Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What If Teen Wolf Were Actually About The Grownups?

A few weeks ago we had a nice little "What If?" moment about the ladies in the Marvel universe getting center stage for a bit. Well, today I want to keep that momentum going with another never gonna happen moment: What if Teen Wolf were actually about the grownups? You know, Melissa McCall and Sheriff John Stilinski and Chris Argent and Peter Hale and Derek Hale and Ms. Morrell and Ms. Martin and Deputy Parrish and Dr. Deaton and Finstock and the Yukimuras and all those other interesting folks?

What would that show be like?

To my mind, it would be better. That's pretty much my bias talking, but here is how I personally think the show would go down. First off, it would be way better than what we've currently got. That's not to say that I don't enjoy the show as it is right now, because I definitely do. I enjoy the heckity heck out of it. It's just that I feel like we could do better. Scott is an awesome little puppy dog of amazing, and Stiles is cute, and Lydia is a fierce goddess, but I feel like the show honest to good ness would work better and be more compelling if the adults were the main characters. Here's why.

First of all, wouldn't it be nice to see the people with actual expertise dealing with the problems for once? 

Teen Wolf, like a lot of supernatural shows about teenagers, has this weird problem where the people most qualified to deal with a situation are never the ones who actually deal with it. Nope. The teenagers, who are terrible and dysfunctional and you know, terrible, always end up being the ones fixing the problem. That seems stupid to me.

Instead, why not have Chris Argent, the most talented and resourceful hunter in town team up with the local Sheriff and his trusty deputy to hunt down the evil thing? They can get fixed up if they get hurt by that nice nurse who knows everything and can heal everyone. If they run into something supernatural, that's okay, because they have backup in the form of two former alpha werewolves and two magicky people, as well as a kitsune and whatever Kira's dad is.

Do you get my point? It would be a crapton more efficient, and it honestly makes so much more sense if the adults are the ones taking care of things. They're in the correct position to do so - with the resources, power, and skills - and they don't have homework or lacrosse practice to muddle things up.

Second, because they are adults, the stakes are automatically higher. 

Hey, you know what makes drama dramatic? Having high stakes. And sure, the stakes are usually pretty high on Teen Wolf - either we fight this monster or we and all of our friends and parents die - but I guarantee it that they would be higher if it were the parents doing the fighting. Because a parent seeing a threat to a child is more emotionally affecting for the audience than seeing a child have their parents threatened. It's basic common sense. While children (teenagers) are protective of their parents, that's nothing compared to how protective parents are of their children.

Also, the interpersonal dynamics between the adults are honestly more interesting. It's why last season it was so engaging to see Derek and Chris hanging out and working together - they have more baggage between the two of them than all of the kids combined and doubled. Then we factor in the Sheriff and Melissa's kind of sort of relationship with Peter and Deaton's mutual frustration and mistrust, and add a dash of the Yukimuras and the Hales having territory disputes, and you've got an engaging season, don't you?

That's without even bringing Ms. Morrell and Ms. Martin and Deputy Parrish into the mix. Also Finstock, because he makes everything better. What I'm saying is, the adults have complex relationships on a level that the kids really can't reach. They haven't been alive long enough. There's something to be said for having a history with someone, and it definitely makes for some good TV.

Third, the villains are mostly adults, and it would level the playing field.

Okay, so I get that television shows generally thrive by constructing narratives about the underdog going up against the mighty villain and prevailing despite heavy losses and the overwhelming odds against them, hurrah! But I think that sometimes shows take it a little bit too far. In this case, I feel like it's kind of weird. On Teen Wolf, the kids are so incredibly outclassed by their villains that it actually feels almost mean. And besides, like I said above, there's something much more affecting about a story where the characters have history. You just don't get that with teenagers.

Take the whole Kate Argent plotline from the first season. While it was cool and interesting to see it from Scott's perspective, Scott didn't have a freaking clue what was going on or who any of these people were. And that worked. The narrative was largely about Scott and his confusion and trying to figure out what's going on.

However. How much more emotional and intense and amazing would that arc have been if instead of seeing it through Scott's eyes, we saw it through Derek's? And Chris's? And Kate's?

If the plot were to focus more on the adults, specifically in that season, then it would have been much more intense, and I have to say good. Because Derek doesn't just have history with Kate, he's got deep horrible sexual history doused in betrayal sauce. And Chris? I can only assume that Derek either knew Chris at the time or knew of him, which makes it more complicated. When you factor in how Peter ends up being the rogue alpha who killed Laura and all those other people, well, you've made for a really compelling season of television.

What if Derek spends the season thinking that the alpha, whoever he is, will kill Derek too because Derek is the one who gave up family secrets to a hunter? What if we actually saw more of Kate tormenting Derek? What if we saw more of Chris and Victoria's mixed feelings about Kate and her methods? What if the Sheriff were allowed to really piece the plot together? What if Melissa had to heal Derek after he was tortured? What if, what if, what if.

And the same things goes for the other storylines too. The most interesting part of the entire Alpha Pack season was when we found out that Jennifer Blake used to be Kali's emissary, and that they were super close. Excuse me, but I wanted way more of that and way less of the twins oafing around the high school.

I wanted more of the Yukimura's fighting the nogitsune, instead of just egging their daughter on. I want the adults to have problems and deal with them. I want Ms. Martin to go on one date with Peter, then find out what he did to her daughter, and then take vicious violent terrifying revenge on him the way only a Martin woman can. And then I want it to backfire on her, and so on. The adults have history and lives and stakes and so much else that is so interesting, and I want it all. But most of all, I want...

Fourth, Derek should really be the main character.

Again, I love Scott. I adore him, really. He's a sweetie and Tyler Posey is an angel and I just want to squish them both so tight. I think he's the perfect protagonist for the show as it is right now. But we're not talking about the show as it is, we're talking about the version of the show I would find preferable. And in that version it really just makes sense for Derek to be the main character.

Derek is the one everything happens either to or because of. The whole first season revolves around him, and the other seasons only happen because of him. It's funny too, because Derek arguably has the least character development of anyone on the show, but he is hands down the most central character. Ergo, it only makes sense for him to be the main character.

From a storytelling standpoint, though, it makes sense too. Derek is the ultimate tragic hero. He blames himself for the death of his family, he has horrifying traumatic sexual experiences in his past, and he's struggling to rebuild his life.

I want to see that. I want to see Derek learning how to live, and more than that, learning how to be an adult.

Like, I want to see Derek going to the grocery store and buying ingredients he doesn't know how to cook and then calling Melissa in a panic because he doesn't know what to do and then calming down and cooking, all while they discuss the latest supernatural threat and how to stop it. I want to see Derek get a job, maybe at the Sheriff's station, or at the hospital (he can take pain away, after all), or maybe somewhere else. At the library. As a mechanic. Something.

I want to see Derek and Chris learning to be peers, then learning to be friends. I want to see the Sheriff taking Derek in as kind of a secondary son, and Stiles taking the opportunity to prank the crap out of Derek because that's what little brothers do. I want to see Scott worried at first because Derek is so close with his mom, but then accepting it and deciding to be a friend to Derek, because Derek so desperately needs a friend.

I want to see Derek grow up, face his demons, and move on.

I want to see the Yukimura's hosting everyone for Thanksgiving and serving non-Western food and telling stories about the Beacon Hills of the past. I want to see them all fighting monsters together. I want to see Deaton and Ms. Morrell developed beyond their sage stereotypes and into full fledged characters. I want to know Ms. Martin's first name. I want all of these things, for all the reasons above.

When it comes down to it, I'm not going to stop watching Teen Wolf  or anything because they aren't making these changes. I don't expect them to make these changes. But I do think that the show I've described here is, well, better. It makes more sense, would be more dramatic, and would have more weight. And I think that it would be good.

What more do you need in a TV show?

I don't know about you, but I need more Deputy Beautiful Eyes.