On Veronica Mars

The Importance of Not Being Earnest

By Heather Havrilesky

“Sooner or later, the people you love let you down.” this is what Veronica Mars wants us to know first and foremost, in the first scene of the first episode of the first season of the show. Before she tells us a thing about herself, before she lays out all she’s been through in the past year, she wants to issue a warning to the na¯ve idealists and wide-eyed optimists out there, to prepare us for the disappointments to come. “Sooner or later” (maybe this week, maybe next month, maybe ten years from now) “the people you love” (your mom, your dad, your boyfriend, your so-called best friend) will “let you down” (break your heart, disappoint you, dump you like a bad habit, or have an affair with your boyfriend’s dad, skip town, and neglect to call or write).

Coming from an adult, such a sweeping statement would sound far too cynical and world-weary to bear. It would hint at a predisposition to blame, to hold grudges, to live in the past, and it would suggest an inability to get over it, to grow up, to move forward. The kind of grown-up who walks around spewing fatalistic truisms about the inevitability of being let down by the ones you love also typically wears lint-covered Cosby sweaters, eats at the same really bad diner three nights a week, and says things like, “Why get married when you can have a pet? Pets are much easier to live with–and a lot less  …

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