This article contains spoilers through Teen Wolf season 6.
Watching MTV’s Teen Wolf for the first time years after it aired is an interesting experience. There are many things about the series that feel like a product of the 2010s, from the Bieber-esque hairstyle we first see Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) wear in the first season to the borderline cheesy romances. But what stands out the most watching this series now is how much the final season reflects the state of the U.S. and its politics during that time.
2017 marked the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, and a turning point in U.S. politics that we’re still dealing with to this day. Electing a reality TV star not only gave an incompetent buffoon more power than he should have ever had, but it reinforced to certain extreme sects of the country that their views of the world were right. It empowered them to enact violence against others and gave them permission to be loud and proud about their fascist-leaning, white supremacist ideology.
Originally airing in two parts between November 2016 and September 2017, the final season of Teen Wolf is anti-fascist and uses its supernatural characters to show the danger that can come from blindly following extreme fear-based rhetoric. The first half of the 20-episode final season literally features a werewolf Nazi as the primary antagonist, but the second part goes even further by introducing a creature called the Anuk-Ite that amplifies and feeds off of fear.
The Anuk-Ite inspires Tamora Monroe (Sibongile Mlambo), the guidance counselor of Beacon Hills High School, to use her fear of the supernatural to become a werewolf hunter. She learns her skills from the ruthless Gerard Argent (Michael Hogan) who wants to rid Beacon Hills of all supernatural creatures before moving onto the rest of the world. As the power of the Anuk-Ite grows, more and more regular people from Beacon Hills join Monroe and Gerard’s crusade. They turn on their neighbors, using increasingly violent and extreme tactics to expose the supernatural beings hiding among them.
Monroe and Gerard arm the townspeople with automatic weapons, encourage the youth to do “werewolf tests” on their classmates at school, and forcibly take over the Sheriff’s office. Even though Scott and his pack (most of whom are still just teenagers) have done nothing but try to protect the people of Beacon Hills from supernatural threats throughout the entire course of Teen Wolf’s run, they find themselves hunted by the very people they’ve been risking their lives to protect.
Just as Monroe and Gerard weaponized the powers of the Anuk-Ite against the supernatural creatures of Beacon, the campaign trail showed that Trump wasn’t afraid to weaponize the Islamophobia and xenophobia that was prevalent during the post-9/11 era to get people on his side. The loud and violent intolerance promoted by Trump’s campaign was likely on the writers’ minds when crafting this season, whether consciously or not, considering how often it seemed like Trump was promoting hatred and fear of others before and after his election. Trump not only promised to institute a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during a 2015 rally in South Carolina, but he also implied during a separate 2015 rally that Mexican immigrants are criminals, murderers, and rapists. But his speeches full of fear-mongering and intolerance weren’t jump empty words on the campaign trail. During his first month in office, Trump enacted a “Muslim Ban” via executive order that barred U.S. entry to immigrants and refugees from seven different Muslim-majority countries and throughout his presidency insisted on using congressional funds to build a large wall along the U.S. Mexico border.
Yes, it’s normal for there to be some fear amongst the people of Beacon Hills as they discover that supernatural creatures are real, but things go from zero to 100 really freaking fast. Thanks to the Anuk-Ite amplifying their fear, Monroe and Gerard are able to easily convince them that their neighbors, classmates, and co-workers are the real threat to Beacon Hills, not the increase in violent activity caused by the hunters’ vendetta.
When Scott’s mom is shot in their home, they act like it’s Scott’s fault for trying to exist as a werewolf, not the fault of the hunter who fired an automatic weapon into a house of unarmed people. When Liam (Dylan Sprayberry) discovers that his friends have been run over in the street, it’s his brief moment of werewolf rage that makes his classmates fearful, not the grown adults that ran over and murdered a couple of teenagers like it was nothing. While it may have been a gross misstep to make one of the lead hunters and voices of hatred in this storyline a Black woman, overall this season does a great job at showing how fast violence escalates when fear turns into hate.
Just as Teen Wolf’s final season started airing, fiction quickly began to resemble reality. The day after the 2016 election, I remember hearing stories of other women being harassed on my college campus by Trump-supporting men gloating about their victory. In the months that followed, there was a significant uptick in white-supremacist propaganda posted around campus as well as an increase in groups using campus common areas to scream their hateful rhetoric at students walking by. Campus no longer felt safe for many people, but it also seemed like things were just as bad, if not worse, throughout the rest of the country. According to CNN, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded a whopping 867 cases of “hateful harassment or intimidation” throughout the U.S. in the 10 days after the election alone.
Even though Trump is now out of office, the U.S. hasn’t seen a decrease in hate-based violence or discriminatory policies. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has only become more empowered in his unjust vendetta against the LGBTQ+ community, passing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill early last year. This bill was one of nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills filed across the U.S. in the first few months of 2022 alone. Hate crimes against the AAPI community have also become so frequent thanks to Trump calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” and “kung flu,” that the organization Stop AAPI Hate created its own reporting system so that people would have a safe place to turn if they were attacked.
But just like Trump didn’t conjure hatred out of thin air, neither did the Anuk-Ite. Scott believed that defeating the Anuk-Ite would make the people of Beacon Hills immediately see the error of their ways and stop the violence. While stopping the Anuk-Ite’s fear amplifying abilities did de-escalate tensions slightly, it didn’t fully stop the persecution of people with supernatural abilities in Beacon Hills or the rest of the world. Monroe’s hatred still lingers and she escapes Beacon Hills, taking the more overzealous hunters with her to continue their crusade against the supernatural.
In the series finale, we see Scott and his pack protecting a young werewolf from hunters inspired by Monroe and Gerard’s crusade. This moment is supposed to have an air of optimism, showing us that Scott and his pack will never stop helping people and fighting against hatred. But in reality, watching this scene now is just a reminder that even if you get rid of the fear monster, it’s hard to undo the damage they’ve caused.
Teen Wolf’s final season is definitely a product of the Trump-era, but its message against giving into fear and hatred is just as important now as it was back then. Even though the series finale doesn’t necessarily show the happiest ending for Scott and his crew, it does depict them standing together and not letting hate win. They could have easily let the other supernatural beings of the world fend for themselves after defeating the Anuk-Ite – the rest of the supernatural world hasn’t exactly been swarming Beacon Hills to help the pack for the past six seasons – but that’s not who these people are.
They realize that continuing to support their pack and their community is instrumental in combating the hunters and the hate that they spread. The real world may not give us claws or superhuman strength, but what we do have is each other. As daunting and ridiculous as it is that we’ve had to fight against such blatant hatred and violence the past few years, Scott and his pack are a great reminder that we don’t have to fight against fear and hatred alone.
All six season of Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf: The Movie are available to stream on Paramount+ now.