Kristen Bell - Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars (2004–19)
Stories & Ideas

Wed 31 Jul 2019

Tasers & Tragedy: Why the Veronica Mars reboot misses the mark

Pop culture Television
ACMI X colourful wall

Caitlin Cronin

Creator and producer of the ACMI Women & Non-Binary Gamers Club

A fan's take on the latest season of our favourite teen mystery series

This article contains spoilers for season 4 of Veronica Mars.

Veronica Mars has never been a show that shies away from its gritty noir roots. This latest season sees Veronica, with her standard cynical doggedness, investigate a series of bombings across Neptune during the alcohol-fuelled Spring break celebrations. While the action, sleuthing and witty repartee we’ve come to expect from Veronica Mars are all there, there is something about this reboot that lacks the heart of the original show.

This missing spark might come from the shift away from the mystery-of-the-week format, to a shorter season of episodes focused on one single overarching crime. While a short season is not always a bad thing (we’re a society of bingers after all), this change has meant less time committed to the world and story of Neptune; we miss seeing many of the characters and situations that gave the show its charisma. Most importantly though, we have less opportunity to see Veronica doing what she does best: solving crimes and smirking in the faces of all the cheaters, liars, murderers and general wrongdoers of the world.

Which brings us to the next thing that is missing from this season – Veronica. Or at least the Veronica we know.

Our marshmallow-centred heroine has long been cast as a shining example of how to create an empowered, yet realistic, female character. She still has strengths – quick wit and a penchant for snooping – as well as her faults, but this season Veronica is, to be honest, almost unlikable.

She treats many of those around her with an air of rigid superiority that is staggering: directing snide comments at Logan for seeking psychological help; accusing Weevil of being a criminal sell-out; even rolling her eyes at friend Wallace’s stable family life. All this she does whilst simultaneously regressing to some strange adolescent phase that involves casual party drugs and toying with infidelity. The show's fan-base may have grown up, but Veronica seems to have taken three steps back.

You need look no further than the final fifteen minutes of the season for an example of this regression. In a decision that shows, at a minimum: a complete and utter lack of creativity by the writers, and at the worst: a toxic approach to character development, Veronica’s long-time love, recent husband and generally great character Logan, is killed in a sudden explosion.

While showrunner Rob Thomas has explained his decision stating that, “There’s a reason you don’t see many hard-boiled detective shows where the lead detective has a boyfriend or a girlfriend; it kind of limits your options”, this death sends the message that Veronica is not an interesting character without some kind of trauma or emotional damage. She apparently cannot have a loving relationship at home while also being a whip-smart detective. Yes, part of what makes Veronica who she is is the tragedy she has weathered, but it does not and should not define her.

While this season does have a lot to offer viewers – there’s some great dialogue and the overall mystery is certainly intriguing – it also does a lot to undermine the trust that has been placed in this popular show over the years. Many fans will likely take umbrage at the treatment of these beloved characters and should be prepared for some post viewing, taser-wielding rage.

For me, while I’m not ready to let Veronica go just yet, I’m certainly feeling less LoVe in the room.

– Caitlin Cronin