Don't be fooled that this is going to be some well thought-out piece of eloquence. It's pretty much just ramble-y flailing and an overlong treatise on architecture. Also, there are spoilers going up through all aired eps, but nothing beyond them save for personal speculation. Also also, trigger warnings for canonical implied abuse of a minor.
Teen Wolf seems to get compared frequently to Buffy, and there are definitely reasons why that's fitting, but it also reminds me in some ways of SGA. Probably the biggest is the fact that it knows that its protagonist is a doofus. The long, lingering shot of him falling asleep and toppling off a roof, followed by a plaintive, off-screen "Ow"... The classic, despairing "His username is 'Allison?'... His password is also 'Allison?'"... The show is aware of exactly how seriously it can't take itself, but it's also unapologetic when it intends to be serious. It's that odd, meta feeling that underlies the whole thing that maybe makes me like it best. They're not quite breaking the fourth wall, but they definitely like to flirt with it.
Other specific things that I enjoy:
1. The houses. As with a lot of things about this show, they put a hell of a lot more thought into this than you'd really expect.
- The McCalls live in a large, old house, the kind of place that they bought back before Scott turned out to be an only child. It’s a stretch to keep it on a single income, but they stay because it’s their home and Melissa is a damn good mom.
- Even the bones of the Hale house are solid and grand. It's less a home and more a homestead, built to hold and last through generations. It gives the impression that the Hales have been there a long time, and intended to be there much longer. They were the kind of people who stayed.
- The Argents stand out sharply in their new construction. It's got all the shiny upgrades that the modern, successful family looks for - the granite and stainless steel and tray ceilings - and none of the lived-in warmth of the others. It's exactly the kind of place that people who've moved often and anticipate doing it again would choose. Very nice, very tasteful, but ultimately replaceable. Allison's room is the direct contrast to all of this, with its progression from paint choices on the wall early on to carefully personalized decorations later. Allison is very tired of moving.
- Jackson's house is ultra-modern, Isaac's is the definition of blending in, and Boyd's has bars on the windows. I'm dying to see more of the Stilinski house. Every single living space on this show says something about the characters, and I love that.
(Side note: Why is everyone on this show - and TV in general, for that matter - an only child? Scott, Allison, Stiles, Lydia, Jackson, Isaac... You don't actually have to spend the money on other actors; just mention siblings offhand every now and then. Nobody has them unless it's for plot-furthering reasons. It's like family structuring via the Chekhov's gun method.)
2. The cast. They're... yeah, beyond adorable. They're like a big, snuggly pile of rainbows and goofiness. They have behind-the-scenes shots like this...
...and twitter battles about which of them is best suited for mpreg. No, really.
I sort of want to bop Jackson on the head most of the time, but Colton Haynes may be my favorite of all the actors. His twitter is full of his feelings about his character's need to apologize and his delight about cuddling bunnies. Plus, this:
While the polite line between fans and actors/PTBs often gets erased in this fandom - and sometimes stomped over squickily - they seem to all respond gracefully and without condescension. Even the peripheral cast is charming. They just seem like the kind of people that would be ridiculously fun to hang out with. I would invite them to a paleo party without a second thought.
3. The fact that no one on this show is the character they’re supposed to be, save for Scott.
- Derek... Oh, Derek. By the Laws of TV, he should be this angry, powerful cypher, and he just isn't. Instead he's desperate and surly and often achingly young. He wears the standard leather jacket of mysterious badasses everywhere, but he tucks his hands in the cuffs up to the knuckles; he wears sneakers, not boots.
Relatedly, I love everything about the Kate/Derek dynamic. They don't pretend that Kate isn't a sexual predator, and they don't pretend that Derek is immune to fear and shame. He consistently comes across as vulnerable in her presence. This is the last place on earth I'd expect a commentary on the psychology of abuse and abusers, and yet there it is.
The second season really emphasizes what deliberate choices they were making in the first, too. Derek's very clearly different, from the way he holds himself to the way he speaks. He has moments with both Scott and Stiles, though, where he drops the act and feels very Season One Derek. He's wearing the right outfit the right way, and definitely tripping on the power upgrade, but I think even he knows it's not real. There's an overcompensation aspect to it all that's really interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing where he takes this later on, when things go as horrifically wrong as they're inevitably going to.
- Stiles. Just, Stiles. He should be the plucky comic relief, and he is, but he's also the one that gets shit done. He's practical, and competent, and just plain good. He is my very favorite, hands down. I want to use italics for everything about him, basically. What's extra neat is that you can very clearly see his father's influence there. I freakin' adore the Sheriff all on his own, and their relationship on top of that, but the coolest part is that they really are written as father and son. Not just in their interactions with each other, but in the ways that Stiles is so like his dad.
(Side note 2: I used to have the wildest crush on Linden Ashby, no lie. Mortal Kombat is a given, yeah, but does anybody else remember Spy Game? It was on ABC for about 5 minutes back in the day, and he played this awesome ex-spy who specialized in turning anything into a weapon and had a huge thing for his rookie partner, Max. The plots were ridiculous and the whole thing was goofy as all hell, but it was fabulous. *sigh*
So yeah, it's my personal headcanon that Lorne and Max retired and settled down to raise Stiles. He even has her eyes.
Stiles' honorary uncles are a Russian bar owner and a dude who was possibly born in a suit, which never seems weird until Scott mentions offhand that they both smell like a gun locker. And then it all hits the fan with the hunters and Sheriff Stilinski kicks everybody's ass with a paperclip and a ballpoint and Mrs. Stilinski turns out to be both alive and very, very good with explosives. I want that story so much.)
- Allison. Eeee! She caught me completely by surprise with how awesome she is. Again, she's competent and adaptable, and so damn much wiser than you'd expect. I have this instinctive negative reaction to characters having breakdowns and crises in the midst of external turmoil, mostly because I'm sitting there going, "No, seriously, worry about your feelings after you stop the zombie hordes, okay?" It's not that I don't like character development with bonus emoting - emote, my pretties! emote! - I just value practicality above pretty much all else. Allison strikes this fantastic balance between being implausibly controlled and an angsting wreck. She gets tried, she gets traumatized, but she also gets back up, picks up a goddamn weapon, and does what needs doing. I love her so much!
- Scott grew on me! Like a sweet, goofy fungus! I honestly didn't expect to like him very much, based on fic characterizations, but he's adorable. Yes, his priorities suck for... well, all of the first season, and yes, he's inclined to be unthinkingly self-centered in his worldview, but he's got potential. He's written as the stereotypical teenage boy character in a drama series; he only grates so drastically because everybody around him has already realized that they're in a thriller instead. They're gearing up for life and death while he's still prepping for high school soap operas. The world has switched genres on him, and by the second season he's figuring it out. I like where he's headed, at least.
- I went from thinking Lydia was just a little too Mean Girls to ever win me over to being surprisingly fond of her. I'm willing to be convinced on Jackson, but he's going to have to redeem himself a lot. Danny is <3 all the way, OMG. I want to see so much more of the new pack members, and kind of live in terror that Boyd is not long for this world. Even the characters I don't like, I really enjoy the opportunity to not like (Victoria Argent, I am looking at you - but only from a safe distance, and preferably while well armed).
- They get bonus points for also having possibly the most awesome veterinarian on TV. I want to fistbump them for that one.
I love the feeling that they're all growing into this complicated, epic future for themselves. Who knows if they'll get there, but I'm enjoying the heck out of this show right now for what it is.