There are a lot of reasons we fall for different characters: attractiveness, the actor, the number of witty one liners – but it takes something truly spectacular to make people say, “This character is just important to me, they are just important.” Teen Wolf’s Allison Argent is one of those characters. She didn’t defy the stereotype, she struggled with it. Her desperation not to be “that girl” was the basis for the seriously fascinating internal struggle that defined her character.
Anyone that has managed to negotiate the Internet without being spoiled about the most recent Teen Wolf episode (3×23) – well done and you should probably stop reading now.
Early in Season 1 Allison’s role appeared pretty straightforward. She was there to be the object of protagonist affections (Scott McCall), the emotional connection between the hero and the villains (werewolves and hunters) and a prize to be stolen by the high school antagonist (Jackson). We’ve seen it all before and it’s pretty depressing. The hero’s girlfriend; nothing more than a possession to be won or lost. But there’s a reason people are constantly saying that Teen Wolf defies expectations and Allison Argent is one of them.
What makes Allison stand out is that she is driven by her fear of being the girl I just described. She’s chock full of internalized misogyny that makes her terrified of her feminine traits, particularly the expression of emotion. This underlying fear is at odds with the hero’s girlfriend role – a role that is more often than not defined by compassion and emotional understanding. She’s supposed to be there to teach the hero how to feel but Allison doesn’t even know what to feel herself. Luckily Scott McCall doesn’t need any help in that department.
Right from the start there’s a role reversal because Scott is definitely the more emotionally aware of the two of them. If anyone is going to teach someone how to feel, it’s Scott teaching Allison. But, unlike some other heroines, she doesn’t have to sacrifice other feminine traits to achieve this reversal. She’s still incredibly compassionate – her and Scott first bond over saving an injured dog after all – but that’s only the beginning! Allison Argent just gets more complex, more interesting, more dynamic, and more important as the series progresses.
Although she has some great moments early in Season 1 – her pulling out that condom is still one of my favorite moments in television history – she really starts to come into her own after the events in “Night School”. She breaks up with Scott because she knows he’s lying to her and unlike most superhero girlfriends that are kept in the dark she’s not just going to take it. In episode 9 we find out the crux of the issue when Allison tells her aunt: “That night in the school I felt utterly weak. Like I needed somebody to come in a rescue me. I hate that feeling. I want to feel stronger than that. I want to feel powerful.”
Much of Allison’s character arch throughout Teen Wolf was driven by her quest for power to quell her fear of weakness. Everything that happens with Scott is a byproduct of her personal arc. How often does the hero’s girlfriend get her very own emotional arc that doesn’t resolve around romance? One that is tied to her own needs, her own desires. Allison Argent is the best thing Teen Wolf has ever done, hands down.
Its gets even better, because in Season 2 Allison Argent gets to do the unthinkable, she gets to be angry. Women are very rarely allowed to be genuinely angry, especially teenage girls. She’s angry at her aunt, she’s angry at her parents, she’s angry at Derek, and she’s angry at herself. It’s pretty amazing that when the core cast is confronted with their greatest fears at Lydia’s birthday party Allison is confronted with herself. There was a big deal made of out Stiles fighting himself in Season 3B but Allison was doing that since day one.
Allison received some harsh criticism over the seasons because she picked the wrong side a couple of times. But really she made the best available choice with the information she had. Sure, Kate and Gerard exploited her fundamental fear of weakness spectacularly but at least they gave her some information unlike her father and her boyfriend who both insisted on keeping things from her for her own safety. It’s pretty hard for Allison to break the stereotype when everyone keeps treating her like one.
By the time we get to Season 3, Allison Argent has climbed out of the belly of the beast and she’s a full-blown hero in her own right. She was still struggling of course, with the loss of her mother, with the mistakes she made in Season 2, with accepting her families legacy while keeping her own convictions. Can’t she be strong and go to prom? Allison is constantly trying to find that balance and it sure is fascinating to watch.
At the end of 3A she finds her ground by taking a leadership position over her father and creating her own code: “We protect those who can’t protect themselves.” That’s Allison Argent. She’s a hunter, it’s in her blood. But she’s also compassionate, kind, and she desperately wants to help people just as much as Scott McCall does. Allison Argent is a hero… or she was.
The most amazing thing about Allison Argent – for me anyway – is that despite being created as a romantic lead for the hero her most significant and interesting relationship is with her best friend, Lydia Martin. Considering this friendship was born out of narrative convenience, it’s pretty special that it turned into one of the best female friendships on TV. I mean really they were only friends because the show needed a way to bring this unlikely group of people together – specifically they had to get popular Jackson and Lydia to hang out with losers Scott and Stiles. Allison and Lydia’s friendship brought them together but it became so much more.
In Season 1, the thing that pushed Allison over the edge and into Kate’s clutches is the site of Lydia’s unconscious body in the hospital. That image makes her turn against Scott, it makes her give in to her violent urges, and it’s the start of her journey to the dark side in Season 2. Allison Argent lost control of herself for her best friend and that’s wonderful.
It’s fitting, then, that in the end Allison died to save her best friend. Her last act was saving Isaac, but that wasn’t why she died. The aim of the mission, of the episode, was to find and save Lydia. As Allison tells Scott before the fight begins, she’s there to save her best friend. When Scott reaches her side after she’s been stabbed the first thing she asks is about Lydia and then she noticeably calms. Lydia’s safe so it’s okay. She’s in the arms of the boy she loved, so it’s okay.
Allison Argent died for Lydia Martin. It’s as heartbreaking as it is it beautiful.
They say that everyone is watching a different television show – like we all have our own individual ideas about what kind of show it is – well I was watching Allison Argent’s superhero origin story. I will probably never be okay with her loss, but I’m glad she went down fighting and there is no doubt in my mind that she died a hero.
Allison Argent was the kind of female character that I have been dreaming about, and I know that as time goes on she will be appreciated more and more because she definitely deserves it.
Here’s to Allison Argent, a hero and a girl. She died for her best friend in the arms of her first love and she will not be forgotten.
Author: Undie Girl
Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.
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