Do you ever find yourself saying, “It’s not as crap as it sounds.”? There are some TV shows and films where you look at the name and groan because it just doesn’t sound great, even if it is the best show in existence.
Most recently I have found this with Teen Wolf. I was so dubious to start watching it that it took me until series three was plastered all over my Tumblr dash to try it out past the first episode.
It was the name of it that put me off the most. Who names something Teen Wolf and doesn’t expect people to go, “Not another Twilight.”? That was the mind set I had from hearing the name and from seeing the very first episode. It seemed generic and centred around the whole ‘Supernatural Boy meets Ordinary Girl.’ That really isn’t the case with Teen Wolf. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Teen Wolf does tell you what the show is about, it is about a teenager who happens to become a werewolf (a good kind of werewolf who needs to learn to control his anger etc) but the show is so much more than that. Scott McCall can at times suffer from ‘Main Character Syndrome’, but he is characterised quite brilliantly, he’s not super smart (he has his moments of sheer stupidity), he’s trying to learn to fit into a new world, and at times yo might want to slap him silly, but for the most part, he is quite a good root for the show.
Allison, the lead female, is cast as a love interest in the first episode, past knowing her Dad is a hunter there is very little intrigue there. She’s just a pretty face, right?
Oh so wrong. Allison has skills and smarts with her good looks. She’s got a depth of character that you don’t usually see with the love interest. She is very much her own person with problems. And she is, with lack of a better word, a BAMF with her bow-toting hunting. Come the middle of series three and we see so much more to her than even this. She actively changes what it is her family fight for. The Argent family, French for Silver, over time became the thing that kills werewolves. But she persuaded her father that they could be fighting a whole other fight: Protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Even the ‘bimbo bitch’ isn’t the stereotype. Lydia is that character that every TV show would benefit from. She is the one that starts off as a bitch, but you know there is more to her than her beauty and hot boyfriend. She’s the most intelligent teen on the show, and over time she makes friends with the trusty central gang and learns that, actually, she can be herself with her smarts and moves away from the cold bitchy exterior. That doesn’t mean to say she doesn’t still have her moments of utter sassy bitchiness that you will learn to love.
Stiles “What is his real first name?” Stilinski is the comic relief best friend in much a Xander Harris outfit, but again, he is more than a laugh a minute punching bag. He’s witty-funny, stupid-funny and wicked smart and about the most truthful portrayal of a teenager I think I’ve ever seen in television (his Dad having to pull him away from his laptop, anyone?) He has a past and he has issues and he is so much more than he is sold to be. He’s the human best friend in a superhuman world (even Lydia isn’t simply a girl) he gets dragged through thick and thin and comes out on top – it’ll be interesting to see where they take his character with the turn of events in the latter half of series three.
Then there’s Derek, is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? You can’t really be all that sure, even when he is being nice. He’s the Alpha (which, by the way, you can’t be unless you say it completely over dramatically in the campy tone the show has set itself), but that doesn’t always mean he’s in charge. Peter Hale might be one of the most interesting characters the show has to offer. You know he’s a bad guy, he’s just weaselled his way into the good crowd so he can cause even more trouble and it’s fantastic to see unfold.
That is just the running theme of the show. The storylines, the characters and the whole concept of the it is so much more than you are given on the surface. A title such as Teen Wolf do absolutely nothing to sell it to the wider audiences it could reach. It is by no means ‘The New Buffy’, even though it is giving it a damned good go in its later seasons, but it’s certainly showing a Twilight generation what monsters are supposed to be along with real-ish relationships and portrayals of teenagers. It is a show that is so much more than its name.
Even the more minor characters such as Danny are brilliant rounded and thought out. Is Stiles attractive to men? Will we ever know? (On a side note: Teen Wolf seems to be the only show I’ve seen where the gay teen relationship isn’t made into a big deal. It’s just there. It happens and nobody treats it as if it is some big strange thing. The issue with the relationship is that Ethan is a werewolf from a rival pack and for that I must take a moment to commend the showrunners and writers. Admittedly they refer to Danny’s preferences a lot, but it’s still never a big deal to anyone.)
I urge people to watch Teen Wolf or at least give it a chance past its set-up episodes. The series arcs are as brilliant as the characters that might not see more than simple to start with.
So what’s in a name? Everything. Absolutely everything.