Sexualized Saturdays: Sex is Magic! …Or Not: Teen Wolf’s Surprisingly Low-Key Take on Sex

Let’s talk about sex. Sure, it’s magical, but sometimes it’s literally magical. One of my favorite things about speculative fiction is its ability take something ordinary and add a supernatural level to it, creating thought-provoking analogies and metaphors about various aspects of the human condition. Sex is one example of an arena sci-fi/fantasy media can explore in this way. Unfortunately, this is also an aspect that can lead to some pretty uncool tropes, from mystical pregnancies to magical virgins and everything in between. Imagine my surprise, that while watching Teen Wolf, I saw a show where characters’ sex lives were separate from their supernatural lives.

Are they gonna just lay in bed and talk all night? Maybe!

Are they gonna just lie in bed and talk all night? Maybe!

To start with, let me explain what we don’t see on Teen Wolf. Let’s turn our attention to the quintessential supernatural teen drama of yesteryear, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show’s supernatural plotlines are full of aspects of the human, in particular adolescent, experiences upped up to preternatural levels. Sex is no exception. Buffy losing her virginity to Angel in Season 2 was the catalyst for all of the main overarching Big Bad plot conflict for the rest of the season. Granted, it was merely the act of them having sex and granting him “true happiness” which made him lose his soul; the loss of virginity was more or less incidental. In the Season 4 episode “Where the Wild Things Are”, it is the power of repressed sexuality that is the foundation for a poltergeist haunting of a home for “wayward teens” turned frat building, and Buffy and Riley’s marathon sex session fuels the haunting to new heights. Sex can very literally be magic in Buffy.

You know who always ruins camping tent sexytimes? Evil druids. (and also bugs)

You know who always ruins camping tent sexytimes? Evil druids. (and also bugs)

Contrast this with Teen Wolf. So far there hasn’t been a single instance of any of the characters having sex, for the first time or otherwise, that has had supernatural repercussions. There was certainly a time when virginity was a little important, life-threatening even: an evil druid was performing virgin sacrifices in Season 3A. Luckily this didn’t last long, as virgins were just one of a variety of specific groups of three victims required for the sacrifices. And while any time that virginity is a plot point in speculative fiction has potential to be troublesome, Teen Wolf actually used this moment to do something pretty neat: not only was one of the virgin sacrifices a guy, breaking long-standing conventions that virginity is a “girl thing”, it also blew heteronormativity straight out of the water. One of the other victims was one half of a same-sex couple, specifically a female-female couple, the implication being that had the two gotten to have sex, the girl would no longer have been suitable as a virgin sacrifice.

Now, all discussions of and attempts at quantifying and constructing virginity are archaic, unnecessarily invasive, and not to mention, in the end, pointless; in addition, it’s also something used to delegitimize same-sex sex (“If it isn’t P-in-V, it isn’t real”). This is particularly used to discredit or attack lesbian sex—“How do lesbians even have sex?!” and “she’s still a virgin if she’s never been penetrated [by a penis]” are just two common expressions of this mentality. So I think it’s really notable that Teen Wolf chose to include a same-sex couple as part of this storyline; while it’s still invasive and unnecessary to impose concepts of virginity on same-sex couples, in its own way, the storyline validated the equality of same-sex sex on the same ground as hetero sex.

Scott Allison condom

“We Protect Ourselves”—Argent code of sex

The fun thing is, we have no clue when exactly the main characters lost their virginity in Teen Wolf. We know Mama McCall found condoms (a nearly empty box in fact) in Scott’s room while he was with Allison, but we don’t know when they actually did the deed for the first time. Likewise, by now we have seen Kira in bed with Scott, but there’s been no magical moment where suddenly we know they’ve had sex. Lydia is shown to be sexually active for as long as we’ve known her, whether in a flashback with Jackson at the end of Season 2, with rebound guy in the Season 3A opener, or her initiating a fuckbuddy relationship with Aiden. This is truly fantastic because it points to an important reality: having sex does not fundamentally alter you as a person. If anything, this almost blasé attitude is actually slightly odd for Teen Wolf, since for newer or less trained werewolves (like Scott in the earlier seasons when he was with Allison), any kind of arousal was likely to trigger the beginnings of a transformation; one can only wonder what full-on sex and orgasm would do!

If anyone was overly concerned about sex, it was Stiles; often frustrated in earlier seasons by his lack of romantic successes, he was excited about almost losing his virginity to a childhood friend at the beginning of Season 3A (before she became one of the aforementioned virgin sacrifices), and was terrified his virginity was going to cost him his life until they found out the druid was on to sacrificing other groups. Should virgin sacrifices show up on the menu again, we can only assume Stiles will not be a viable option anymore; he once showed Scott the scratch marks Malia left on his back early in Season 4! That line actually struck me as a surprisingly sexual thing for Stiles to say, and it made me realize how low-key overall his transition from “hopeless virgin” to studly sex-haver had been. Stiles has stayed the same old Stiles, still high-strung and fiercely loyal, still always ready with a witty quip, no major shift in personality making it possible to pinpoint when he became sexually active. So when exactly did Stiles lose his v-card? Who knows! Even in the infamous “Echo House” Stalia hookup, there’s nothing that definitively says Stiles and Malia had sex or how “far” they went; after all, they are fully clothed after, not the typical naked-in-the-bedsheets shorthand for a post-coital scene.

Stiles Malia Echo House

Just sex’d or no sex? Vote below!

For a teen drama,Teen Wolf has a remarkably mature look at sex. In many teen dramas (think WB standard Dawson’s Creek), sex is a source of near constant anxiety, especially in regards to the characters losing their virginity. In Teen Wolf, we have teens who don’t make a huge deal about their sexual activity, and certainly don’t let it define them. For a supernatural drama, Teen Wolf has a remarkably realistic look at sex. Obviously I in no way am implying that sex never has any repercussions or that adding it to a relationship can’t or doesn’t alter the relationship’s dynamics, but the show also doesn’t use its supernatural elements to be preachy or teach messages or morals about sex. I love that we don’t know when our Teen Wolf kids first had sex, because they are exactly the same people before and after. I love that we don’t know every detail of their sex lives. Cuz remember, in the end, it’s nobody’s fucking business if people are fucking.

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6 thoughts on “Sexualized Saturdays: Sex is Magic! …Or Not: Teen Wolf’s Surprisingly Low-Key Take on Sex

  1. What amazing observations! I love this. And by the way, a lot of people headcanon Kira/Scott as various iterations of an asexual couple — Kira’s demisexual, Kira’s asexual, sometimes even Kira’s asexual and Scott’s demisexual, etc. The “Are they gonna just lay in bed and talk all night? Maybe!” caption for that photo you use to open the whole thing is pretty great because it falls into line into that asexuality and maybe that meaning no-sex thing working for Scott/Kira… but in general I know that wasn’t really “the point” of this article and I also love all of the other things you wrote about! 😉

    Remember, the show also had Danny/Ethan sex stuff in a hotel scene, a scene that was surprisingly… not all about the sex. Talking about scars in bed and stuff. Awesomely realistic and sweet. 😉 A very healthy view toward what sex lives can be!

  2. Having grown up with Buffy and Dawson’s Creek, I was anticipating a “big moment” with Scott and Allison, especially since they did make a big deal about arousal being a trigger for transformation. But that never happened. Instead, we get the box of condoms scene that was so great because a lot of shows that have the “big moment” gloss over the safer sex aspect. Plus we think Mrs. McCall is going to freak out but really she ends up advocating for Scott and Allison.

    • it really is so unconventional compared to other shows! on the one hand, i gotta respect Buffy and the metaphor for “i finally give the guy sex and then our relationship changes and he changes and is a jerk” and all the serious repercussions of sex. but too often mystifying sex (whether literally or figuratively) just causes anxiety for teens. think about how much time spent (wasted) by the teens on Dawson’s Creek waxing philosophical about their impending loss of virginity! even Stiles’s main feeling about his virginity is one of anxiety/panic. also, i do love how they made a deal of condoms; both with Scott and when Stiles was gonna do it in the wine cellar with his friend. in fact one of the articles i linked to suggested that could be a possible case AGAINST Stiles and Malia having sex in “Echo House”, since they didn’t mention protection, and it’s unlike the show to do that.

      that said, sometimes it seems almost too low-key after setting up what arousal does to werefolk. what about scott’s first time if making out made him start shifting? what about Malia who has only been a human again for a little while, for the first time in a sexually mature body? all in all, it’s neat to see teens who dont let the status of their sexual activity define them or cause them undue anxiety. hoping more shows do this in the future!

  3. Pingback: Sexualized Saturdays: Teen Sex! Teen Sex? | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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