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The Vampire Diaries

An Ode to Teen Wolf (Or, How We Came to Love This Silly, Shirtless High School Show)

Maybe it’s all the gratuitous ab flashes, its ‘80s movie roots, or the Spock-like ears the lead sports when fully transformed, but MTV’s Teen Wolf gets easily dismissed. We have to admit, the first few episodes of Season 1 didn’t exactly hint at greatness, but the show’s sophomore year has proved itself beyond its pedigree. In Season 2, TW definitely found the perfect combination of pretty people frolicking, sharp one-liners, and character development to erase it from our “DVR of Shame” list.

Extraordinarily ordinary
One of the show’s most impressive feats is its ability to balance both the “Teen” and the “Wolf” sides of its premise. Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) is an average high schooler who suddenly attains fantastic abilities. But that doesn’t mean his everyday concerns fall by the wayside. We love The Vampire Diaries, but none of the characters ever worry about anything as ordinary as a chemistry final (though they do attend a lot of dances). The stakes are just as high in Beacon Hills as they are in Mystic Falls, but just because “Don’t Die” is at the top of the priority list, it doesn’t suddenly mean your Econ teacher will let you slide on homework assignment after homework assignment.

And even when they are trying to outrun lizards, hunters, alphas, and grandpas, Scott and Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) still care about being on the lacrosse team, winning over their dream girls, and remaining best friends. The werewolf mythology is fun, but it’s the moments in between the fight scenes and takedown plots that really make the show.

Avoiding the Parent Trap
Often on supernatural teen shows, parents are either completely missing or totally clueless about the horrors going on around them. Curfews and missed meals are still things Scott and his friends have to worry about. It’s nice to see a show where parents not only factor in to their teenagers’ daily lives but where they are also allowed to participate in and drive the plot forward. Victoria Argent (Eaddy Mays) was a Grade-A villain, but both Allison’s (Crystal Reed) father, Chris (JR Bourne), and Scott’s mother, Melissa (Melissa Ponzio), have been key players in the drama in Season 2.

While Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s mom was mostly relegated to the sidelines, Melissa jumps right into investigation mode almost immediately after learning her son is a werewolf. Unlike some of the Pretty Little Liars’ parents, Mrs. McCall gets to do more than go on dates. And although Sheriff Stilinski (Linden Ashby) is in the dark when it comes to the supernatural elements in town, he and his son have an otherwise open and solid relationship that allows them to talk about sports, girls, and ongoing police investigations.

Bad as it wants to be
Allison went to some dark places in Season 2 of Teen Wolf, leaving her relationship with Scott — one of the core fundamentals of the show — in tatters. Additionally, one of the main characters transformed into a killing machine with a pile of bodies left to account for. It will be interesting to see how Allison or Jackson (Colton Haynes) will deal with the people (or monsters) they became these past few months.

Not so serious
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if we should be laughing at or with Teen Wolf. Case in point: Gerard’s angry bellowing of “mountain ash!” before transforming into geezer geyser of black vomit was a moment designed to be GIFed the hell out of, right? There are enough of Stiles’s one-liners and intentionally funny scenes that we don’t mind when TW dips into Cheesy Town. In fact, it makes the heart-tugging moments (like half the interactions between Stiles and his dad) more impactful.

And, hey, the shirtless scenes aren’t so bad, either.

08.16.2012 / 02:01 AM EDT by Jenny McGrath
Related: The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf

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