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TV Review | Guilty pleasure ‘Teen Wolf’ surprises with solid entertainment

Published: Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 08:02

  “Teen Wolf” is the paragon of guilty pleasure television. Populated by attractive supernatural teenagers who fight bad guys while aggressively cool music thumps in the background, the plotlines are convoluted and often downright ridiculous, but, despite its flaws, “Teen Wolf” is a surprisingly good show.

The MTV series has endeared itself to viewers by not trying to be a serious drama like the “Twilight” films. Instead, the show acknowledges and plays with the overall goofiness of the genre, doling out occasional one-liners to let the audience know that everyone is in on the joke. It’s a bit ridiculous to have so many crime-solving werewolf teenagers disrupting the peace of the fictional city of Beacon Hills. Yet we’re still watching.

As the series has progressed, it has also matured. What was once a lighthearted, fun-yet-campy show is now, in the second half of its third season, an excellently paced drama worthy of a credible television network. Due to the show’s popularity, the writers have taken risks, telling a more interesting story. By venturing beyond the land of silly teen TV, “Teen Wolf” has transformed into a suspenseful, delicious show with enough twists and turns to make “Scandal” (2012-present) jealous. Each episode is pure entertainment, with a series of cliffhangers punctuated by sassy dialogue and shirtless men. Underneath its shiny surface is excellent writing and cinematography. The pacing of the show is phenomenal and underappreciated. It’s an addictive viewing experience that forces fans to keep their eyes peeled and their attention undivided.

“Teen Wolf” also boasts fully defined characters. Show writers are twisting teen show archetypes into real, believable humans (or werewolves). The main character, Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), is not just the likable-yet-average protagonist. Posey portrays him as a loyal and intelligent high schooler — albeit one leading an unconventional life. Scott is ultimately just a teenager trying to navigate love, friendship and supernatural bad guys.

Another great character and, arguably the best on the show, is Scott’s best friend Stiles, the typical sarcastic sidekick played by Dylan O’Brien. What makes the character so compelling is that O’Brien brings a depth to Stiles, showing a fragility and pain beyond his sardonic wit. O’Brien is probably the best young actor on this show. Viewers get more insight into his character as the season progresses. Stiles is finally maturing into the pivotal character he was always meant to be.

“Teen Wolf” has some excellent, strong female characters as well. In the first season, Allison (Crystal Reed) and Lydia (Holland Roden) were little more than love interests, prizes for their brooding boyfriends. But by the second half of the third season, they have become heroes in their own right. Allison is now a hunter of the supernatural, and Lydia is no longer the archetypal popular girl. Instead she is caring, and an independent genius. She doesn’t need a man — but she will always help her friends. Even Scott’s mother, the supermom Mrs. McCall (Melissa Ponzio), has developed as a character. She is quickly becoming the rock that all the teenagers depend on, dispensing some pretty useful advice. When “Teen Wolf” decided to start treating its female characters like people instead of props, it ascended into quality television territory. Other shows like it should take note.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that at least one fairly beautiful person takes off his shirt every episode. “Teen Wolf” is still a guilty pleasure. There are still cheesy lines that I can’t believe were actually scripted, and the show’s crazy, raging house parties seem like they’re thrown by minor celebrities. However, if you look past the camp, you’ll find a genuinely good show. “Teen Wolf” may be the paragon of guilty pleasure television, but, in this case, that is certainly not an insult.

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