After hearing for years how great a show Veronica Mars was-- and after catching a total of maybe three episodes from the third season-- a friend lent me the season one DVDs so I could finally see for myself just about what all the fuss was. I know, I know; I'm a day late and a dollar short once again, but honestly with the amount of television I watch-- all still DVR-less-- I just haven't had the time to potentially get invested in another one!
Veronica Mars as both a show and a character is clever, witty, and just sassy enough to keep me interested and keep me rooting for it/her. The Who Dun It? aspect of both each weekly case and the over-all murder mystery arc was keeping me more than enough to suck me in, but what is keeping me around is the strength of this girl who is supposed to be a teenager but has the wisdom and confidence of someone at least double her numerical age. Plus she has a dog named Back-Up who often saves the day, and that's pretty cool!
Veronica exudes the "girl power" attitude that seemed to just be taking true shape on television in the early 2000s. Watching the show this weekend, I couldn't help but see a lot of similarities to Allison Mack, also a WB star at the time who had the same strength and smarts...and even appearance. Veronica in many ways was the girl many wanted to be but couldn't for one reason or another: peer pressure, self-esteem issues, general teenage angst. But she was still flawed. And while she could have simply been flawed in the "bad friend" sense where she only seemed to go to people when she needed a favor, effectively using them and exploiting a friendship I sometimes had to raise an eyebrow at because of how one sided it was, that was not enough for the show. They still had to make her fall for the bad guy. Maybe her imperfections should have made her more real and relatable, but to me it was just cause to sigh "of course" a bit defeatedly.
Personally I just get really frustrated that even when a writer manages to create a strong, smart female character, she can never be intelligent in every way. Maybe it's a way of grounding them a little-- making them seem a bit more accessible. After all, viewers still need to see some vulnerability in a character in order to not only relate but also want to protect the character. Because even if she keeps a taser in her glove compartment, she's still a girl, and even modern pop culture teaches us that they will find themselves in peril time and again.
In the case of Veronica Mars, she's good with books and the streets, but she has the worst taste in men. I'm not going to get into every individual case because this isn't meant to be a study of her romantic failings. But knowing just how heavily invested so many fans were with the Logan/Veronica pairing before I ever turned on the pilot, I was more than appalled to see what the kid was really like.
Okay, look, I get the whole "bad boy with a heart of gold" thing maybe more than the next girl. I first fell for the mischievous ways of Zack Morris when I was a mere second grader, and just last month I picked Sawyer over Jack in a landslide when it came to with whom I'd rather be trapped on a deserted island. And then there's my favorite shotgun-toter, Dean Winchester. But the difference with those guys is they've always had good intentions-- ones we've seen glimpses of from the start-- but just gone about some things in a misguided way, for the sake of reputation or their pride or whatever. Logan Echolls, on the other hand, was from the start a drugging cheerleaders, orchestrating bum fights, spoiled, entitled poor excuse for a man. None of that says "I'm really a good guy on the inside but I just made a mistake." Instead it all screams "I'm a sociopath just like my father!" Veronica could have, should have, and even previously actually had done better!
There was nothing about Logan in the early episodes that showed remorse for any of his actions. Instead he seemed to relish every time he was a prick to the non-09ers, Veronica included. He got his kicks and his sense of power just how any and every rich kid in America seems to: living in excess, swimming in special treatment, and ignoring the consequences of his actions. There was a glimmer of hope for him during the one episode he and Weevil seemingly sort of bonded in detention, but that went out the window pretty quickly. And don't even begin to tell me that because he had a screwed up family, he was even more adorable for being damaged. I could understand Veronica wanting to "save" him from his abusive household...if he wasn't an abuser himself in so many ways. And personally, her attraction to him made me think twice about her judgment in other areas.
Granted, I have only seen through the season one finale at this point, so I haven't seen the rest of their journey that supposedly made fans swoon even harder. And yes, I understand the need to "ship" shows...maybe more so than the next person, and in that sense I agree that as someone troubled and brooding, Logan is much more interesting than preppy and "vanilla" Duncan. The complexity can make him intriguing to an audience or the girl he is trying to attract. But he is who he is, and just because who he is didn't end up including "murderer," I don't believe he truly fits into the category of the "bad boy with the heart of gold."