Also heard Hoechlin confirmed Derek was supposed to be 19 in season one, which makes so much more sense both with the story and character wise. But they changed it because of the Kate thing, which personally I don’t see the need for, but I know in shows you are constrained in ways so when you need to change something it comes off as slightly weird. But usually it’s like a background thing and you wouldn’t really notice.
But I’d like them to say if the guy is closer to 20 than 30.
Also I’d like them to stop saying they can’t reveal if Stiles is Bi because of spoilers, confirming a sexual orientation is not a spoiler in my opinion, it’s just a slightly inconsequential fact.
But first I’d like them to make things make some sense chronologically, I mean they’re never in school anymore so that can’t even give us a hint.
I agree with everything in this article. Malia has potential to be a great character, but we don’t know much about her. The whole scene in Echo House just felt off to me. It felt forced. I’m a shipper and my feelings about Malia have nothing to do with if I feel like one of my ships are threatened or not. I want to know more about her. Is she really Peter’s daughter? Why would Talla leave her to be raised by humans without anyone else knowing about her? I just hope that Jeff Davis develops her character and we find out more in S4.
Thank you for writing this, I completely agree with you. I am so disillusioned with this show now that I have made the hard decision to stop watching. I do feel bad, as I would like to continue to support the actors, but I have so many issues with the writing and story lines now, I just cannot bring myself to watch any more. But as I said before, thank you for writing this article, I think your views echo that of many of the other fans out there, it certainly does echo mine.
Late to the party but i want to leave my own opinion on Malia. For me I don’t like her and I don’t hate her. People would say that it is because of my ships but honestly that is not the case. I am a hardcore Sterek, Sciles, and Stora shipper but just because Malia and Stiles are gonna be together is not the reason why I don’t like her. The reason is (and everyone already pointed it out) her character makes no sense. First of all what was she even doing at Eichen House? Why was she even there? Second of all how was she able to get out of there with a sword on like nothing happened? Something else that caught my attention how can she not have control when at the end of Echo house her eyes flash blue? Another thing that I do not understand is how was she able to enroll in school? Things like that are the reason why I do not like Malia. I understand that some people like her and I respect that but people also need to respect why others don’t like Malia and its not because of Malia ruining my ships. Another thing that bugs me is what makes Malia so special that she gets to have a mate? Why not Scott or Derek characters that have been on the show since the beginning? Why does she get to have a mate and not the other wolves? and correct me if I’m wrong but didnt Malia hated Stiles in the beginning? And now he’s her mate? And since he’s her ‘mate’ why wasn’t she there to help Stiles? Why didnt she offered to help since you know thats her mate? Another thing that bugs me is why are you pairing up two people who had no interaction whatsoever together? Why are people so down with this ship when it doesn’t make sense? Now I am pretty sure someone will say about Stiles and Cora not making sense but see here. With Cora Stiles was actually able to talk to her more than in one episode, he trusted her with telling his dad about werewolves and she trusted him with taking care of her when she was hurt. In all honesty she could have been an interesting character if Jeff wrote her well and i am willing to bet that half way through the season or by the end of the season … everyone’s opinion will change regardless of what they say it will change.
Also late to the party, I don’t like Malia’s character basically for the reasons stated in the article and most of the comments. I think one of the biggest problems with this is that Jeff Davis doesn’t really respect his audience. I think he sees us as a big pile of giggling 13 year old girls who watch for shirtless boys. The “bad apples” of the fandom unfortunately serve to enforce that ideal. The people who immaturely threaten an actress for a character they don’t like just enforces Davis’ “honhonhon they just don’t want stiles to have a girlfriend, silly pre-teens”. And there is absolutely nothing more infuriating then being called a butthut shipper. I ship Sterek or Stydia, whoop de doo. But I’m also an English major and aspiring book editor, I am truly committed to character development and continuity, it’s what makes me truly devoted to a show. It’s really quite simple, flesh out a character, make them 3-dimensional, THEN make them a love interest. And to one of the earlier comments I read, if you don’t think a hook-up scene in a characters second episode is pushing them as a love interest, I really am curious as to how you would define “pushing”. Recently I lectured my mom on some of the truck sized plot hole in the story and timeline, her response was interesting I think. She wasn’t bothered by any of it because she views it as a “fun but silly teen soap opera”. He base belief that the show couldn’t ever be of quality actually caused her to enjoy it without any real complaints. I really wish I could tell Jeff Davis what an insult that really is.
Though her entrance on the show felt forced, so did Kira. She’s not a fully formed character yet. All we know about Kira is she’s a kitsune and good with a katana for the most part. And though I may not like the introduction of Malia the way they made it, she would have also had coyote instincts that stuck with her as a human. Such as mating and needing to form a bond with someone: ie Stiles. I like her character and am actually excited to see her develop and become part of the pack.
I don’t hate Malia, but I don’t like the reason she’s in the show or how she’s been forced on fans.
Consider the following…
Cora Hale was introduced after accusations about queerbaiting intensified. It was implied that Cora was supposed to be Stiles’ love interest. It has been suggested that she was meant to be JD’s answer to Stiles’ potential bisexuality and the onscreen chemistry between Stiles and the male and non-age-appropriate Derek (and Peter for those fans who saw chemistry between Stiles and Peter).
Adelaide Kane though couldn’t commit to continuing on the show because of Reign. So, JD swapped out Cora by sending the character off somewhere (I can’t even remember where he sent her) and introduced Malia.
I’ve said this elsewhere and I’ll say it again here: Malia, like Cora, is a snarky, female, heterosexual, age-appropriate version of Derek and Peter.
It’s not the first time this has been done on television. Consider “Heroes.” Elle was introduced after some fans started shipping Claire and Sylar and even Claire and Peter. Elle provided an “appropriate” love/sexual interest for Peter and then Sylar which could draw attention from teenage Claire becoming involved with either. Elle wasn’t A) Too innocent, pure and young to be involved with an older man and/or a killer B) Peter’s niece.
From a writer’s perspective, I’m disgusted when creatives add more “appropriate” characters to a show instead of dealing with taboo topics head on. If fans are shipping two characters that will never be put together, then a show’s PTB need to make it clear that the characters will NEVER be involved that way.
The problem right now is that creatives say one thing and then do another; and some rely on mixed messages and queerbaiting. As a result, fans can’t even trust when they’re told that a ship will never happen. So, at this point, Malia makes it look like JD is telling the fans “no homo.”
Now, I’m not to say I didn’t eventually grow to love Elle as a character (I may still with Malia), but it’s a cop out.
Personally, I could care less if Stiles ever hooked up with ANY Hale. What I care about is that JD mocks fans, treats characters as disposable and plays games. After all, he could have followed GoT’s lead and simply found another actress to play the part of Cora. Better yet, he could have had Stiles hook up with someone who isn’t a female version of the male Hales. ANY other female or male would have been fine and wouldn’t seem like he’s laughing at the Sterek or Steter shippers.
That’s why I personally don’t like the character. Not because I’m shipping, but because it’s:
A. Bad writing
Worse yet, since Malia isn’t a fully fleshed out character, viewers are left with a very bad taste in their mouths because of Stiles/Malia.
The basement scene felt forced and, because fans didn’t have time to learn more about Malia, the portrayal of Malia and Stiles undermined Stiles as a character.
What are the choices really when deciding how to feel about a heavy make out session or sex between Stiles and Malia (who he barely knew)?
1. The Nogitsune was the one in control… So, essentially, Stiles was being raped by it by being forced into sexual conduct with a mentally unhealthy and potentially emotionally child-like girl; which also means he was being forced to sexually assault someone.
2. Stiles was in control… So, essentially, he knowingly and without concern interacted sexually with Malia; which tells fans that he isn’t the character fans have grown to love.
3. Stiles was mentally imbalanced… So, fans should be satisfied that Stiles’ first sexual encounter involved him having sexual contact with someone he barely knew who was also another mentally imbalanced teen?
4. Malia is an adult coyote? Are we to believe that Stiles, who spent how long researching everything he could about werewolves since the PILOT, wouldn’t know that she might see him as a potential mate?
None of the above scenarios sits well with me. It’s incredibly shoddy writing.
I might have bought Stiles meeting a new girl at Eichen House, connecting with her and then, while under the strain of his struggle with the Nogitsune, finding some sort of release/peace by making out with the girl.
I think that’s what they were trying to do with the scene, but because it was Malia, and she was introduced as a feral teenager, viewers automatically associate Malia with a childlike state (where she is or isn’t emotionally is irrelevant) and; therefore, associate sexual contact with her as inappropriate… ironically being the exact opposite of what was probably intended with the introduction of her character (i.e. an inappropriate relationship with Stiles).
In the paragraph above, I meant “whether” she is or isn’t…
That’s one of the things that does stand out about Malia..her being another (possible) Hale..as if Jeff thinks that Stiles chemistry only works it’s the other person is a Hale…Cora Hale was def a male version of Derek, and Adelaide herself said she was told her character will take Stiles’s virginity…then she left and Jeff immediately put in another Hale, Malia, who again looks like a male version of the snarky, vicious, adult Derek and Peter that fans know…i really don’t get it…i don’t think Sterek can be recreated by randomly giving Stiles a female Hale…his dynamics with Malia were quite different from how he interacts with Derek…one of the things that fans like about Sterek is that even if Derek is physically stronger, Stiles doesn’t put up with it and even yelled at him in the hospital scene back in 3A and always has a response to what Derek does or says….with Malia, Stiles acted a bit out of character, and labeled all her responses as ‘progress’….and Shelley herself said in an interview that Malia shows her affection by punching him in the face rather than caress his cheek and that Stiles kind of bows down in front of what she does, shes the big spoon, and he’s the little, (or something like that)…so yes, people we have a very healthy relationship right there (sarcasm)
Personally i’m a big fan of Malia, probably down to the fact i’m also a fan of Shelley Hennig. Before i start i understand where fans are coming from, some of the reasons for hate i just don’t agree with.
1) Mental age – The only question people ask is “why hasn’t she got the mental age of an 8 year old?” without looking at the much bigger picture. For example, maybe the vet (can’t remember his name) gave her something that helped her age to that of a 17/18 year old, it wouldn’t shock me, i know its a long shot but still. Another reason could be that were-coyote’s age differently to other creatures. Someone else has already said it, harsh conditions, family tragedy, being chased by animals and hunted by humans, all of that would change you mentally, it’d harden you and teach you a lot about the harshness of life. I understand the complaints but there are so many possibilities that people need to be patient and see if its explained.
2) Lack of feral behavior – Look back on the different accounts, a feral child reacts to how it was while separated from society. Malia was a coyote and from what i understand coyote’s in general and for the most part are able to co-exist with humans unless they, feel threatened, attacked or provoked. So if the writers are going with the always up for a fight, sexual type of character fair enough. With that being said, i do agree, how exactly can she talk at least so fluently, i get that they’ll go with comedy when she’s in lessons and gets asked questions but after eight years, her fluency in talking would surely deteriorate.
3) Being a main character – The main argument is why have Danny confess to knowing of werewolves but not use him in story. Ever thought the actor who plays Danny didn’t want a bigger role or maybe because knowing OF werewolves and knowing ABOUT werewolves are two very different things. This is one of the arguments i can’t stand because what about Kira? She has practically replaced Allison on the show, don’t believe me? LI for Scott (check) awesome when it comes to using weapons (check) becoming best friends with Lydia (check) yet no hate is garnered towards her and somehow Malia’s the one replacing Allison. Don’t get me wrong i don’t dislike Kira, i just can’t particularly warm to her, with the feeling of them wanting Allison 2.0.
4) Relationship – Everybody complains Stalia feels forced it was too quick, we don’t know the character properly. Looks as Scott/Kira and see’s the exact same thing but again nobody calls it out. I personally would have had them go at it, Malia resenting Stiles for what he done, have them play off the punch, then build the relationship in season 4. I actually like the Stalia pairing, then there’s the shippers of Stydia and Sterek. I used to like the Stydia pairing but since the end of season 2 i can only see them as friends, anything more would ruin it. As for Sterek i’m impartial, if it happens, then fair enough, if not it doesn’t.
I understand wanting to explain away some of the character inconsistencies about Malia, especially if you’re a fan of the actress. But it’s not OUR job as the audience to imagine that Deaton might have given her a special age-up potion or to dream up other possibilities to explain her away. It’s the show’s job (well, the show creator/writers jobs) to present their characters in such a way that their aren’t glaring inconsistencies that need to be explained away in the first place. It’s one thing to hold back information about a character intentionally in order to create an impactful reveal at a later time, but it’s a separate thing to write a character so that her existence or behavior makes no sense within the show’s own universe. The former may be require a fine hand to pull off, while the latter is just bad writing. Malia falls into the latter category.
I think the comparison between Scott/Kira and Stalia is inaccurate. The Scott/Kira relationship has been shown unfolding slowly over the course of season 3B, and now through the beginning of the fourth season. Malia and Stiles, though, barely knew each other when the activities in Eichen House occurred – and occurred in a way that some would point out required Stiles to be OOC in order to be interested in at that moment in time. That’s in addition to the more general issues of dubious consent. Even as of S4E2 (“117”), the Stalia relationship has some unpleasant edges to it (consider Stiles’ description of Malia sneaking into his room at night. He doesn’t sound happy with the situation. If a male were sneaking into someone’s room and bed in the middle of the night and were described the way Stiles describes Malia’s behavior, would that be at all acceptable to anyone?)
My concerns about Malia and Stalia aren’t based on my preference for Sterek or Stydia. They’re based on what the show is handing me about Malia herself, and then hoping I’ll like “because Scott and Stiles like her”. I will not like a character based on whether other characters like her and the show’s creator tells me she’s great. The show needs to convince me she’s great based on good writing and characterization. So far as regards Malia, the show is failing do to so for me.
Oh don’t get me confused with defending the writers, i agree with a lot of the complaints of the severe mishandling of the character. But i was saying that maybe there’s a reason for it that hasn’t been explained. I’d like to think that the writer’s have got something planned where somebody does call out the fact she was a coyote, although i feel it would have to be someone like Derek, who as far as i can remember was dealing with other things at the time of Scott and the others helping Malia. So maybe he finds out and calls her out on it then we get the explanation but with a lot of shows like this it doesn’t happen very often.
I think i said it in the last comment, Stalia should have had phases. Malia could have gone from angry to understanding in season 3B to liking and build a relationship in season 4. I don’t like that they went from a punch to sex in a mental institution basement but it can’t be redone unfortunately. With Scott/Kira i can’t warm to the relationship. Its just too cringe worthy and for me, like when Kira was trying to tell Scott to be careful, i spent the whole time trying to look away, it was like a car crash. I know Allison/Scott was a puppy love i think i’m gonna throw up relationship (sorry real can’t think of another way to put it at this time) but at least it was watchable and then they were actually a pretty awesome couple in season 2. But yeah they really need to slow down the whole Stalia thing, as you said someone sneaking into someone’s room is wrong.
Yeah that was weak beyond repair to say “if she’s good enough for Scott and Stiles, she’ll be good enough for you” but there are people who base their like of a character on how their favorite feels about them. I can’t really explain why i like the Malia character, maybe its what the potential character back story was, like her cutting off from humanity after killing her family, or maybe its just the fact i’m a fan of Shelly Hennig. We still have a lot of episodes left of season 4, hopefully all will be explained.
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