Pop-Culture | Posted by Becka W on 09/23/2010

Veronica Mars: One Badass Chick

Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars

Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars

I’m not sure how many other F-Bomb readers out there watch (or rather, watched) Veronica Mars, but I’m obsessed thanks to Netflix Instant Watch and a little bit of spare time at the start of the semester.

Veronica Mars, for those of you who haven’t seen it, was a television show that had three seasons from 2004 – 2007. It was awesome. Veronica was sassy, smart, and determined. The series initially revolved around Veronica sticking by her dad, Keith Mars, who was the former sheriff of Neptune, CA but was thrown out of office for his theories that Lilly Kane (Veronica’s former best friend/sister of her ex-boyfriend; daughter of the wealthy Kane family) wasn’t murdered by the man who came forward and admitted to it. Keith and Veronica lost everything they had and Keith started his own detective agency, Mars Investigations, where Veronica has an after- school job. As the series kept going, Veronica investigated a School Bus Crash in the second season and a serial rapist at Hearst College (her school) in the third season.

Veronica is more than just a modern-day Nancy Drew. She was a real expert in being a Private Investigator, unparalleled in her knowledge of people and the law, and on an almost equal ground as her father. She keeps her cool in dangerous situations, commands attention and respect when she walks in the room, and is relatable. She’s professional, tough, but still retains her femininity – she isn’t portrayed as some silly girl or as a butch, un-feminine girl. She kicks ass, takes names, and knows what’s up.

So what does this mean for us as women and girls? Sure, Veronica Mars was cancelled a long time ago. Just because I’m late to the game, however, doesn’t make it less important. In fact, Veronica is a feminist icon I feel we keep forgetting about in our discussions of women in popular culture – not just because she’s sassy and smart, but because the topics in her episodes explore issues that face women and girls today.

In one of the first episodes, it’s explained that Veronica is roofied and raped at an end-of-the-year party at someone’s house. She woke up without underwear on, with no memory of what happened the night before after someone slipped her the drink. Although Veronica is strong and independent, she shows us how devastating and scary the experience of being the victim of rape can be. She went to the authorities, but with little to go on, they couldn’t help her.

Later on, when Veronica finds out who it was that raped her she screams at him and takes him on head-on. While Logan (her boyfriend) comes to her aid, she is the one who confronts the man who wronged her. When she arrives at Hearst College, she is confronted with the plotline of the serial rapist. She vows to find the man (or men) responsible for the rapes and plunges head-on into the investigations; connecting with the rape victims along the way based on their common experiences.

Mars even takes on issues like racism, with Veronica’s friendship with Wallace and Jackie, both African-Americans who, particularly for Jackie, in one episode face false accusations of stealing money for the Senior Class Trip, which Veronica solves. It also tackles poverty and racism, with Weevil, the head of the PCHers, a predominantly Latino gang in Neptune, developing a friendship with Veronica (“V” as he calls her) who constantly helps clear Weevil of accusations or get to the bottom of the issue.

The one issue I had with the way Veronica Mars portrayed women is the way they portrayed the members of “Lilith House” – although mostly portrayed as feminists who care about the well-being of women on campus, the fact that they faked a rape in an attempt to get the fraternities kicked off campus seemed a little petty; even if the fraternities had a competition about who could sleep with the most women between the rush candidates – rape is a serious issue and a horrible thing to happen to a woman, and to fake a crime diminishes the legitimacy of the cause.

Despite this negative portrayal, the strong character of Veronica brings us back to how great this show was. Veronica is the strongest in her Criminology classes, a field dominated by men, and she gets A’s on her papers and even gets an internship with the FBI for the summer after her Freshman Year.

Overall, I loved Veronica Mars. Veronica is an awesome, hilarious, sexy, and strong character and a role model all women and girls should look up to. The show’s stereotype of the Lilith House, however, and their unintentional delegitimizing of their cause was not one I was very pleased with.

SO – what do you guys think? How many of you have seen the show? Love it? Hate it? Think it should have ended differently? Disagree with me? Agree with me? Leave it below!

Becka also writes for her own blog, Becka Tells All.

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  • Check out my new blog post over at The F Bomb! « Becka Tells All @ at 11:31 am, September 23rd, 2010

    [...] veronica mars After a way too long hiatus from blogging for them, I’m back baby! Click here to read my new blog, about whether or not Veronica Mars can be considered a [...]

  • Becca @ at 12:03 pm, September 23rd, 2010

    I’m a big fan of Veronica Mars, and am glad you brought it up! That being said, however, I think that season three was easily the weakest season, at which point the show started to veer away a bit from its awesome feminist message, and started to get more muddled. The relationship with Logan was, in particular I felt, particularly problematic as the show progressed.

  • Zoe @ at 12:30 pm, September 23rd, 2010

    “I fell asleep watching Veronica Mars again, hey!” I always wondered what Motion City Soundtrack was referring to (I thought some old 80′s show, as they tend to do).

    I’m happy to hear about this show and have it explained to me. Next time I’m looking for a TV show to watch, I’ll look for this.

    One issue:”She’s professional, tough, but still retains her femininity – she isn’t portrayed as some silly girl or as a butch, un-feminine girl.”

    I know you were trying to paint a positive image of Veronica but you did it by putting down other girls. Being butch or “silly” aren’t negative traits.

  • Natalia @ at 12:36 pm, September 23rd, 2010

    Yeah I agree with Zoe. Why is it silly if someone is “butch” or unfeminine. That’s very insulting. And very narrow minded in terms of views on women. Femininity is just a mask, a show we put on. A Variety in women’s personalities and personal styles is what makes us truly real.

  • Becka W @ at 1:00 pm, September 23rd, 2010

    @Natalia and Zoe – I wasn’t referring to women and girls being “butch” or “silly” in the sense of real-life people, but instead of media stereotypes of women. Far too often, women and girls are either tough and “butch”, trying to become a man; or silly in the sense that they don’t understand the way the world really works and are insulated in their own world. Instead, I was referring to Veronica as more of a real role-model, and a reflection of real women and girls — not trying to insult other people!

    Sorry about that, should have been clearer!

  • Laura @ at 1:43 pm, September 23rd, 2010

    Love, love, love Veronica Mars.
    I agree that the whole Lillith house was a little troubling. However, I attribute that to the fact that the network was interfering much more with plot lines.
    That being said, it was consistently one of the best written shows on TV and it also contained some incredibly complex, nuanced female characters. Those are two qualities that most shows on today lack.

  • A @ at 8:31 pm, September 23rd, 2010

    Zoe- I think Becca meant that usually female characters who are strong, independent people are portrayed as either butch or as a “silly” sidekick. I concur that there is nothing wrong with that, but it’s good to see something else too.

  • Morgan @ at 8:53 pm, September 23rd, 2010

    wow I am soooo so happy you wrote about Veronica. Her along with Buffy (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) are my fictional heroine’s.
    I love love love this show, and own all the seasons, and her character. Even though she doesn’t describe herself as feminist, she definetely is.

  • Alex F. @ at 9:30 pm, September 23rd, 2010

    I haven’t seen Veronica Mars, but I agree with Morgan! Buffy is my favorite show EVER! I love Willow :) Now I should atch Veronica Mars I guess!

  • Liz @ at 11:13 am, September 24th, 2010

    I finally got into Veronica Mars as well in the 4 days before I went to study abroad (and Netflix doesn’t work outside the US… noo!) and blasted through 2 and a half seasons in about 70 hours and loved it. I do agree that the portrayal of the feminists in season 3 (which is not as good as the first 2 seasons) is problematic, and it reflects TV/entertainment’s misunderstanding and mistreatment of feminism. Veronica Mars is clearly a feminist, but the show pits her against Lilith house as if Veronica was not a part of all that “crazy.” This is kind of typical for TV, and I wish it hadn’t been like that, but overall, the show is amazing and Veronica Mars is a feminist icon.

  • Rabha @ at 11:45 am, September 25th, 2010

    HUGE fan of Veronica Mars here. She’s awesome and gutsy and never afraid of standing up for herself even when she’s faced with the scariest of people, holding the most powerful positions in town. It’s my favorite show and always will be.

    I really wish there were strong female characters like Veronica on TV right now. And I really wish the show hadn’t been canceled. I know some people think it deserved it because of season 3, but had it stayed on air, I’m sure it’d have bounced back.

    I miss VM :(

  • typhonatemybaby @ at 4:54 pm, September 26th, 2010

    I think its worth noting the way the writers on veronica mars protayed peoples reactions to a girl in her position: A lot of underestimation, followed by surprise at her ability or competence and other situations along these lines.

    Also,the way that the characters try to enact revenge on her is interesting as well: one storyline revolves around a sex tape of her and her boyfriend being leaked,involving on scene where one of the poelle who spread it says “I always forward porn to my entire inbox. especially if its good”.

    says a lot doesnt it?

  • Tessa @ at 6:36 pm, September 28th, 2010

    @Ryan

    I’ll read it if you post it, but I doubt it’ll be anything but insulting generalizations about women

  • Nicci @ at 10:22 pm, October 3rd, 2010

    Yes, thanks to Netflix I got to relive the episodes of VM. I loved it when it was on air. Sad the last season ended weird…they probably were expecting another season. Great story line that I can watch over again.

  • Body Loving Blogosphere 10.03.10 | medicinal marzipan @ at 10:24 pm, October 3rd, 2010

    [...] the fbomb, Veronica Mars: One Badass Chick [...]

  • Renee @ at 6:28 pm, June 14th, 2011

    I love veronica Mars and I really love the whole lilith house thing…ugh I want another detective girl this veronica sized whole needs to be filled!!!

  • inquisitive bibliophile @ at 1:05 pm, November 26th, 2012

    Huge fan of V. Mars, but I will say I wasn’t crazy about her romantic relationships with Duncan or Logan–I did think Piz was a good guy though.

    My favorite thing about the character was that she seemed to be such a chameleon, she was always able to slip in somewhere random depending on what she wore or how she talked.

    Although I will say every time she helped someone new at her school I was kind of confused when they didn’t know who she was–she was quite the troublemaker (in a good way) so I always thought it odd that people would have no clue who she was.

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