Why Teen Wolf is the Most Feminist Show on Television

22 Jan

by Johan Clarke 

Teen Wolf.

The two words invoke fear in the hearts of my friends. Maybe because I talk about it constantly due to my obsession and they are afraid I am going to start drooling again. Maybe because the name is so bad that the show must be equally awful and they worry for my sanity if I think such a bad show can be that good.

But my friends who judge a book by its cover don’t know that it is, in my opinion, the most feminist show on television right now.

I guess nobody learned from their mistake with Cougar Town automatically thinking a show with a bad name must be bad. Except Cougar Town is on a respectable channel. Teen Wolf is on MTV. The channel with Jersey Shore. The lowest of the low. Those who blindly bash Teen Wolf also probably completely forgot about the existence of Daria. MTV can have good, intelligent shows. And what’s even better is that, surprise, they have the best soundtracks on television.

But how can a supernatural romance be feminist? Twilight brought us back 50 years in our efforts. Even True Blood is not that progressive with its women. Somehow, Sookie Stackhouse continuously finds herself defining her life based on the drawn-out love triangle between Bill and Eric.

Well, here’s the secret. Teen Wolf is not a romance. It’s something us fans have been keeping from all of you the entire time. Or, it’s not a romance in the traditional sense. Yes, there is a very important romantic relationship in the show. Everyone knows Scott and Allison love each other. And it is this simplicity that breaks the bods of gag-inducing saccharine. By episode 3, they’re a couple and that story sits lingering on the back burner. What is brought out, however, is the tension that Allison’s father is trying to kill Scott because he is a werewolf-hunter. If you think I’ve spoilt something for you, new fans, I’m happy to tell you that this happens in the first episode. A lot goes on in this show.

Here is where you might want to stop reading if you’re worried about spoilers.

Lydia, another character on the show, smashes the idea of HBIC to pieces. She is they typical pretty one who rules the school, except the reason she rules the school is because she can work the system with her heightened intelligence. She is the smartest one in the series, constantly analyzing people and using her knowledge to get people to do what she wants. She does not bat her lashes or stick her chest out. She out-logics you to put you in your place.

In regards to the batting of her lashes, there is a pivotal moment in the first season finale where she goes missing for two days and comes back naked and with no memory. Typical, right? Exploit the woman and show as much as possible while trying to integrate it somehow into the story. Here’s the thing. That is one of the very few times when female skin is shown. Don’t get me wrong. This show is not conservative with the amount of skin it shows. The thing is: it’s almost all men. In fact, the first shot in the entire series is Scott shirtlessly doing pull-ups. This completely turns the whole gender roles on its head. The boys are the sluts showing everything off.

Not to mention the women are the ones who are the most defined characters. Lydia, in my opinion, has the most intriguing storyline in the entire show. Because of the events mentioned earlier, Lydia gets PTSD and begins to have terrible flashbacks for the rest of the show. They do not forget that she went through a serious trauma and they show the consequences that happen to her rather than pushing it aside to talk about men.

Now, there is still the character Erica Reyes, the loser who suddenly becomes beautiful after being turned, yet even she has a strong story. First of all, her alienation from schoolmates was not due to her ugliness, it was due to her epilepsy, commenting on bullying and the unfair treatment of kids with illnesses in schools. Then, when she does become beautiful, it highlights just how shallow teen society really is. The show does not endorse this image, it tears it down and shows its faults.

Now, here’s the real kicker where you really need to stop reading or else I will ruin the season two finale for you. The one problem I still had while watching is that Allison and Lydia are still the love interests in the show. Despite Lydia having made great strides for women by portraying the aftermath of trauma on women, she is still there for Jackson, another prettyboy on the show. When Jackson becomes a terrifying creature because he has no identity, it is Lydia who gives him one.

Wait, what? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Women can never be complete unless they have a man in their life. At least, that is what Twilight taught me. Except, nope, this time it is the woman who defines the man, who gives the man meaning to life, who gives the man an identity, who saves the man. She becomes the hero, her love saves him (you do need some sap), and he becomes the damsel in distress.

Now, for Allison. She is still only there to be the love interest for Scott. Until she dumps him. When her mother must kill herself because she has been turned into a werewolf and has no way of being able to cope with it for risk of her family (I told you this was a heavy show), Allison realizes she cannot be with him. Her familial bond is too strong and she must do the right thing for her mother’s memory. And she breaks up with him. And he accepts it. He does not say no. He does not argue. He deals with it. Granted, he says that eventually they will get back together again, but at least he does not treat her as an object. Allison becomes a free-thinking human.

I don’t know why they kept the name Teen Wolf for this show. Something about the stereotype of the teenage image makes it seem like this show would be stupid and cheezy. Well, please, give this show a chance. It is smart, feminist, and well-written. Also, it is known for having lots of pecs and abs. If that’s your thing.

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Why Teen Wolf is the Most Feminist Show on Television”

  1. DEFINITELY NOT Johan Clarke January 23, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    Whoever wrote this must be very intelligent. And sexy. I know I’m going to start watching Teen Wolf now.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fabulous Feminist Fridays: What movies or T.V. shows speak to your brand of feminism or have inspired you to be a feminist? « Feminists-at-Large - February 1, 2013

    […] of course, we can’t forget Johan Clarke’s assessment of Teen […]

  2. Teen Wolf and Feminism Part 3: Rape Culture and the Female Gaze | Lady Geek Girl and Friends - April 9, 2013

    […] Why Teen Wolf is the Most Feminist Show on Television […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: