As a mother of two small kids, 90% of my television experience is spread across a vast ocean of talking letters, problem solving foxes, mathematician monsters, alien artists and hundreds more creative, educational and brilliant characters designed for the stimulation of children ages 0-6 years.
That other 10%? That’s the hallowed “mommy’s TV time” that can only take place in the middle of every afternoon, if both kids sleep at the same time. So, between the hours of (typically) 11:30am till about 2:30-3:00pm, my phone doesn’t get answered because those are MOMMY’S hours. Usually paired with housework of some sort, this is my one time of day to watch the shows I can’t watch with the kids. Supernatural, Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica, Falling Skies, Continuum, Buffy, Angel, Charmed, Fringe, just to name a few, are on, or have been on the list and in the last four years, this is pretty much the only way I get to keep up on any of the shows I actually really enjoy.
Most recently, I have been making my way through Teen Wolf, an MTV series based on the 1985 Michael J. Fox film of the same name.
Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brian as Scott McCall and Styles Stylinski seem to have literally grown up on this show and it shows through the story’s situations, as well as their acting prowess that they have really grown, just as much as their characters have on the show. They start out just kids, at age 15, quirky, awkward and silly and now, at the end of season 4, they are about to be seniors in high school, have seen and evaded death countless times, saved people, killed monsters, made difficult decisions in the areas of relationships, friendships and who to trust. They will be starting season 5 truly seasoned in all areas from combat to love and everywhere in between.
In some aspects, this show reminds me a lot of Buffy. A group of high school kids, some human, some monsters, band together as an unlikely tribe of heroes to save their town from the unknown horrors of the supernatural… heck, they even have a bratty, rich, unapproachable socialite in their group who is (not so secretly) adored by the “goofy” kid. Where it differs, is it’s intensely more gory, physical and serious tone throughout the show. Where Buffy often provided a softness through comedy and friendship, trips to the Bronze to just decompress and enjoy being 17, allowing the viewer an opportunity to forget how horrifying their lives really are, just for a few minutes… it seems that Styles and Scott have very little down time to actually just be teens. Every party, every dance, every game, every positive moment is always shrouded in fear, anxiety and death. I think if you ran a side-by-side comparison, it might come out about even what with the whole Hellmouth opening on graduation day, homecoming, and about a dozen other typically fun teenage events gone awry, not even mentioning the gut-wrenching episodes surrounding Buffy’s mom… ugh…
ANYway, back on topic, I think there are some similarities, and my husband kept telling me it’s basically the same thing and I keep arguing that Buffy wasn’t this obviously silly with it’s teenage romance. The “teenybopper” situations where they’re all swooning and love-lost over each other seems to me, far more ridiculous than Buffy ever did. Which again, he argues… is incorrect because Buffy was exactly like that and I’m just not seeing it the same way. After a while, I realized he was right.
It wasn’t the show that was so different, it was me. I am the one who is different. I’m seeing Teen Wolf as a mom. Not a teen. I am identifying with Scott’s mom, with Styles’ dad and I am even seeing Allison’s mom as someone I could relate to, far more than Allison, herself. I’m looking at these kids sneaking out in the middle of the night to make out and go after monsters together, and get all swoony and silly and I think, oh lord, I am WAY to old to be watching this show! And maybe that’s it- because even Derek isn’t the kind of character to me, that I think he’s supposed to be. He’s not the “experienced, wise and tough teacher of all things”. He’s just a guy who had a rough life and is doing the best he can, making stupid choices by continuing to turn children into werewolves and getting screwed over by people he trusts.
So I don’t relate to most of the characters on this show, save one. I think if it were 15 years ago, I’d have had a serious crush on Styles. I mean, really, he’s adorable. But when I watch the show, I don’t think about that. I think about how I want to protect him and take care of him and make sure he doesn’t kill himself, being the only human left in his group of friends who are all “special” for some reason and the fact that he doesn’t have a mom. I feel bad for him, I relate to him, but in a way that a mom relates to her kid, the way a mother relates to a child who needs one, and badly. Not in a way that a teenage girl relates to a hot boy in a werewolf show. I feel proud for him when he makes the right choices and I was terrified for him when he was the focus of season 3. When I realized that my “crush” has turned into a “I need to take care of this kid” mentality is when I truly realized I have shifted into a new level of viewer when it comes to these types of television shows. I noticed the same thing when I started watching The Flash last week, too.
I am a mom and shows like Teen Wolf are no longer made for me. I am no longer the target audience. Does that mean I should stop watching them? Does that mean there is no place for me now in sci-fi drama when the main characters are high schoolers? Some would say yes- I’m too old, find a grown up show and join the others in your age group watching 30 Rock or some stupid hospital drama or a real life court case show or those “spicy” shows like Revenge and “The Good Wife”. Personally, I’d rather claw out my eyes with a rusty nail than watch those shows…
So, I say no. Just because I’m no longer the target audience, does not mean I can’t enjoy it. I still loved the show and I’m not at all convinced they didn’t consider people like me in their writing, or they wouldn’t have such solid parent/adult characters with lessons of their own to learn.
I’m a mom who watches teen sci-fi/horror TV. I’ve been watching it since I was a teen, myself, and while it’s clear that I have changed as a viewer, my viewership likely won’t.
I wonder if this falls under the “guilty pleasure” list for most people who wouldn’t be willing to admit they are into a show made for 16 year olds… but whatever. I really enjoy it, I’m excited to see where they take it next year and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
What do you think? Are we too old to watch teen TV? What are some of your favorites? (If you’re not too ashamed to admit it) 😉