When it was originally on: 2011-2017
Original network: MTV
Where you can stream it now: Amazon Prime
Had I seen it before: No. I also hadn’t seen the 1985 Michael J. Fox movie that served as the source material.
What IMDb says: An average high school student and his best friend get caught up in some trouble causing him to receive a werewolf bite. As a result they find themselves in the middle of all sorts of dramas in Beacon Hills.
Why I picked it: As I tried to find basic cable original scripted programming for The List, I realized that this isn’t quite as common as I initially thought. While MTV has shied away from scripted shows in more recent years, they did have one hit in the ’10s, Teen Wolf. I was actually surprised to see this one was on for six seasons, which is still a respectable run even by network standards.
Teen Wolf always seemed to be more of a cult show than a mainstream hit, which is intriguing to me since a lot of teen-oriented shows are engineered to be mainstream hits, at least among their target audiences. The only other cult-y teen show I can think of is Freaks & Geeks which slowly accrued its following over time and not during its original run. The combination of fantasy elements, cult success, and basic cable distribution made Teen Wolf List potential.
What I liked: This one gave me some Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes in its ability to balance routine high school conflict with its supernatural elements. For the most part, we’re just watching Scott do normal high school things. He’s worried about making first line on the lacrosse team and asking the new girl out. The werewolf aspect of the show actually has relatively little relevance, but yet the show finds a way to be charming and entertaining anyways. Scott is a pretty generic protagonist, but he’s also charismatic enough that it didn’t become a real problem.
I also think they did a great job of letting the Derek character be mysterious enough that he could be a villain, but it also didn’t feel like too much of a bait-and-switch when he ended up not being a villain. Yet he’s also mysterious enough that if we learn he IS a villain 3-4 episodes from now, that arc could work too if done correctly. He provides just the right dash of supernatural elements, serving as a gateway to a whole world of undercover werewolves.
What I didn’t like: While this isn’t a dealbreaker for me, I will say that the show doesn’t have quite the budget it needs for its more supernatural premise. If you really want your television to look cinematic, Teen Wolf will probably disappoint you.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Yes! It looks like it could be a lot of fun without being anything I need to take too seriously, just fun fantasy escapism. Yes.