Maybe this should have been titled “Why a 47 year old man loves a supernatural show aimed at teenagers on a channel that considers 25 to be too old.” But I digress. TEEN WOLF is now in it’s fourth season having debuted on MTV in 2011. It’s popular enough that it’s one of the strongest series on the cable channel but I hardly hear a peep about it from my friends. That may have more to say about my age and the ages of my friends than I care to admit, but trust me when I say that you should be watching this show. Here are five reasons why:
1. THIS AIN’T MICHAEL J. FOX IN BAD WEREWOLF MAKEUP
When I first heard about a series called TEEN WOLF, I let out an audible groan. People may not be old enough to remember that Michael Landon originally played the part in the 1957 movie I WAS A TEENAGED WEREWOLF, but they certainly remembered the cheesy 80s movie starring Michael J. Fox. A basketball-playing werewolf with yuk-yuks straight out of a bad sitcom wasn’t a blueprint for success. That it was an hour-long series for MTV whose average audience finds it hard to sit through a five minute clip on YouTube didn’t bode well either. But it being summer with very little to watch, I put my enormous reservations aside and gave it a try. Except for the title and a couple of character names, the two couldn’t be more different. Don’t let the stale memories of a bad movie taint your perception. Be of an open mind! I know you can do it!
2. IF YOU LOVED BUFFY…
It’s hard to believe for this diehard fan but BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and its spinoff ANGEL have been off the air for 11 and 10 years respectively. Since that time many series have tried and failed to recapture their mix of humor, horror and pop culture awareness. Even Joss Whedon couldn’t do it with DOLLHOUSE and FIREFLY (I may get some hate email for that last one!). But BUFFY and ANGEL fans finally have a series that deftly carries the torch. Fun but never mocking, scary in all the right places and filled with teen angst that nevertheless feels relevant to a diverse audience, TW ambitiously weaves a compelling story with supernatural elements and just enough bare chested males to keep the teen girl audience swooning without alienating an old guy like me. If you’ve missed the Scooby Gang, then look no further than here.
3. A SMART SERIES? YOU BET.
TW doesn’t talk down to its audience. It refuses to be defined as “just” a teen show. It doesn’t take the easy out by being summer fluff. In addition to the werewolf angle (however far that will take you as a premise) it’s also about friendship, loyalty and trust. It’s about heroism in the face of impossible odds. It’s about finding yourself and your place in the world. It’s about when to conform and when to break away. It’s about love and loss. Those are universal themes that can and should speak to anyone of any age. Women also play a huge role in the series. Thankfully most are not victims. They’re strong, smart, witty and powerful. They’re leaders every bit as much as the title character. All that plus there are werewolves, monster hunters, and ancient Japanese warriors? Bonus, bonus and jackpot!
4. MYTHOLOGY CAN BE YOUR FRIEND
What started out as a fairly straightforward tale (boy gets bitten by a werewolf, boy turns into a werewolf by the light of a full moon) slowly turned into a series with a deep mythology. The history of lycanthropes dates back centuries and TW revels in it. From an ancient family of hunters whose sole mission is to wipe them from the face of the planet, to the hierarchy of wolf packs, to how and why a human is turned in the first place, this series has it all. It’s not complicated or so dense that it makes following it a chore however. The mythology is part of the fun and is handled in a believable, entertaining way by a cast that is game for anything. It’s been fun to watch this group of mostly young, inexperienced actors grow over four years into seasoned veterans capable of all the humor, drama and depth this series has to offer.
5. NO VAMPIRES ALLOWED!
Yup. I’m just as tired of vampires as the rest of you. Nope. No sparkly vampires that walk in daylight. No vampires that drink fake human blood to stay alive. No vampires that wear magical rings that allow them to attend high school. No vampire academies, interviews with vampires or civil war era presidents hunting vampires. No fangs period unless they come from the mouth of a wolf!
You now have a mission. Go to Netflix and watch the first three seasons of TEEN WOLF. Get caught up. You can thank me later!