Monday, June 14, 2010

Late To The Party Again...But To This One I'd Rather Go Alone...

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."


Jamie said...

Logan Echolls and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights are always my two examples of "in real life, they'd be terrifying, but in fiction, they are my dream boyfriends." I really should stop complaining about Edward Cullen considering I know full well what bad news Logan and Heathcliff are, and I JUST DON'T CARE.

Jamie said...

Okay addendum. I don't have to stop complaining about Edward Cullen. Because I know Logan and Heathcliff suck, and in real life I'd run away fast. Most of the young girls who love Edward don't even see that he's bad news. They think he's legitimately perfect. Complaining resumed!

Vlada said...

I think Kristen Bell actually auditioned for the role of Chloe. She and Allison definitely looked alike back then.

Annie said...

If you think "a strong, smart female" is lessened because of her love for this character, then I'm assuming you're saying the same about the female fans who love Logan, too. This entire entry smacks of that condescension, so I just wanted to defend one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. For the record, I think of myself as intelligent and strong and I know my love for Logan is because of the character and not a "need" to ship him with Veronica.

Logan Echolls, on the other hand, was from the start a drugging cheerleaders, orchestrating bum fights, spoiled, entitled poor excuse for a man.

Firstly, Logan never drugged any cheerleaders. He only took GHB for himself and then drugged Duncan. Stupid, yes, but not malicious. The girls who were drugged at the party were drugged by other '09ers. Tad drugged Carmen and Dick took a dose from Luke to drug Madison (which is how Veronica ended up drugged).

Secondly, I have to totally disagree that the show never showed Logan with a glimpse of good. Before the bum fights there was the episode with Lilly's memorial video, which showed the thawing in the Logan and Veronica antagonism while touching on their relationship pre-series, back when they were friends.

The bum fights were awful, but I think Logan at least paid a small penance when he said he announced his father's "plan" to donate a large sum of money to the food bank.

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.

Why? The Weevil and Logan animosity was hardly one-sided to begin with, and I don't think anything takes away from Logan's somewhat positive actions toward him in that episode. If you're referring to their tension continuing in further episodes, it probably has something to do with Logan figuring out here that Weevil was seeing Lilly before she died.

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 think it's a little more than a "screwed up" family, and I totally, completely disagree that Logan is an abuser himself or anything he does says that he's like Aaron. As a fan of his, that is so insulting to me.

What about standing up for his sister Trina when he saw her boyfriend beat her? What about when he stood up for Veronica in front of all his friends, saying if they had a problem with her they were dead to him? What about when he completely shrugged off her initially accusing him of raping her, claiming he didn't care about that, only her and if she was okay? What about him totally understanding her leaving him in his pool house, telling her to take all of the time she needed?

Also, it was heavily inferred that Logan's season one actions were uncharacteristic of him. Duncan and Connor Larkin express that sentiment in An Echolls Family Christmas. I think we're supposed to see that Logan's attitude is a result of losing Lilly, as well as Duncan (to his meds) and Veronica (to her father).

Annie said...

It's funny you say that just because he didn't end up a murderer that he wasn't really a bad boy with a heart of gold (which is a cliche and I don't think he falls in that category either) but you bring up Sawyer earlier. Sawyer IS a murderer, as well as someone responsible for even more deaths because of his own resentment clouding judgment. Or Dean Winchester, who is easily one of the most misogynistic characters in television. You can defend them because you like them, not just because they were shown "glimpses" of good from the start. If you make up your mind that you don't like them, it's easy to be blind to those glimpses.

I recommend that you don't watch the next two seasons. Not only will you find more to hate about Logan, but the overall quality drops in every way-the mysteries (when they exist) are sloppy or nonsensical, there's a lot of character regression, and it's just not nearly as good as the first season. A lot of times I wish I had stopped at the first season so the show wouldn't have been tainted for me by some of the awfulness later.

Annie said...

And I don't know why my HTML isn't showing up, still. Hope you can still make sense of my comments without it.