Why Gays Should Be Howling for ‘Teen Wolf’

By: Jase Peeples

You don’t need heightened senses to sniff out the gay appeal found in MTV’s Teen Wolf.

After all, the sexy supernatural series wastes no opportunity to flaunt the buff bods of the boys in its cast.

But there’s a great deal more for gay viewers to sink their teeth into here than a simple serving of skin.

In fact, Teen Wolf may just be the gayest show currently airing on television – and that’s a good thing.

Of course any story dealing with werewolves would’ve found a home in the hearts of several homos (stories where people have to hide who they really are – even from the ones they love most – have a tendency to do that) but there’s nothing standard about the gay subtext in Teen Wolf.

In this series, boys flirt with boys as well as girls and the mythical creatures they turn into aren’t solely a metaphor for coming out of the closet, they literally run into gay clubs full of dancing shirtless hotties. The creative minds behind Teen Wolf aren’t simply using queer elements to infuse the show with gay appeal, they’re ramping up the gay appeal of the show to court a young audience – a fact the cast openly acknowledges.  

“I think layering a show like that is always good and it’s nice when people notice,” says Tyler Hoechlin who plays the show’s current alpha werewolf, Derek Hale. “We have great writers that – even though Teen Wolf is a TV show – the depth of the story feels more like a film and it’s because of the multiple layers, the subtext woven into each episode, that it feels that way. I hope we see more of it.”

In addition to embracing its suped-up gay subtext – a first for a series primarily aimed at teenagers – Teen Wolf is also changing the way gays are featured on television. Not simply by including an out gay teen in the form of Beacon Hills High Lacrosse goalie Danny Mahealani (Keahu Kahuanui), but by evolving the way every other character reacts to him.

In this series, homosexuality isn’t simply tolerated, it’s absolutely normal. This approach is a monumental shift for television and is highlighted by Danny’s relationship with Jackson Whittemore (Colton Haynes), the star athlete of Beacon Hills High and the shape-shifting reptilian creature known as the Kanima.

“When I was in school, the asshole jocks would make fun of the gay kids, but Jackson’s character is best friends with Danny and I love that,” says Haynes. “There’s a clear message in Teen Wolf that says it’s okay to be who you are – that it’s okay to embrace who you are.”

Though anti-gay groups may cry foul over show’s groundbreaking approach to sexuality, Haynes has seen the positive impact Teen Wolf is having on gay youth.

“I love being able to go on Twitter and see how many gay teenagers enjoy watching the show because we’re giving them a voice,” says Haynes. “I think that’s the smartest thing (show creator) Jeff Davis could’ve done. Instead of brushing off a huge demographic of our viewers, we’re embracing it and making it fun for everyone. We’ve had such a great reaction to that. I’m so proud to be a part of a show that isn’t afraid to be an innovator.”

Aside from the intellectual, Teen Wolf is also setting a new standard in another department of sexuality. Specifically with the objectification of its male cast members. Where television shows of the past have presented the female form as the primary object of desire, this MTV Drama completely flips the script.

Rarely does an episode air that doesn’t feature one or more shirtless scenes. In fact, a recent episode even featured a homoerotic locker-room fight between the show’s main character Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) and a dripping wet, mostly naked, Jackson (Colton Haynes) – which took place shortly after a prolonged shower scene featuring a completely naked Jackson. Scenes like these make it clear that Teen Wolf isn’t merely in step with the current comfort level of mainstream male objectification, it’s expanding into new territory.

However, creating the show’s sexy bits isn’t always easy on the cast. “It was really difficult to keep my energy up,” Haynes says of his now-legendary shower scene and locker-room fight with Tyler Posey. “For that scene I was in a freezing cold shower that looks hot on camera, but it really wasn’t. They didn’t use hot water, they used fog instead. So there I was in freezing cold water, with a fog machine blasting, wearing nothing but a sock. It wasn’t very fun.”

Nevertheless, Teen Wolf is obviously benefiting from the show’s cutting-edge approach to sexuality. The series is not only ranked #1 in its timeslot among teens, but in the key P12-34 demographic as well. MTV has also picked up the series for a third season and increased their episode order from 12 to 24.

Thanks to TV shows like Glee and Modern Family, gays are enjoying a new era of inclusiveness on television, but Teen Wolf could quickly rise to become the leader of the pack.

Tags: TV