It’s hard finding an interracial couple in a mainstream TV show. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. What’s harder still is finding an interracial couple where one of the two isn’t white, where both lovers are minorities.
Enter Teen Wolf. Now, I’ve given Teen Wolf some flack in the past (circa our first-ever Problematic Favorites issue) but I’d also like to give them credit where credit is due, and one of my favorite aspects of the show is that not only do they have an interracial couple where they’re both minorities, but it’s the main couple of the show.
Tyler Posey, who plays Scott McCall, is of Mexican descent. Arden Cho, who plays Kira Yukimura, is of Korean descent. The two of them have a simultaneously adorable and badass relationship together (Scott’s an alpha werewolf and Kira’s a katana-wielding kitsune) and there actually does come a point in the show where Kira’s Japanese background plays a very important role in the plot. We have an entire episode not just dedicated to her mother’s backstory, but showcasing the Japanese internment camps of World War II, something that is taught so little in public schools. The now-closed George Takei-created Broadway show Allegiance was the first that some people had even heard that such a thing had happened in our country. It’s heavy stuff for a genre show on MTV, but for a lot of fans it was appreciated.
Kira’s race is addressed more in the show than Scott’s, despite Scott being the main character, but that’s due in large part to the fact that Kira’s parents are so connected with their backgrounds and traditions. When Scott goes to Kira’s house for dinner with her parents, the Korean Mr. Yukimura (Kira gets her Japanese genes from her mom’s side) cooks up a wickedly good-looking Japanese sushi platter for everybody. Kira teaches Scott how to properly hold his chopsticks, Scott makes the hilarious mistake of thinking the wasabi was guacamole and eats the entire thing whole, Mr. Yukimura explains how he took his wife’s last name instead of vice versa because she’s the last in her family lineage.
The Yukimuras are very much a family surrounded by their history — Scott and his mom, not so much. In fact, it’s Mr. Yukimura’s story about taking his wife’s surname that prompts Scott to ask his mom why she kept her ex-husband’s surname McCall instead of changing back to her maiden name, Delgado.
But even though Scott’s Latino roots aren’t explored to the extent that Kira’s are, that doesn’t detract from the singular and pretty awesome fact that the main couple of the show is an interracial couple. Even better is the fact that, as far as I’ve been able to find online, producer Jeff Davis doesn’t grandstand and pat himself on the back for it. If you’ve read my past article on Teen Wolf, one of my biggest problems with the show back then was the fact that the cast and producer both laud the show as being so progressive in terms of LGBT representation when, in fact, they didn’t have much. One gay couple does not groundbreaking exposure make.
Here, Davis and Co. let Scott and Kira do their own thing, be their own thing, and don’t purposely draw attention to them in the hopes of getting their Internet gold stars for diversity. Their romance comes naturally and they aren’t needlessly propped up on a pedestal for being in an interracial relationship.
They’re also in an inter-species relationship, as mentioned earlier, what with Scott being a werewolf and Kira being a kitsune. Supposedly, the fox and the wolf don’t get along and wouldn’t make a good pairing, but Scott and Kira are able to work through the obstacles that fall in their path and make it to a really good place in their relationship. And while certainly nobody in the show is against them being a couple based on their ethnicities, it does feel like another whisper to the past: interracial marriages weren’t formally and fully legalized in the United States until 1967 (Yes, seriously). Scott and Kira being of different species serve as a parallel to another time when interracial relationships were, historically, taboo. This is also addressed in the Japanese internment camp episode, where Kira’s mother Noshiko fell in love with a white corporal named Rhys.
For some, Teen Wolf may just be a melodramatic CGI-heavy show about a bunch of high school kids running around in slow motion and growling for the camera, but it digs deep in areas where other shows have only scratched the surface or barely touched it at all. Scott and Kira – and by extension, Posey and Cho – have created a genuinely engrossing relationship with each other, so much so that unless you were purposely writing an article about interracial romance like me, you wouldn’t even be looking out for it. It comes naturally, and it comes across as bona fide young love, and that’s something you definitely don’t see all that often.
Gabby Taub, the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is a recent graduate of New York University. She enjoys reading, writing, watching TV, and spending time getting lost among the bookshelves at Strand Bookstore.