TV Series Review
MTV has transformed itself from music video channel to reality TV kingpin, so it knows a thing or two about transmogrifications. Handy information, that, when nurturing a coming-of-age show about a werewolf.
With its origins stemming from the 1985 teen comedy feature Teen Wolf, this scripted show follows an average nobody high schooler who gets bitten by a werewolf and suddenly develops some unexpected super skills—not to mention a full-moon-sparked 5 o'clock shadow that just won't quit. That, however, is pretty much where the similarities end between the hour-long drama and the Michael J. Fox campy monster mash (and its subsequent cartoon spin-off). MTV's take has grown ever more complicated—weaving countless supernatural characters, lycanthropic factions and a dense mythology into the mix.
Not Your Mother's Buffy
Our lycanthropic leading man is the mild-natured teen Scott McCall, who gets infected during a forest excursion with his goofy pal Stiles. Before long, Scott can hear and smell things he never has before, run superfast on four legs and look rather wolfish should the mood strike. And the perennial lacrosse bench warmer finds that he can perform like an all-star.
After some growing pains, Scott finds that he fits into his new skin pretty well. He even takes over the role of alpha in the werewolf pack, and he has to be respected a bit for using his nifty powers mostly to save people, rather than rip them apart for kibble.
Teen Wolf takes some thematic cues from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, turning puberty and high school into a flat-out horror story with the occasional metaphorical undertone. These werewolf changes mirror, on some level, the weird transformations that all adolescents go through—complete with deeper voices, seemingly uncontrollable emotions and hair that grows in strange places. And Scott's transformation into an alpha may reflect how we all grow into the burdens, benefits and responsibilities of adulthood.
But Teen Wolf is more graphic than Buffy ever was. Since this is the age of supernatural heart-flutterers like Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, MTV's Teen Wolf has to keep up with the Jacobs when it comes to CGI blood spattering and those steamy golden-eyed gazes—including some same-sex dalliances.
A Sexualized Mythology
We see vicious fights, horrific wounds and enough body parts to keep casual Saw fans sated. Werewolves are often dispatched by being cut in two, for instance. And even if Scott and his furry cohorts are in their human form, things can still get a little hairy.
"There's a lot of nakedness," said cast member Holland Roden in an eonline.com interview. "And we have lots of sex. Yes, a lot of sex." Crystal Reed, who plays Allison, added, to The Wall Street Journal, "Of all the shows that are on, I would say True Blood is the one that I would compare to our show most."
Even into the fifth season, that's a stretch. But this angst-laden Teen Wolf does tear out more than the occasional jugular. It's also ripping through bodices, hot-around-the-collar teen trysts, high school sexual self-discovery and lots of mythological mayhem.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Tyler Posey as Scott McCall; Crystal Reed as Allison Argent; Dylan O'Brien as Stiles; Tyler Hoechlin as Derek Hale; Colton Haynes as Jackson; Holland Roden as Lydia Martin; Eaddy Mays as Mrs. Victoria Argent; J.R. Bourne as Argent; Max Carver as Aidan; Charlie Carver as Ethan; Arden Cho as Kira Yukimura; Shelley Hennig as Malia Tate