Character Spotlight: Veronica Mars

Show/Character: Veronica Mars

Played By: Kristen Bell

Why Are We Talking About Her Today: Because every time I’m on Facebook, I am BOMBARDED with ads and polls and videos for her latest movie When in Rome which, frankly, looks terrible. I, the lover of all romantic comedies, would honestly rather watch that Sarah Marshall classic about the cell phone that kills people (“Why don’t you just take the battery out of the phone?!”) than see yet another movie about a grasping “career woman” trying to get her hooks into a hot photographer who clearly nails everything in sight (but not in CINEMA, clearly) while in my favorite city in the world. And because I know there are hordes of people out there who believe little pixie-nugget Kristen Bell is famous for these slight-to-middling movie roles, which is just APPALLING considering who she got to play on TV.

So Who is Veronica Mars? (Asks my voice-over narrator): In the town of Neptune, CA, Veronica Mars is the local PI’s daughter. At school, she’s at the bottom of the social totem pole, the one-time best friend of the most popular kids in school before scandal and some big-time emotional traumas hit, turning fresh-faced, headband sporting, pep-squad leading Veronica into a cynical, wisecracking, bad-guy thwarting, pint-sized PI with a few major chips on her shoulder. Technically, she’s dad Keith Mars’ “assistant” at his dingy downtown office. Not-so-technically, she’s planting bugs, doing standard surveillance on cheating husbands, drawing out common thieves and crooks and basically making the whole Neptune Sheriff’s Department look like a bunch of Class-A morons.  She has precisely three friends to her name, new kid Wallace, computer nerd Mac and local gang-leader Weevil Navarro, horrible luck with boys, a doting dad, a runaway mom and a pitbull named Backup.

Why We Love: Rob Thomas (no, not THAT Rob Thomas)’s beloved show ran for an all-too-short three seasons on the WB/CW. Part teen drama, part noir, we loved Veronica Mars for its nifty premise (a screwy, insidious mystery unravels over the course of the season), its dynamic setting (the city of Neptune is all but its own character with half of it poor and crime-ridden and the other half filled with the filthy rich. Kind of like what The OC tried to do but a lot more effective. While those OC kids were busy punching poor Ryan Atwood in the face, Neptune’s rich kids were throwing boxing matches among drunk homeless guys) and some very taut, serious conflicts. A lot of the show’s material was pretty heady for your standard primetime show- murder, sexual and physical abuse, drugs. Those big time issues Veronica is dealing with in the show’s first episode include the aftermath of her best friend’s vicious murder, her alcoholic mom leaving town and her rape at a recent party (she was unconscious at the time). It’s all made her more than a little hard-boiled about her sleepy California town. Luckily for us, V is also bitingly funny, sharp and knows some pretty slick tricks of the PI trade, leading her classmates to solicit her help on the sly in her “office”, the school bathroom (aw, just like the Fonz!). She’s got heart, a hot, genuinely bad-boy love interest (remember the whole exploiting homeless guys thing? THAT guy), and she’s tough. Honestly, the only solace that comes with there being absolutely no way we’ll ever see our Veronica again is getting to imagine her all grown up, busting big-time baddies at the FBI and showing up her idiot cohorts.

And getting to watch free episodes of the show online here. For now, that’ll have to do.

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