On Veronica Mars

Innocence Lost

The Third Wave of Teen Girl Drama
By Samantha Bornemann

Let’s start with a show of hands. Who else spent the Veronica Mars pilot waiting for the other, supernatural shoe to drop?

Wow, that many. . . .

Well, buck up, my fellow brainwashees. There’s no shame in assuming a high school girl needs some kind of mystical hook or higher power to claim a show all her own. Obviously, you’re A-plus students of recent TV history.

As for the rest of you, stifle the smirks, please, and consider that Veronica came along a full decade after My So-Called Life. As you all should know, that series revolved around Angela chase, a regular fif-teen-year-old attending a humans-only high school. (And no, I am not forgetting that the halloween and christmas episodes involved ghosts. Those flights of fancy are immaterial here.) critics raved about Winnie holzman’s intricate writing and the series’s uniformly marvelous performances, but the show suffered for thursday-night ratings opposite a freshman comedy called–that’s right–Friends. Angela lasted just nineteen episodes as the red-headed step-child of ABC’s 1994—95 schedule.

She’s lingered far longer, however, as a cautionary tale. Scared off by her example, the networks made sure subsequent high school heroines were special. Buffy was the Slayer. Joan of Arcadia kept company with a corporeal, very bossy God. And Dead Like Me’s eighteen-year-old Georgia–well, the gimmick’s in the title.

Veronica Mars breaks this pattern. No monsters. No deities. No afterlife. But if we can’t lump Veronica in with those “chosen” protagonists, neither can we label the series a throwback to  …

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