“Teen Wolf” pulls a “Pretty Little Liars” with its lesbian couple

MTV’s Teen Wolf has always kind of been the gay-guy equivalent of Pretty Little Liars: supernaturally gorgeous dudes getting into constant life-threatening situations and solving crime in the most homoerotic ways possible. So we were really psyched when showrunner Jeff Davis let slip in a Tumblr Q&A that they’d be adding a lesbian couple to the mix this season. The pair made their debut last night and the similarities to PLL just kept rolling. One of the lesbians was named Emily, and one of the girls was brutally murdered before the episode was over.

It all starts in a tent in the woods in the opening minutes of the episode. The lesbian couple is about to have sex for the first time in the most lesbian way possible. First, there’s this tent that’s tricked out with like a feather bed and various massage oils and an iPod dock playing Tegan and Sara and about sixty magical fairy lanterns. So, that’s the setting and inside they talk about their feelings for about three hours, pausing for ages between every kiss to make sure they’re both feeling loved and appreciated and understood and safe. Everything is a go according to the sisterfire sex code, but then the tent is suddenly covered in flesh-eating bugs, Mummy-style, and one of the lesbians gets snatched away into the night.

At first, we think it’s some rogue werewolves that have snatched away the lesbian, but at the end of the episode, we find out she was the third victim in some kind of virgin homicide trifecta. The final shot is of her basically nailed to a tree with her throat slit open.

Good stuff first: The lesbian relationship wasn’t treated as some kind of titillating carrot on a stick for straight dudes. (If there even are any straight dudes watching this show.) The couple was sweet and affectionate and rather than being played for boners, their arc was really the emotional crux of the episode. There was no winking and nudging by the teenage guys on the show, no condescension from the police or the hospital workers, only sympathy and compassion. Add that to Underemployed and it almost seems like MTV is trying to pay penance for that Britney Spears/Madonna kiss that spawned a generation of fauxmosexuality! Also, it is worth noting that Teen Wolf has done a solid job diversifying its cast with women of color this year.

Bad stuff: Teen Wolf doesn’t really have a good track record with its female characters. The most interesting ones always get offed, and the two main female characters spend most of their time screaming or pining for boys. (Although they have gone a long way to repair Allison Argent, the most prominent female character, this season. She’s always shown shades of empowerment and it seems like she’s finally starting to embrace it. And I’m still waiting for Bianca Lawson to bring down the hammer of kick-assery, if only she had more than three minutes of screentime per season.)

I had hoped we’d see some lesbian characters who would stick around for a while, but we are getting to a place in the world of visibility these days where guest arcs like this are necessary and very welcome, simply because they are non-issues in the broader scope of the story. Having a lesbian couple making out and getting murdered is as emotionally resonant as having a straight couple doing that, which, ironically, is real progress.

Did you watch last night’s Teen Wolf? What did you think?