Life is strange in Beacon Hills, California. The woods around the town are filled with werewolves. The history teacher’s wife and daughter are both kitsune, Japanese fox beings with various mystical powers. A banshee roams the halls of the school disguised as the pretty girl who’s too smart for her own good and has a knack for knowing when someone is going to die. The local veterinarian is a former Druid emissary to a family of hunters who have been around since a monstrous beast tormented the gentry of Gevaudan, France in the 18th century.
It’s a wild place to find yourself, but there is one thing that really sets this town apart from any other we have ever really seen on TV, and it’s almost completely unheard of in horror. In the town of Beacon Hills, California, being gay is totally normal. I don’t mean it’s just accepted. I mean it’s considered as normal as going down the street to get a gallon of milk from the grocery store. Welcome to the world of MTV’s “Teen Wolf”.
Case in point, Danny Mehealani, played by Keahu Kahanui, is a key player on the school’s lacrosse team. Danny also happens to be gay. When Stiles, head wolf Scott McCall’s best friend, is worried that people don’t find him attractive, who does he ask? Danny. When Scott needs to get into the school dance he’s been denied access to, who does he get to help him? Danny. But the best thing about Danny is he is in no way a stereotypical gay teen like we’ve seen in other shows. Danny is smart, articulate, and masculine. He’s the face and let’s face it, the body we’ve been waiting to see as a representation of our community. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the stereotype as much as the next guy, but it’s good to see characters who don’t fit the standard mold from central casting that we normally get.
Later on in the series, a pair of twin alpha wolves, Ethan and Aiden, come on board. They are vicious, brutal killers who infiltrate the school as students intent, initially on getting Scott to join their alpha pack. Ethan also happens to be gay, and he is immediately drawn to Danny’s character. While they continue on their mission, we get to see Danny and Ethan develop a relationship that is sweet and gentle. Ethan, in turn, becomes a real person to the audience. It was a great bit of duality that played out throughout the season and I really wish Ethan, played by Charlie Carver, could have stayed on longer.
Aside from the gay positive characters and treatment of gay characters on the show, when you’re making a show about accepting that you’re different from everyone else and that you have a secret that you slowly share with your friends and family taking the chance that they might not accept this part of you, it’s hard not to read the entire show as an allegory for being gay and coming out of the closet. Everyone in our community knows that fear of rejection. Everyone in our community knows what it’s like to, at some point, fight the against that part of yourself.
In Teen Wolf, you can fight it. You can wish it would go away, but ultimately, accepting that part of yourself is empowering. It gives you strength you never dreamed possible. It does not make your life perfect, but it does help you live the truest life you can lead. And that, viewers, is the best lesson we can give LGBTQ youth in our country today. In our society, there are “hunters” out there who want us out of the picture. There are others in the community who lash out against you because they don’t like they way you carry yourself. And through it all, we continue to not only survive but thrive in the world around us, and keep our fingers crossed that society at large will catch up with Beacon Hills, CA very, very soon.