On the bullets and angst of Teen Wolf

Teen Wolf is surprisingly well written. Of course, I’m willing to admit that I did not want to like the show. 

From the moment I first heard about the project, I was expecting to totally jeer the series as Twilight-esque fluffy nonsense, especially coming from MTV. Thus, I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised by the show’s essential quality.

I’m willing to place it up with Smallville as one of the few teen dramas worth watching. As a fantasy show, the writing and portrayals remind me of Supernatural, a clever show which is not afraid to be self-effacing.

The effects are good, the drama is believable, and there is very little plot-blindness or overwrought melodrama. There is of course some angsty teen hormonal awkwardness, but those parts of the story are treated as the silliness they are.

When the characters get into their awkward teen situations, there are no dramatic camera angles or over-blown symphonic scores, they are left to act like awkward teenagers and be as silly as needed for the scenes. I think this is what lowers the barrier of entry for an adult audience. The thing that keeps many teen dramas from being any good is the terrible gravity with which they depict normal teenage angst. This show has none of that.

The lore is being treated well here to. The eponymous protagonist has been bitten by an unknown “alpha” werewolf, another werewolf in town is a reluctant ally, and the protagonist’s girlfriend is, unbeknownst to her, from a family of werewolf hunters. This is all building into a detailed history for the town, the hunters, and for the town, three forces in a dangerous triangle, all at the mercy of the alpha werewolf, who must be someone in town, and likely someone whom the audience has already met.

The recent episodes have done well in building us suspicion, creating several characters in the town who are shifty-eyed and seem to react strangely when people talk about the werewolf who is attacking people – only the alpha is violent toward civilians.

The most impressive aspect of the show’s writing is the grayness with which the “sides” of this conflict are presented. Other than the mysterious Alpha, no one in the story seems to be a real bad-guy, everyone is just reacting to the stresses that the situation has put them under.

If you haven’t checked out Teen Wolf yet, I would encourage you to do so, it’s too well-crafted not to at least give a chance. Luckily the series is available on MTV.com for your streaming pleasure.

New Episodes air on MTV Mondays at 10pm EST.