Let’s talk about MTV’s Teen Wolf.
As a feminist and lover of pretty much all things pop-culture related, I feel like I can easily take in a television show or film and inadvertently “grade” it on how well it measures up in its representation of women and other minority groups. Such a habit comes from being media literate and understanding the problematic ways women are often represented in our popular culture overall.
Going back to that whole “grading” thing I tend to do, I’d have to give Teen Wolf an A+, because damn if it is not a great TV show and also one of my biggest guilty pleasures that I really don’t feel so guilty about anymore.
The plot of show, now in its fifth season, is pretty basic: a teenager, Scott McCall, is bitten by a werewolf and becomes a werewolf himself. Scott and his friends must deal with the repercussions of Scott’s transformation and how it affects each of their lives.
The show, which starts out in relatively the same way as the 1985 Teen Wolf starring Michael J. Fox, has evolved drastically from its humble, if not corny, beginnings. Almost everything has improved from day one, especially the show’s representation of its female characters.
Teen Wolf features a pretty strong cast of female characters throughout the series, most notably the character Allison Argent, who started out as Scott’s love interest. While the love story between Allison and Scott is a major part of the story, so is the fact that Allison comes from a long line of werewolf (and other monster) hunters that are led by the women of the family. We see her evolve over the seasons from a love-struck teenage girl into an empowered warrior who is just as much a leader as Scott.
Lydia Martin is another notable female character. Lydia starts out fitting the trope of the stereotypically ditzy, beautiful, popular girl — but that eventually changes. Over the course of the first three seasons, it is slowly revealed how intelligent and powerful Lydia actually is. Slowly, through her relationships and character development, she drops her trope’s pretense to reveal her true intelligence and power as a woman. This is even more evident in the current season, in which we see Lydia learning to physically defend herself, focusing on protecting herself without relying on others to simply save her.
While Lydia and Allison are just two examples, it is also important to note newer additions to the show, such as Kira and Malia who are both strong, complex, and layered female characters—something not often seen on “teen” shows.
Overall, while there are other reasons this show is amazing, Teen Wolf definitely wins an A+ in my book for awesome, strong female characters.
Courtney Harchaoui holds her Master’s degree in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of Cincinnati. She loves all things feminist + pop culture related.
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