On Veronica Mars

Lawless Neptune

By Alafair Burke

I owe the reader of this essay an initial disclosure. I am a compulsive, insatiable, and wholly devoted fan of Veronica Mars. I tiVo. I pause and rewind. I pre-order the DVDs on Amazon. I yearn to be BFFs with Kristen Bell and writing partners with Rob Thomas. yet despite my passion, an occasional guilty pang of disloyalty prevents me from calling myself a proud, unapologetic devotee. Why? Because, whenever I tout my fondness for all things Veronica, I find myself serving up an explanatory defense on the side.

The conversation usually goes something like this:

Friend: I’m addicted to [insert well-known water cooler TV show here: Lost, CSI, 24–whatever].

Me: Yeah, that’s all right, but the best show on television is Veronica Mars.

Friend: Isn’t that about that teenage detective?

Me:[long pause] Um, it’s hard to explain. She’s in high school. And her dad used to be the sheriff, but now he’s a detective. And she solves all these mysteries, but it’s not like Nancy Drew. It’s darker. And also funny. But really dark. It’s like Buffy without the vampires. And, hey, they actually give you answers every season, not like that other show.

By the end of the conversation, my friend is seriously questioning my judgment in show selection, and I find myself frustrated. I’m a criminal law professor. I’m a former prosecutor. I write mystery novels with sex, violence, and cuss words. And I am convinced that loving Veronica Mars in no way undermines my gritty crime-story cred.

And yet  …

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