Although short-lived, Veronica Mars’ three seasons have earned a cult following over the past 10 years. The show starred Kristen Bell as Veronica, a tough high-schooler with a talent for sleuthing. The first episode opened with the revelation that Veronica’s best friend Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried) had been murdered a few months earlier and the culprit had still not been found. Veronica pays the bills by solving mysteries for her fellow classmates, but is always trying to uncover who murdered her best friend.
Despite its questionable fashion choices and early guest stars (Paris Hilton, anyone?) VMars is still just as fresh and unique as it was 10 years ago. Want proof? Fans of the show donated almost 6 million dollars on Kickstarter, so that the cast and crew could make the Veronica Mars movie that was released last March. They’ve even recently announced a web series, which will be loosely based on the show.
Still not convinced? Don’t worry, we could go on for days about why this show is so great.
1. It features a strong and complicated lead character.
Veronica Mars is a strong female in every sense of the term. Not only was she written as complex and multifaceted but the character itself is also incredibly clever and resourceful. She’s constantly challenging authority, doesn’t care about her reputation and is fiercely loyal to her friends and family. She doesn’t have impressive physical abilities which is refreshing. Instead, her strength is her intelligence. On the other hand, she can oftentimes be her own worst enemy. Because of trust issues, she keeps everyone at arm’s length, rarely showing her true emotions. But after being abandoned by her mother, experiencing the murder of her best friend and becoming ostracized by the entire community, who could blame her?
2. There’s wonderfully smart dialogue.
VMars is beloved for its sharp and clever dialogue. Creator Rob Thomas (no—not that Rob Thomas) gives every character snappy one-liners and there’s plenty of sarcasm to go around. Veronica’s love interest Logan Echolls’ (Jason Dohring) quips are fan favorites, but Veronica’s father, Keith (Enrico Colantoni) and biker friend Eli ‘Weevil’ Navarro (Francis Capra) also throw some good lines in.
3. There’s an impressive use of film noir elements.
Crime dramas and psychological thrillers of the 1940s and ‘50s were notorious for their use of film noir style, and Veronica Mars was the first show to try this concept on television. A constant voiceover monologue from Veronica, low-key and distinctive lighting, complicated use of shadows and light, and extensive use of flashbacks are just a sampling of the cinematic film noir elements incorporated in the show. Most scenes are tinged with color, as if the entire show was filmed through a stained-glass window. Not to mention that Veronica is an aspiring detective/private eye, alienated from her community and living in a town fraught with murder, corruption and suspicion, all of which are common story elements of the genre.
4. The show’s credited with the discovery of Kristen Bell and other stars.
Almost a decade before actress Kristen Bell was crying over sloths on Ellenor voicing Anna in Disney’s musical smash hit Frozen, she was sassing the residents of Neptune, Calif. as the teenage private eye. Fans of the show have long been aware of Bell’s extensive list of talents and the part of Veronica was perfect for her: quick dialogue with a focus on comedy, but also plenty of opportunities for Bell to demonstrate her dramatic chops, which are considerable. It’s just impossible to imagine another actress playing Veronica. A long list of talented actors and actresses also guest starred on VMars long before they made it big(ger) including Max Greenfield (New Girl), Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Paul Rudd (Anchorman), Jane Lynch (Glee), Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty).
5. The focus on diversity and challenging class/race relations.
The fictional Neptune, Calif. is a town with an enormous wealth gap. The extraordinarily wealthy live on one side of the town and the poor and lower middle class live on the other, with tensions between the two escalating every day. Veronica’s former boyfriend and murdered best friend are members of the elite, and she is often put in the middle of the turmoil after she befriends Weevil Navarro, the leader of a biker gang with a good heart, but frustrations over town injustices which threaten to boil over. Not to mention the corrupt local sheriff is leading a police department which serves only the rich and mistreats the poor. Any of this sound familiar? Neptune’s struggles with race and class relations remain relevant today and reflect much of the tension throughout the country.
6. An well-handled rape scene.
In the first episode, viewers are informed that Veronica was drugged and raped a few months earlier. The show does not judge Veronica for what happened. It doesn’t breeze over the aftermath, but neither does it hyperfocus on it. Instead, it very carefully shows how this traumatic event affected her, but didn’t break her. The show doesn’t push the idea that the sexual assault made her stronger and it doesn’t forget about what happened, mentioning the incident a few times throughout the series, even after it’s storyline has concluded. Veronica Mars handles the assault tactfully and realistically, instead of using it as some cheap plot point to cause drama in the life of a female protagonist, a ploy that many other television shows and movies are guilty of.
By Liz Isenberg
"I love that in season two episode 11, Dick says to Veronica "let it go, just let it go". It reminded me of Frozen.."