Critics’ Roundtable: “Teen Wolf”


With the chart-topping ranks the men of Teen Wolf found themselves at in this year’s Hot 100 readers’ poll, it’s obvious that Tyler Posey, Dylan O’Brien, Tyler Hoechlin, Daniel Sharman and Keahu Kahuanui are favorites.

But how is the actual show doing?

The MTV werewolf drama kicked off season 3 recently, so we gathered a few critics together to  talk about the creative strength of the show, how the new cast additions (Charlie and Max Carver) are doing and who we’d like to see more of.

Making up this Roundtable  is Damian Holbrook (Senior Writer, TV Guide Magazine), Heather Hogan (Senior Editor,, Andy Swift (Senior Entertainment Editor, and our own Entertainment Reporter, Jim Halterman.       

Is this the kind of puppy love that is better suited for Scott (Tyler Posey)?

The show has pulled back on the Scott/Allison love story considerably compared to earlier seasons. Do we need more of that or are you not missing it?

Heather Hogan: No, we do not need more of it. No, I am not missing it. Teen Wolf’s biggest problem has always been that it doesn’t know what to do with its female characters. Lydia spends most of her time screaming and crying. Allison spends most of her time making out with Scott or looking like the saddest beagle puppy in a Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial because she’s not making out with Scott. I mean, Allison has all the makings of a true Batman. She’s got the skills, the gadgets, the money, the dead family. She should be out fighting the forces of evil all the time like she did in [last] week’s episode, not staring out the window pining away for the moment when Scott will climb up onto her roof and/or rescue her form the clutches of death.

Damian Holbrook: I actually don’t miss it. I like the idea of Scott being on his own so that he can evolve into the Alpha he is going to be. Plus, I find it very interesting what they’re setting up between Allison and Isaac, given Scott’s friendship with Isaac. Well see if there is a bro code among werewolves.

Andy Swift: I don’t miss the angst of Scott and Allison struggling to stay together, but I do miss their relationship. It was nice when it felt like Scott had something to fight for — even when he was literally fighting HER. Also, I wanted to reach through my TV and strangle Scott when he was getting all weepy about Allison on the season premiere. (You’re a wolf, damn it! Start acting like one!) In short, I’d like to see them back together, but without complications.

Jim Halterman: As is evident with this week’s new episode, I like the start of the love triangle with Isaac and what that will do for Scott, who obviously still has feelings for her. That triangle looks like it’s going to take its time, and I’m find with that. Still, I would like to see Scott and Allison hooking up with someone! I mean, these are young, hot people. Let’s see them get on top of other young, hot people.

teen-wolf-holland-roden-dylan-obrienShould Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) have moved on from Lydia (Holland Roden), like, yesterday?

Do Stiles and Lydia just need to jump each others bones already?

Heather Hogan: I have a hard time imagining Stiles jumping any girl’s bones. And I’m not saying that because Sterek fandom has me chained up to a car battery like a regular old Derek Hale. Before Teen Wolf’s slash fandom really took off, before I’d even heard the phrase “Sterek,” I was always hard pressed to believe that Stiles wanted to do it with chicks. His main deal has always been saving Scott from himself and saving the world with Derek. Sure, he was cute sharing a Reese’s with Lydia at that ice skating rink, but even then, the thing I was shipping was chocolate and peanut butter.

Damian Holbrook: No not yet! These two are the Xander and Cordelia of Beacon Hills, So I feel like they need one more season of simmering and earning the hookup. Granted, Stiles may need to have sex with someone soon if they are really killing virgins in town now, But it would be so great if he actually lost his V card to someone else and we saw Lydia get jealous of that. Besides, she’s going to be busy with one of the Alpha twins, Which could give Stiles the chance to play her hero if it goes horribly awry, which we know it will. I foresee a season finale moment of romantic reckoning for these two.

Andy Swift: Oh, Stiles. That boy’s been barking up the Lydia tree for so long, and with such minimal results, that I’m almost over it. Like most fans, I’ve resorted to shipping him with Derek (#TeamSterek!!!) and have forgotten about Stiles and Lydia entirely. However, if this new killer is really targeting virgins, then I’d LOVE for Lydia to sleep with Stiles. You know, just to make sure he’s safe.

Jim Halterman: I never got the Stiles/Lydia thing. It always felt to me like he was into her because he’s the other main dude and she’s the other main girl. And, come on, even seeing Stiles almost get some with the virgin who would end up dead was more exciting than anything I’ve seen with Lydia.

Isaac is playing a much larger role this season. What do you think he brings to the show? 

Heather Hogan: I’m having fun watching them try to figure out who Isaac is to the show and what his place is in the wolfpack. He was such an abused little pup last season, so it’s nice to see him becoming more empowered and more central to the show’s main conflicts. I think what sets him apart is that he actually seems to enjoy the world-saving and the life-threatening battles. He grins into the fist fights. He talks a little smack in a way that reminds me of Spider-Man. Derek is in brooding agony all the time and Scott still seems pissed that he’s been afflicted with lycanthropy, but Isaac seems happy to have finally found a home and a family and a sense of purpose. It’s a nice counterpoint.

Damian Holbrook: Isaac is probably the most emotionally damaged character on the show, given his abusive father. This is a kid who needs the fellowship of his pack and he’s slowly finding that, but I always felt that he may be the most tragic character as well. If he survives the season, I will be shocked.

Andy Swift: Other than a bevy of high-fashion scarves, not a whole lot. Isaac is another pretty face, which is always welcome, but I’m still not sure what his purpose is. It looks like the show is inching towards a Scott-Allison-Isaac love triangle, which could either be interesting or unnecessary. I guess time will tell. (Random side note: I wish they’d let Daniel Sharman keep his English accent. Have you watched previous interviews with him? Yowza.)

Jim Halterman: The first 2 seasons, I would always be surprised when Isaac would appear. Kinda like ’Oh, that guy is still around.’ But this season he’s coming across more formed and he’s being utilized much better. And the angst over his earlier abuse is a great emotional anchor that I think the show could have more of. (I have a feeling Sharman will score much higher on next year’s Hot 100 list!)

If Hot Teacher takes Derek’s stick, will we at least get a smile out of him?

Oh, Derek. Serious, sexy Derek. Does the hot one need to crack a smile once in awhile or is he what the show (and Scott) needs?

Heather Hogan: I think the only time we’ve ever seen Derek smile is before he feasted on Jackson in the season one finale. (Homo-eroticism count: one gazillion.) It might rip the space-time continuum in half if it started happening regularly. The whole show seems built around his mainpain narrative. It might lose its identity entirely if Derek found happiness.

Damian Holbrook: Derek needs way more shower scenes, possibly a slow motion workout sequence, and a love interest. It looks like he’s getting that with this new hot teacher lady, So hopefully that means we’ll get some adult love scenes (oh my God) and some smiles from a happier Derek somewhere later down the line. But my God, this man is perfect. How the women of Beacon Hills aren’t lining up to spend the full moon with him is beyond me.

Andy Swift: Derek looks hot no matter what he’s doing, including smiling. That said, I think I’d rather he remain angry and brooding. Between Stiles, Coach and occasionally Scott and Lydia, I feel like the show already has enough comic relief. One of the things I like about Teen Wolf is how unashamedly dark it is, even when it goes a little over the top, and Derek is kind of the gauge for that.

Jim Halterman: As long as he bones the new teacher (and we get to see it), I’ll be happy. But big thumbs up for giving us more Hale family in Cora and just opening that window for who Derek really was before the series started.

“Um…I’m number 
what on The Backlot Hot 100?”

Just when Cora/Boyd were going batshit crazy in last week’s episode, there was a brief, touching moment where Stiles sees the dead girl that he almost deflowered in the previous episode. Do you think Teen Wolf  needs more heartfelt moments like this or are fewer better?

Heather Hogan: I think Teen Wolf is making a smart decision to look for heartfelt moments outside of the show’s central romance with Allison and Scott. By the middle of last season, their love piano love theme and their forlorn mooning had become more than tedious. The real moments of pathos that stand out for me in previous seasons are the ones with Stiles and his dad, Scott and his mom, and that very last Lydia/Jackson scene in season two. Heartfelt moments are important for balance. We need the emotional gut punch to stay invested. Luckily for Teen Wolf, Dylan O’Brien can make anyone break down in tears just by frowning.

Damian Holbrook: I love that scene, and I love the scene in this week’s episode as well where the fatal consequences of what’s going on in this town begin to affect people emotionally. People are dying and it’s about time that they started addressing the fact that these are classmates and neighbors of these characters. I really found it a nice new aspect of the show.

Andy Swift: I think the show needs more heart-felt moments, but I wish they’d be a little more relevant to the viewers. I mean, we knew that sad virgin girl for like two seconds before she disappeared. I wish they had found a way to kill off Jackson and make THAT sad. I know Colton Haynes is on Arrow now, and he’s terrific, but I miss seeing him in Beacon Hills.

Jim Halterman: I definitely like it but if the show had more of them then they might not stand out like the Stiles moment mentioned above. It’s just always a nice reminder that even though these characters are dealing with life and death stakes everyday that something still matters to them.

For a show with so many hot teen characters, there’s not a lot of sex going on thus far this season. Does the show need more happy endings, so to speak?

Heather Hogan: Yes, for sure. Teen Wolf has been blue-balling us, especially on the Danny front, for years now. Enough foreplay already. Let’s do it.

Damian Holbrook: Normally I would say that every teen show should be wall-to-wall hormones on parade. But given the subject matter—we are talking about werewolves—the sex has to come at a slower pace, so that we have more action and scares. It’s not fully unreasonable to think that these kids would want to hop into bed after a night of running through the woods and finding their classmates strangled to death. That said, I need Scott’s mother and Derek’s hot uncle to get it on immediately.

Andy Swift: Sex aside, there just isn’t as much SKIN as there used to be, and that’s a serious problem. I miss Jackson filming himself shirtless for no reason. I miss Derek doing shirtless pull-ups for no reason. Hell, I even miss Lydia walking around the woods shirtless for no reason — so you know I must be getting desperate. So, yes, more skin and more sex please!

Jim Halterman: The show has always been markedly different from Vampire Diaries, but it could take a lesson in how that show uses sex and lust in the thread of their stories. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like anyone lusted after anyone else…hopefully that will change this season with potential love stories like Allison/Isaac, Derek/hot teacher, Stiles/anyone and Danny/Ethan.

Thankfully, we get to see lots of Danny (Keahu Kahuanui) in tonight’s episode.

Our Backlot readers repeatedly say they’d like to see more of Danny (Keahu Kahuanui), who we seem to get in small doses. Agree? Disagree?

Heather Hogan: Agree vehemently. At this point, even the guest stars are getting more screen time and character development than poor Danny. If Teen Wolf is really going to maintain its reputation for being progressively gay, it’s going to have to do more than showing Danny toss a quarter into a coffee mug and smile at a hot guy every once in a while. He’s pretty much a blank slate. We know hardly anything about him. They can color him in however they want. They just need to color him in. There’s apparently an actual relationship brewing for him. Here’s hoping it lasts longer than that lesbian one from [last] week. (Only the one gay death in Beacon Hills in 2013!)

Damian Holbrook: He’s a tertiary character, so we need smaller doses. However we see a good portion of him this week and the boy’s body was handcrafted by God, clearly. He’ll also be factoring more into the storyline as he gets involved with the other Alpha twin but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he remains an accessible, non-stereotypical gay character who resides within the world of the show without having to become a martyr or victim (or a werewolf, of course!)

Andy Swift: I’m torn on the Danny issue. He’s hot, so yes, I’d like to see MORE of him. But to be honest, he’s always felt like a superfluous character. Like, they needed a gay guy, so they just kind of threw him in there. The show gets a lot of praise for being inclusive, but not enough people point out that the show’s sole gay character is also its least developed. I’d like to see more of Danny IF he becomes more than just a one-dimensional character.

Jim Halterman: More Danny but only if we get to see more of who this guy is…it’s fun the way he pops up in this week’s episode but, as everyone here has said, he’s definitely the least developed of the regular characters. Give us a reason to love him other than his cute smile and ripped up body.

teen-wolf-charlie-carver-daniel-sharmanIsaac (Daniel Sharman) gets some unwanted attention from Ethan (Charlie Carver)

The Carver twins have definitely made their presence known on the show. What are your thoughts so far and what else would you like to see?

Heather Hogan: I’d like to see them open their mouths and say words.

Damian Holbrook: These are characters who need to crack a smile! I like their almost feral approach to the roles, and Aiden and Ethan are definitely angry boys. But God sakes, you have incredible bodies. Lightnen up and have some fun, guys.

Andy Swift: They certainly have made their presence known, but that’s about it. Have they even spoken yet? We’ve gotten little bits and pieces of what they’re all about so far, but nothing concrete. That said, they’re still holding my interest, especially since one of them appears to be gay — I couldn’t say which one if I tried — and is into Danny. Could Danny actually be getting a real storyline this season? That’s what I’m excited to see.

Jim Halterman: Finally this week we get to see a little more personality from them. Just seeming like hot robot twins the first few episodes was getting old fast. Yes, we know they’re there for a reason and there for Deucalion’s purposes, but aren’t they also teen boys? Just knowing they are bad isn’t necessarily enough when you can’t help but get the feeling they could be interesting characters, too.

Is Deucalion (Gideon Emery) scaring the bejeezus out of you yet?

What about the big bad in these early episodes – Deucalion? Does he rank with some of the better villains on the show in the past?

Heather Hogan: By this point in season one, the Alpha had already mauled a bus driver, a video store worker, and Scott McCall. By this time last year, Grandpa Argent had electrocuted the high school principal and the kanima was well into its killing spree. So far Deucalion has punched a girl in the face and locked some teenagers in a bank. He’s not exactly Lord Voldermort.

Damian Holbrook: After what is revealed in this week’s episode, I have a feeling we are dealing with something far worse than any villain we’ve had so far. He and his whole pack are demented, brutal and definitely a force to be reckoned with. Way more terrifying than that Kanima.

Andy Swift: Not even close. Honestly, every time I see Deucalion, I think he’s Jaime from Game of Thrones. Then I remember he’s not, and I get sad. Maybe it’s because so many new characters were introduced at once, but I’m neither excited about nor scared by Deucalion.

Jim Halterman: I wasn’t sold until I saw this week’s episode where you get more of a piece of what he’s up to. And if the outline in his snug sweater is any indication, a shirtless Deucalion scene wouldn’t be an awful thing. The man may not be able to see but he sure knows his way around a gym.

Who would you like to see more of on the show?

Heather Hogan: Lydia, Lydia, Lydia, Lydia. I want to see her exploring her magical powers, figuring out why she has the ability to resurrect people from the dead and why her were-senses tingle when someone’s been murdered. I want to see her learning to protect herself and kicking bad guy ass. I want her to stop lying around in bed and screaming. Holland Roden is way too talented for that crap.

Damian Holbrook: I am in love with anything that involves Argent dealing with the werewolves. His interactions with Derek and Scott, beasts he hates but is slowly coming to respect, are always tense and uncomfortably funny, and usually extremely important to driving the story. And honestly, I would watch a marathon of just Lydia scenes.

Andy Swift: For starters, I’d like the show to make more sense. Any sense, actually. We’re three episodes in, and I’m still not sure who any of these new people are, or what their connection is to Beacon Hills. I guess we know Cora’s connection, but she totally came out of nowhere. As far as we knew, Derek only had one sister — Laura — and she died. I’d also like for them to make better use of Peter. Ian Bohen is a fantastic — not to mention super-hot — actor, and I feel like he’s being under-used.

Jim Halterman: As much as I love the men on the show, I’d love for the women to get amped up a bit more. They seem more like after-thoughts a lot of the time (’Oh–let’s go see what Lydia’s up to before we get back to the real action”) so I hope they get to own their place in this world more this season. I liked Allison’s story last season because it did tie into the main thread nicely. As far as this season, my hope is that Allison and Isaac really click and become the super couple she never became with Scott.

Even bloodied up, Derek just looks GOOD, right?

How do you feel about the violence in the show? Too much, not enough or just right?

Heather Hogan: I think it’s just right, but I am super squeamish, so I shouldn’t really be allowed to have an opinion on these things.

Damian Holbrook: I think the violence is on point for show like this, although some people might have an issue with it being so school-centric, given the real-life violence we’ve seen in our country’s educational facilities. Also, it’s fantasy violence, genre violence if you will. They’ve never been overtly graphic with the on-screen violence, allowing the viewer to instead imagine what is happening when the camera cuts away. That’s pretty respectable considering the target audience’s age. It’s a smart show, and they know that their audience can also be smart.

Andy Swift: They’ve really upped the blood this season, which I’m fine with; it’s a 10:00 cable show and deserves a little gore. I say just right.

Jim Halterman: I think it’s just right though at times the fact that so much happens at night also keeps us from seeing too much. And, come on, this is MTV and a younger crowd so it’s good where it’s at.

The show is in its third season. In your opinion, how is the show doing overall? Long life ahead or is showing signs of wear and tear?

Heather Hogan: I think it all depends on how it plays with a full season’s worth of episodes. We’ll know something more definitive in the few weeks or so. We’ve seen the first three-episode arc. The new players have been introduced. The new mysteries have been laid out. Now, let’s see what the show can do with the third season world it has built. Can it sustain this Alpha pack thing and the virgin homicides thing? Can it introduce new love interests without causing fans to riot? I hope it has a long life ahead. There’s a lot of mythology for the creative team to play with. And obviously the show has tapped into a core audience that is willing to suspend its disbelief in a major way for the mere price of bare abs. It’s a recipe for success, as long as the ingredients are blended and baked properly.

Damian Holbrook: I feel like the show is finally grown into its skin. The characters have gelled really nicely, we have a core cast that is so likable—they’re people that we root for, both to battle the bad guys and I find happiness. I see at least three more seasons. The storytelling this season so far has been great, and even though it’s not so “hot new show!,” it feels exciting and entertaining.

Andy Swift: Honestly, had Colton Haynes not left the show, I think season three would be much stronger. It’s a little uneven so far, but I feel like that’s only because they were forced to go in an entirely new direction, and it’s going to take some time to adjust. That hiccup aside, the show has only gotten better since season one, so I remain hopeful that it has a long life ahead.

Jim Halterman: As long as the show continues to develop character as well as the mythology of Scott’s journey (and everyone else around him), I think the show has a lot of life left. Though Teen Wolf can be sold as a werewolf drama, the reason we’re coming back week after week is for these characters so keep them alive (no pun intended) and keep evolving them and we’ll be hanging in Beacon Hills for many more seasons to come.

Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm on MTV.