On Veronica Mars

I'm in Love with My Car

Automotive Symbolism on Veronica Mars
By Lawrence Watt-Evans

Neptune, California–a coastal town somewhere not too far from San Diego. It’s fairly typical of southern california in many ways, deliberately so. It’s got its share of the very wealthy–movie stars, software millionaires–but most of the town isn’t so fortunate. If you work your way down to the bottom of the social ladder, you’ll find the hispanic families who supply the wealthy with maids and gardeners.

In Veronica’s voiceover introduction in the pilot episode of Veronica Mars, she told us Neptune has no middle class–just the wealthy and the people who clean their homes and tend their gardens. This isn’t literally true, by any means, as we see plenty of schoolteachers, mechanics, and the like, but it’s uncomfortably close.

Perhaps as a result, the people of Neptune, including the students at Neptune high, take social status very seriously. They’re always alert to the markers that indicate who’s better than whom–the clothes they wear, the accents in their speech, their manners, the cars they drive….

Oh, yeah. definitely the cars they drive. In Neptune, what you drive tells the world who you are. And someone at the show clearly put a lot of thought into who drives what.

Once upon a time, if they showed cars at all, TV shows would typically give every character a fairly generic vehicle; often, every car on a given show would come from a single manufacturer, who provided them free as part of an advertising deal. The closing credits would include a line like, “Vehicles courtesy of Ford Motor  …

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