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A Marshmallow, A Twinkie

Sometimes I have this beautiful dream wherein my father is Steven Colbert and my mother is PJ Harvey and I am their loving child, Veronica Mars. 
Veronica Mars! She is so great! She is played by Kristin Bell, who also happens to be The Voice of Gossip Girl, and while Gossip Girl is fun – kind of like Cruel Intentions, if Cruel Intentions were a TV show, and also if its costume designer had some sort of serious mental illness that made her believe a teen Lothario should dress like The Joker going to a country club - Veronica Mars, Bell’s finest work, is a teen drama about 9,000 times more implausible and entertaining. Should you be suffering from post-holiday malaise, a general lack of faith in humanity, and/or a bank account surplus of about $60, I can think of no better cure for your condition than purchasing its first season on DVD. 
We live in tough times, my friends – and no-one has it tougher than teenage girls. (Note: this is not true. I am making a point.) They cry out for role models – girls, cynical girls, tough girls, girls who are practiced in the art of the snappy comeback – and are answered with nothing more than Katy Perry’s faux-rebellious misogyny and the nude (or nude-like) photos of virginal Disney stars. Girls of America, I am telling you: Veronica Mars is the model of roles you seek. Here is her very first line in her very first scene: 

I know, right? She’s so grumpy! And also, a teen detective! It’s totally unrealistic: in real life, detectives have to be grown-ups, and girls are all big muffin baskets full of sunshine and puppies who see the best in everyone. Oh, no, wait, only one of those things is true! 
So, anyway, at this point you are no doubt asking, “why so glum, Veronica?” The answer is complicated, including as it does (a) her best friend’s murder, (b) her dad losing his job as the result of said murder, and (c) her transformation into a high school pariah, but here is maybe one of the biggest pieces of that answer, which also happens to be the precise point at which I became a fan of the show: 

Okay, here are two things: first, DO NOT LOOK AT THE RELATED LINKS. DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS. Or, if your stomach is strong, do. Because if there is one thing they will teach you, it is that rape is an ongoing and huge presence in our society, an epidemic, in fact, and there are people – lots of people, too many people – who think that is just fine and dandy, and in fact really hot. 
Which leads us straight to the second point: given the cultural climate, it is in fact incredible, and moving, and great, that Veronica Mars dared in its very first episode to introduce us to a strong, smart, identifiable female character whose personality and views on life are based in no small way on the fact that she is a rape survivor, and that they bypassed the “weepy victim” and “hysterical revenge-seeker” stereotypes to make her damaged yet determined, flawed yet admirable, likable yet never too worried about being liked – you know, kind of like a real live girl. I mean, how great is it that they never blame her for having a drink? And how sad is it that not blaming her is so unusual? Yes, the show drops the ball later, in some very major ways, but I will always be grateful for the fact that, rather than spending the entire series curled up in a fetal ball or castrating men with rusty scissors, Veronica moves ahead from being “that girl” to being this one: 

Okay, so that was a little castratey. However, it was also totally fun, and relatable, and also exactly what all of my Friday nights used to look like, which is why I don’t go to that many bars any more. 
Veronica Mars is a teen drama. Its music is terrible, its premises are unrealistic, and its overall aesthetic is at times unbearably cheesy, as evidenced by the fact that I am currently watching an episode in which JTT plays a federal agent. However, as a gay rights activist whose name I cannot track down once asked, “aren’t we entitled to the same mediocrity as everyone else?” The answer, say I, is yes – and the “we” of whom I speak, this time around, is girls. Cynical girls, tough girls, girls who are (or who aspire to be) practiced in the art of the snappy comeback. Girls who have a surprise hidden under that angry young woman shell: 

Twinkies, yum. 

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Um, i spent last night reading your archives and watching V. Mars.

    It’s official. You (alongside Amanda Hess, of course) are my soul mate.

    Monday, December 29, 2008 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  2. Sady wrote:

    Yayyyy, now we can start that cult I’ve always wanted!

    Monday, December 29, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink
  3. angryyoungwoman wrote:

    Wow, I don’t watch a lot of tv, but I might have to start watching that. It looks pretty cool.

    Monday, December 29, 2008 at 6:04 pm | Permalink