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Why Teen Wolf is a Great Show Horror Fans Are Overlooking

file_167809_0_teen_wolf21Horror is having a renaissance on the small screen. We’ve had hits and misses in the last few years: Supernatural, The Walking Dead and The Following have all had incredible success while shows like Bates Motel and Hannibal are critical darlings still finding their audience and then there’s always…666 Park Avenue. Okay, so not everything is a win. But there is one show on now that a lot of horror fans may be passing up because of some preconceived notions. Teen Wolf is easily one of the best horror shows now, and maybe, ever.

Now, I know that a lot of people look at Teen Wolf and all they see is a show on MTV that looks to be sapping from the success of other teen supernatural dramas such as The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural. And the timing may lend credence to that idea. But Teen Wolf has much more bite than you would anticipate.

I took a leap of faith on the show, largely because of my profound love for the movie. When it was announced, I was incredibly hesitant, with rumors flying that Jaden Smith would play the lead and that it was going to be a teen drama instead of a comedy. Jaden Smith eventually fell through and relative unknown Tyler Posey picked up the lead of Scott McCaul. In fact, most of the cast were newcomers save for Linden Ashby playing Sheriff Stilinski, father of best friend Stiles and local law enforcement officer. Soon enough, the pilot dropped and I braced myself for the worst. Instead, I came away craving more.

I don’t know how they did it but the folks at MTV managed to craft a stylish, funny and genuinely creepy supernatural drama. The similarities between the show and the movie are almost non-existent. Scott and Stiles are best friends and they are both on a sports team although it happens to be lacrosse, not basketball. They live in Beacon Hills, a small Northern California territory entrenched in the Redwoods, full of morning fog and small forest clearings. The show creates a mythology that is engrossing, drawing on old European and  Native American legends to craft their own unique version of the werewolves.

These aren’t like any other werewolves we’ve ever seen. Forgoing the amplified version of giant wolves seen in Twilight or the horrific creations akin to An American Werewolf in London, these creatures are furrowed brow, razor claws and gnashing fanged creatures that call back to the vampires we know and love from Buffy. So much of the show builds on the creature, making them more interesting and unique than perhaps any other iteration we’ve ever seen of them. Alphas, Omegas and Betas all exist. Ashwood and silver are used as weapons but given unique and new twists. The show refuses to recycle any tired werewolf tropes.

Two things really lend to the show being as good as it is. First, the characters. Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) and Scott (Tyler Posey) are believable best friends that are hilarious and endearing. The love interests Allison (Crystal Reed) and Lydia (Holland Roden) are smart, sexy, and brave confident women that are more fighters than damsels in distress. A rotating cast of supporting characters all with their own strengths just make the show even more enjoyable and engrossing: Scott’s boss who is a mythic shaman, a clan of hunters who take it upon themselves to protect the town, twin werewolves that morph into one super hybrid wolf, a banshee. The list goes on and on.

That really leads into the meat and potatoes of why the show is so amazing. It doesn’t just settle for your basic werewolf and vampire rivalry. The writers have decided to pull from Irish, Druidic, Native American and Japanese folklore to keep the watchers on their toes. Don’t expect to see some vampires, some zombies, and some other A-list monsters that are well-known. These guys are reaching deep into the pockets of mythology and creating some gems. And the creatures they are presenting are powerful, awesome, and sometimes truly terrifying.

The first season is the hardest to get through, but not because of lacking story or annoying characters, just from simple lack of budget. Some of the effects are cringe-inducing but you can kiss that goodbye in season two. Averaging over 1.5 million viewers per season and coming away with a clean 100% rating of it’s second season premiere on Metacritic, this is one bandwagon that you won’t regret hopping on.

  • Baytor

    You’re the second person to write a beloved editorial of this show in the last week so I may have to actually sit down and watch this now. It sounds like the Canadian kids show (which itself was really just a TV show of Teen Wolf) Big Wolf on Campus except it takes itself more seriously. Fine, you win, I’ll put it on the list. Don’t make me regret this!

    • J Jett

      Baytor, this show really IS very good. it’s cool (and refreshing) to see creatures that haven’t been show at all or very often in this genre (a banshee, a human sized poisonous lizard type creature, etc). the characters are likable, etc.

      i hope you like it!

  • K. Lee Adams

    I’m not overlooking it. I’ve watched it and I don’t like it. It’s just not my cup of tea.

  • J Jett

    Ryan Larson, THANK YOU!!! i agree TW is an excellent show. i think the “Teen” part of TEEN WOLF is what turns some people off from giving the show a try. i admit season 3A was very very weak but seasons 1, 2 and the current 3B are excellent.

    oh and season 1 is the best and my favorite season yet!

  • thepsychocinephile

    Finally, someone speaks up for this show! This show is awesome!!!

  • Hando316

    When I first heard about it, I wasn’t sure cause like the writer said it’s on MTV. It had me hooked tooth and nail. First season was a good starting point and now in the second half of season 3 is interesting. I find my looking up on the internet about some of the lore they bring about and its pretty cool.

  • Tim

    I tried watching this show and gave it more than one chance. The show is horrible. It is pure teeny bopper drama with occasional awkward. The first episode has him turning into a werewolf but instead of being concerned or completely freaked out about it, he’s worried about how his date will go. It only got worse the more I watched. I love vampire and werewolf movies and shows but this is unwatchable. It does rank with twilight and vampire diaries.

    • M M

      Me too. I have it a couple of episode and it was awful. The story was really weak, the acting was terrible and the fx were rather limp.

      • TheCollector222

        If you only watched the first few eps you didn’t give it enough of a chance. I agree and so do my friends that in the beginning the actings laughable and it’s just not to good, but I was talked into giving it a chance and it gets a hell of a lot better. So give it further of a chance. Watch more then you have, cause it really gets a ton better before the first season is over. And now it’s not even recognizable it’s gotten so good.

  • mrelectriccity

    wouldn’t one of the best horror shows ever but is a good show and i watch it

  • Polite_Werewolf

    Sorry. I avoid MTV. The commercials alone would probably drive me to change the channel if I even tried watching it.