Late to the Party: Veronica Mars

It’s time for a new segment ’round here! I’ve been thinking lately about the way I seem to have a penchant for getting into things months — or, more often, years — after everybody else does. It’s basically my signature style at this point. So, naturally, I decided it was time to write about it!

This segment will be similar to “Have You Heard Of…” in that it will mostly highlight stuff from a little while ago, but instead of focusing mainly on obscure stuff, I’ll be using these posts to talk about stuff I’ve finally (FINALLY) gotten around to watching/reading/playing, regardless of category. And for the very first one, we’ll be taking a look at none other than Veronica Mars!

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Veronica Mars originally aired from 2004 to 2007 on the CW (and other iterations thereof) and starred Kristen Bell. Looking back on it now, I’m kind of wishing I actually had watched this show when it was current, because it depicts high school students (albeit really farfetched, improbably beautiful, California-y ones), and I was in high school during those years as well. But at the same time, I’m of the opinion that high school is best viewed from a distance, so maybe the nostalgia is better than the potential relatability would have been. As it is, the fashion, technology, and pop culture references take me right back to the best (and cheesiest) parts of my teenagerhood in a way that’s pretty delightful (and that doesn’t make me feel old…nope, not even a little bit…*cough*).

The eponymous character of Veronica Mars is not your average high school student. In between going to class and dealing with the drama that all fictional Californian high schools are rife with, Veronica spends her time solving crimes both small and large. She learned her skills from Keith Mars, her sheriff-turned-private-eye father, who (gratefully or begrudgingly, depending on the day) lets her help him out part-time at his office.

Image Credit: Huffington Post

Very early on in season 1, we learn that Veronica and most of her classmates are still reeling from the mysterious murder of Veronica’s best friend, Lily Kane. A year and a half later, the case still haunts Veronica (as does Lily, from time to time). Even though the confessed killer is behind bars, Veronica can’t shake the feeling that they got the wrong guy. That same feeling drove Veronica’s father to accuse Lily’s father of committing the murder. But instead of uncovering the truth, this act gets Keith fired from his sheriff position and consigns him to private eye work.

But while Keith seems ready to let it all go and move on with his life, Veronica’s not so willing to just sit back and let things take their course. As her sleuthing reveals new clues about what really happened to Lily, Veronica starts to think there may be some hope of solving the case at last — and clearing her father’s name. But there are lots of other people — powerful, wealthy people — involved with the case who would much prefer to keep the truth under wraps. Will Veronica outsmart them to find out the truth, or will Lily’s death stay shrouded in secrets and lies?

It took me about 1.5 episodes to fall in love with this show. The first season, at least, is an example of CW content at its best. The characters alone were enough to hook me — Veronica’s just the sort of savvy, witty, adorable person I wish I could be when I grow up, her best friend Wallace is the very definition of a person with a heart of gold, and her biker friend Weevil puts on a tough guy front but is always there to get Veronica out of a jam. Logan, who was Lily’s on-again-off-again boyfriend right up until the time Lily was killed, and with whom Veronica falls out of touch for a while, goes back and forth from dirtbag to charming as heck to an even dirtier dirtbag at a breackneck pace, and was kind of a pain at first, but completely grew on me by the end of the season. Veronica’s dad, Keith, is the daddest dad that ever was, and even Duncan Kane (Lily’s brother and Veronica’s erstwhile boyfriend), who can a little bit of a Ken doll, brings some important pathos to the table.

Beyond the great characters, another thing that really stands out to me about this show is the overall feel of it. One of the main reasons Peder and I started watching this show was because the Xbox game Life is Strange (which Peder wrote about here) reminded him so much of it. We decided it made sense to start a watch-through the show so that he could relive it, and so that I could both see what he was talking about and see what all the fuss over the show itself was about. After seeing the first season and a bit of the second, I can definitely agree with Peder about the tone of the show. While it (thankfully) doesn’t get as dark as LiS does, it has that same dreamlike, surreal quality about it, and the resilient, curious, heartfelt protagonists of each have a lot in common.

The overarching themes are similar as well in that both characters slowly realize that things are much more complex, much darker, and much more unexpected than they seem on the surface. I was relieved to find, though, that instead of taking this idea to its logical conclusion the way LiS does, VM uses this concept to showcase the importance of discovering the truth, and of believing in the strength of your own character and convictions, even (maybe especially) when the rest of the world persists in doubting and misunderstanding you.

As I mentioned, we’ve completed the first season thus far and have started the second. As Peder tells me, the series unfortunately goes downhill for a little while during season 2, since this is when the CW really got its claws into the storyline and took it in a new — and not altogether smart or interesting — direction. However, he also tells me that it’s worth sticking it out through the rough patch, because the show hits an upswing later on and ends well. On top of that, there’s the crowdfunded Veronica Mars movie to watch as well, which I’m told takes the story to a satisfying conclusion, and provides another opportunity to spend some more time with the great cast of characters who populated the show. I can’t wait to watch it all and find out for myself!

Have you seen Veronica Mars? What are some of your favorite memories of the show? Come reminisce in the comments!


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