On Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars: Girl. Detective.

By Evelyn Vaughn

Do me a favor. Read this, the opening voiceover from the pilot episode of Veronica Mars:

Veronica (V.O.): This is my school. If you go here, your parents are either millionaires, or your parents work for millionaires. Neptune, california: a town without a middle class. If you’re in the second group, you get a job: fast food, movie theaters, mini-marts. Or you could be me. My after-school job means tailing philandering spouses or investigating false injury claims.

Now–read it again, and imagine it being spoken by humphrey Bogart.

If you immediately started thinking about cigarette smoke, men in fedoras, and femmes fatale with great gams, then clearly it’s work-ing–Rob Thomas (a TV God, along with the likes of Joss Whedon and Aaron Sorkin) has created a hard-boiled detective protagonist out of a little blonde california girl.

Cool, huh?

The fact that the series is neo-noir isn’t particularly earth-shatter-ing. What’s notable about its success in this arena, though, is the importance words play in creating that effect. More specifically, Veronica’s words.

The power of the voiceover narration in Veronica Mars to capture the hard-boiled detective feel, however, is only half of the equation. The narration also captures–bear with me, here–a completely unexpected but unmistakably girly vibe.

Don’t believe me?

Do me a favor. Read the following voiceover, from a lunch-period scene in the pilot:

Veronica (V.O.): it’s not like my family met the minimum net worth requirement. My dad didn’t own his own airline like John En-bom’s, or serve  …

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