Werewolves have never really been the most popular monster; they’re usually second fiddle to vampires or zombies. I suppose there’s some sense to that. Vampires are sexy romantics and zombie hoards are harbingers of the apocalypse. Werewolves usually act alone, and, outside of Twilight and Teen Wolf, aren’t typically portrayed as having much sex appeal. In 1941, The Wolf Man became the first successful werewolf film. Our monster has a furry face, spreads his affliction through biting others, kills people, and is ultimately killed by his own silver walking stick. He’s monstrous, not sexy. We can understand why vampires and zombies scare us, too. Vampires might represent a powerful person draining us of our own power for personal gain. Zombies drawn on our fear of pandemics and the ignorant masses destroying those of us just trying to survive. But what about werewolves? The most common answer I find is that werewolves speak to the changes a teenager experiences during puberty. Pisces already explored how this dynamic works in Teen Wolf. But if that’s the case, then where are all the female werewolves?
Uncontrollable urges, animalistic appetites and aggression, hair growing in new and unusual places: these are the trials and struggles of any nascent werewolf. Or teenager. In my eyes, the young lycanthropes of Teen Wolf provide a metaphor for the trials faced by any young man going through puberty, both socially and physically.
The series Teen Wolf—based very loosely on a comedy movie from the eighties by the same name—has had two fairly successful seasons thus far. Between the rise of stories like Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, it seems to be riding on the success of its predecessors. At the very least it started out that way, before moving on to become its own story. And one of its goals was clearly to be as far away from Twilight as humanly possible. Of course there’s still the shitty romance, but unlike Bella and Edward, Scott and Allison—our new star-crossed lovers—are surprisingly well-thought out characters. When they’re not together.
It is still based around the forbidden-romance trope, though, which I find annoying. Oftentimes, the forbidden romance presents itself but does little to justify the relationship. It can—and often does—involve stalking and emotional abuse and then calling that love, but usually all this trope does is show why the relationship should be forbidden in the first place before asking the audience to agree with it. Twilight, being one of the more prominent examples, is my case in point. And all the newer shows, movies, and books riding on its success like to copy that formula, mistaking the difference between stakes and an unhealthy relationship.
Fortunately, we can thank Teen Wolf for not doing that. As annoying as the love story can be, it is one of the healthier relationships I’ve seen in the forbidden-romance trope. And even though Teen Wolf is marketed toward a female audience and that’s probably the main reason the romance between Scott and Allison is played out the way it is, it is not handled the way I would expect it to be in a love story. While a relationship with Allison may be Scott’s driving motivation, it is not what’s driving the plot.
We can give Teen Wolf credit in that it doesn’t forget to tell a story in light of the romance.