[Warning: This post contains spoilers from the Teen Wolf series.]
I've recently succumbed to staunchly viewing MTV's series Teen Wolf. Let me preface this post by saying that I know the show looks dumb, but I adore it. From the pilot onward, I've been setting aside a dedicated portion of my time to keeping up with the bad luck that continues to plague a certain group of teenagers in Beacon Hills. I am not quite sure what I will do in four weeks when the current season concludes. So it's a fan's tough love speaking when I want to rip into how "Teen Wolf" treats its female characters.
Very loosely based on the 80's flick of the same name, "Teen Wolf" follows a freshly bitten former outcast, Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), and his adorable and sarcastic best friend, Stiles Stilinski (Dylan O'Brien), as they help each other navigate and survive the ever-unfolding drama of the werewolf world, all the while trying to maintain some semblance of a normal teenage life (the ultimate struggle). Although the chiseled, aggressive men undoubtedly give the series a macho bent, this addictive blend of adolsecence and the paranormal is not without a solid cast of women—and after nearly three full seasons of dude-centric story arcs, I think it's time that the women of "Teen Wolf" got their fair share of the show's plot.
Admittedly, it might be futile to expect better female representation from an MTV program, but what makes the show's stunted women particularly frustrating is that the series holds so much promise for unleashing some badass woman-focused character growth and plot development, but for some reason it just hasn't happened (yet).
Almost every female character is given a few interesting traits and provoking potential, but she never ascends beyond that. Caught up in one of the guy's problems and motivating his story line, each female character is relegated to the role of plot device rather than complex character.
In fact, many women are killed off before they even get a chance to grow (that is, if they aren't already dead to begin with). Needless to say, the show could definitely benefit from reexamining how it handles its women before that body count increases, and the first step is to stop holding these women back from being on par with the guys.
Let's take a minute to review the three women who've managed to survive since the first episode.
Born to a family of werewolf hunters, Allison (Crystal Reed) is Scott's on-again off-again girlfriend and one of the show's core characters.
How she's awesome: On the whole, Allison is a sweet and caring individual, but she's proven herself as more than just a kind face—or at least, she's proven that she really, really wants to be more than that. Aware of the men who influence too much of her life—Scott on the one hand, her dad and ridiculously tenacious grandfather on the other—Allison has grown resistant to the notion of being considered weak. Combine this pent up desire for independence with her impressive knack for archery and you have a character desperately in need her own story arc.
How she's held back: Allison is trained for combat, but she is clearly Scott's love-interest first and a huntress second. When she isn't talking to Scott, she's talking about Scott, or acting with him in mind. Athough her intentions range between wanting to kiss him and wanting to kill him, Allison's entire character revolves around Scott, even in the context of her family who uses her as a vehicle to strengthen their longstanding vendetta against the werewolves.
The most popular girl in school, Lydia (Holland Roden) is Allison's best friend and Stiles's childhood crush.
How she's awesome: Lydia has the most to work with out of all her female colleagues. Although portrayed as shallow, she's revealed to be one of the most intelligent people at Beacon Hills High without falling into a stereotypical nerd trope; she's smart and feminine all at once, much in the fashion of a slightly cynical version of Legally Blonde's Elle Woods. She cares deeply for her friends and often uses her sharp wit to help the gang survive in tight situations.
How she's held back: Like Allison, most if not all of Lydia's conversations and actions revolve around one of the guys. Her bite from an alpha granted her some yet-to-be explained clairvoyance that has not been exhibited by anyone else on the show, foreshadowing her potentially crucial role in upcoming episodes. But her newfound powers have so far only served as a method to bring werewolf Peter Hale (Ian Bohen) back from the dead, literally using her as a vessel to progress a male character's development.
A single parent, Melissa (Melissa Ponzio) is Scott's mother and a nurse at what appears to be the only hospital in town.
How she's awesome: In short, Ms. McCall is a saint. Her love for her son is unwavering, even after discovering that he's undergoing a transformation much hairer than puberty, and her compassion more-or-less extends to the entire student body of Beacon Hills High. Melissa is quickly accepting the supernatural as part of her reality and even connected some of the dots to this season's mystery more aptly than the town detective. Oh, and she saves lives.
How she's held back: When she's not worrying about Scott, she's used as bait, and in turn has become someone that Scott needs to protect rather than vice-versa. The first date she went on in ages turned out to be a set up to lure Scott into joining the Alpha pack. The show seriously needs to cut this woman some slack, and maybe give her someone to hang out with who isn't a brooding teenage boy.
Although we've lost some women to male plot points, we've also gained new faces--and just as Lydia's cryptic powers are about to be explored. With any luck, guidance counselor Mrs. Morrell (Bianca Lawson), Derek Hale's sister Cora (Adelaide Kane), and Alpha member Kali (Felishia Terrell) are entering on an upswing for female plot arcs and more screentime for the characters of color. (Too hopeful? Maybe.)
You have some awesome and compelling women, Teen Wolf. Trust them enough to let them break into the foreground.