Fighting with the Sky

My Latest Canceled Show Obsession

Posted on: October 14, 2009

VERONICA MARSBased on the recommendations of others (particularly meloukhia), I have started watching Veronica Mars…and I love it!  I am about halfway through the second season right now and I can’t wait to get the next discs from Netflix.  There are of course some problematic things with the show (stereotypes, slut-shaming, etc…more later), I think that Veronica Mars is an overall feminist show.

Veronica Mars is a show about (surprise!) a teenager named Veronica Mars, played by Kristen Bell.  Her dad is the ex-sheriff, now private detective in a town in Southern Califonia called Neptune.  Veronica plays a large role in her dad’s private detective agency and all runs investigations through her school.  Her best friend, Wallace, is usually her accomplice and she has a group of people who she turns to for information.  She has run-ins with the now sheriff who pretends like he doesn’t want her help, but often takes the leads that she gives him.

The running investigation in the first season is that of the murder of her best friend, Lily, which is solved in the season finale.  Lily was the daughter of a wealthy family whose son (and Lily’s brother) is Veronica’s ex-boyfriend (then boyfriend again in the second season).  In the second season, the running investigation is that of a bus crash that killed 8 students.  There appears to be an explosion in the bus that caused it to drive over a cliff.  As I am not done with the second season yet, the investigation of the bus crash is not yet over.

So, why is this a feminist show?  Veronica Mars is all about a girl taking her life into her own hands.  She investigates everything from blackmail to murder to theft.  She doesn’t care what people think about her and she’s not afraid to get in people’s faces.

Other than the fact that Veronica Mars is about a kick-ass woman, it tackles some really great issues.  The show actually has a pretty good representation of the diversity of Southern California.  Many other shows that take place in Southern California fall into the same old tv show model…an all-white cast.  While a large amount of the cast of Veronica Mars is white, there are also a large amount of African American and Latino/a characters that are major players in the show.  The show also tackles class issues.  The high school that Veronica Mars attends is heavily populated by “09-ers” – the people who live in a certain zip code that are very wealthy.  Veronica, on the other hand, is not wealthy and there is a big divide between the “09-ers” and people who don’t live in that zip code.  Veronica has the uncanny ability to somewhat navigate between these two worlds.  Her best friend Lily and her ex-boyfriend Duncan, as well as her other ex-boyfriend, Logan, are all “09-ers.”  She kind of fit in with that world, at least with those people.  But once she doesn’t associate with them anymore, she’s cast out of the “09-er” crowd.  These situations really highlight class issues that happen in real life, and not just in high school.  The show also handles issues of rape, exploring and developing one’s sexuality, and domestic violence.

For such a feminist show, though, there is a large amount of slut-shaming.  Women who slept with their boyfriends, slept with people other than their boyfriends, or were even raped were shamed.  Most of the shaming was done by high school boys — and even occassinally high school girls — but I didn’t really think that it was necessary.  Not only was there slut-shaming for women who freely expressed their sexuality, there was slut-shaming for women who were raped and had not control over what was happening to them.  Not cool.

There was some occassional problematic language and events, but the slut-shaming was the only ongoing, overall thing that I saw wrong with the show.  What do others think?  Is there something I’m missing?  Or is Veronica Mars really the awesome, feminist show that I see it as?

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3 Responses to "My Latest Canceled Show Obsession"

Addictive isn’t it? I was SO sad when it go canceled as were many people. The slut-shaming bothered me too. Although: is it a reflection of our culture? Look at the double standards. You hear of girls giving guys oral ALL the time. Not many a case of the boys in the back of the bus going down on a teen girl!

If I tell people how many guys I’ve had sex with as a single 40 y.o many might think “slut.” I say: not many boyfriends, some one night stands, I’ve been having sex for 20 years etc.

I agree in general about some of the attitudes toward women and promiscuity, but I think you might want to watch the whole series before you make too many conclusions. Without spoiling future episodes, I’ll just say that as a full work, the episodes do resolve some of those issues in interesting ways. That’s one of the things I love about VM: nothing is laid to rest until the show’s untimely demise.

It’s been a while since I watched the series (I gulped down seasons 1 and 2 in record time through Netflix right before season 3 started), but season 3 really explores rape and related issues.

And although the characters on the show treated Veronica really badly regarding her being roofied, I always thought the show was presenting it in a way where the viewer was supposed to be outraged for her. I mean, right in the first episode, Veronica bluntly and firmly states that she was roofied and raped. When I watched it, I thought it was really powerful and I knew this show was going to be something bold and different – how many times do women, especially teens, stand up and say, “This happened to me”? We’re still a society where rape is sort of hush-hush and shameful.

I did really love the class issues that the first two seasons explored – again, it was bold, pretty much the anti-90210.

Enjoy the rest of season 2 and 3, although I can’t say I enjoyed season 3 anywhere near as much as the first two. It loses that balance where all the characters get plenty of screentime, especially since one of the actors was MIA due to knee surgery.

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