2004-2007, UPN, The CW
Created by Rob Thomas
Teen dramas often inspire a certain stigma amongst the general public. Though there are plenty of examples to prove the naysayers right, a handful of series rise above the rest and prove themselves just as intelligent and engaging as any adult-driven fare. Leading the pack is Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas’ darkly sarcastic, neo-noir series that just happens to be set in a high school. More detective mystery than teen soap, Veronica Mars emerged onto the television scene with its quick-witted originality, cementing itself as a pop-culture cult sensation while Kristen Bell’s effervescent performance as the title role rocketed her to stardom.
"If you go here, your parents are either millionaires or your parents work for millionaires. Neptune, California, a town without a middle class," Veronica narrates in the pilot episode. The fictional town and its school provides an excellent backdrop for the series’ startlingly on-point depiction of class warfare, race relations, and more. Veronica, of course, rests in the center of it all, helping her father (Enrico Colantoni), a private investigator, solve cases while running her own investigations at Neptune High.
Veronica Mars is strongest in its freshman year, a season-long arc that follows the mysterious circumstances of the murder of Veronica’s best friend Lilly Kane (a then unknown Amanda Seyfried). Thomas layers the plot-lines and clues masterfully, all while introducing the audience to a diverse cast of characters that bring the vibrant Neptune, CA to life. The series remains strong throughout its second season as well, when a fatal school-bus crash takes center stage during Veronica’s senior year. Like many a teen tale before it, Veronica Mars struggles when it sends its leads off to college during its third (and unfortunately final) year, but through thick and thin manages to resonate thanks to engaging relationships developed across all three seasons.
Bell and Colantoni bring to life a father-daughter relationship that feels real and heartfelt, never letting it drift into saccharine territory. Veronica’s friendship with Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III) is another consistent high point of the series, as is - love it or hate it - Veronica’s star-crossed romance with Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) thanks to the electric chemistry between the two actors.
Even a lackluster third season, and premature cancellation, couldn’t stop this little series that could, as Thomas’ recent Kickstarter campaign to fund a Veronica Mars movie was a huge success. Set to premiere in 2014, the film promises to reintroduce fans to the world of Neptune while hopefully providing some closure to the open-ended third season finale.
There has never been a better time to catch-up on (or revisit) Veronica’s adventures. Take a trip to Neptune; you’re sure to love Ms. Mars.