thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

How to Be Awesome Like… Veronica Mars

In girl culture, teen soaps on October 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Sarah Todd

“Veronica Mars,” Wallace proclaims with a grin in an early episode of everyone’s favorite teen detective drama, “you should hear what people say about you!”

Wallace is referring to the swirls of high school rumors that surround Veronica like a vituperative Starry Night, but she really should hear all the great things fans of the show have to say about her. Veronica Mars is a heroine for the ages. She’s tough, smart, sassy (50 points!) and flawed in the very real ways that most non-television characters are. The soul of Humphrey Bogart resides within that 5 foot blonde. What’s more, she’s a shining beacon of hope for anyone who’s ever struggled with self-esteem issues, because if there’s one thing Veronica has, it’s self-respect–the kind that starts with natural strength and gets honed by facing down a whole town that’s turned against her.

And so, without further ado: some ways to do awesomeness, VM-style.

  • Be a protector. Veronica stands up to power (most frequently in the form of Sheriff Lamb and the privileged 909-ers). Not only that, she does her best to convince people to stand up to power themselves. This exchange from “Hot Dogs” provides a great example: here, Veronica confronts a rich, popular guy who’s been picking on a girl who has a crush on him.

Veronica Mars: Did you crank call Mandy?
Dude: What if I did?
Veronica Mars: Well, I wanna congratulate you, shake your hand. Congratulations. You’ve been named the world’s biggest cockroach. This award is given in recognition of your unparallelled lack of decency and humanity. Bravo. You’re gonna die friendless and alone.
Dude: Hey everyone knows you’re the biggest…
Veronica Mars: Shut up! If I want you to speak, I’ll wave a snausage under your nose. If you use Mandy again to try to convince yourself you’re not a loser, I will ruin your life, got it? You got it?
Dude: Okay, geez.
Mandy: I can’t believe you did that…
Veronica Mars: I can’t believe that you didn’t! You want people to leave you alone, Mandy, or better yet treat you with respect? Demand it. Make them.

  • Never let people see their blows land. Whether it’s a big fake smile and a finger gun for Dick after he makes a gross double entendre, a snappy comeback, or simply walking away, Veronica never gives jerks the satisfaction of seeing her get ruffled.
  • If you ever have the opportunity, befriend the leader of the local motorcycle gang. He’ll be good in a pinch.
  • Know how to apologize when you’re wrong. Veronica’s not a perfect character, which is huge part of what makes her so great. She’s overly suspicious of others, big on revenge and payback, stubborn, and a bit bulldozing. However, she’s also a big enough person to recognize that she’s made a mistake and say she’s sorry. Most frequently, these apologies are to her dad or Wallace, the two people who love her best and are–perhaps as a result–most frequently manipulated by Veronica in the name of serving justicce.
  • When people underestimate you, use it to your advantage. People are always dismissing Veronica because she’s a tiny blonde teenage girl (not unlike a certain vampire slayer). But she turns dismissals into a weapon: since nobody suspects her, she’s all the more likely to crack a case. And the satisfaction of proving her doubters wrong gives Veronica extra motivation.
  • Be curious. The secret to Veronica’s success as a detective isn’t her hardboiled demeanor, persistence, or even her quick thinking. It’s that Veronica wants mysteries solved and discrepancies explained. Even when she doesn’t want to work a case, she ends up taking it on just because she wants answers. Her interest in the world around her, and in exposing the darkness underneath, is perhaps her biggest driving force.

What am I missing, Neptune fans? Please feel free to share your own Veronica-like awesomeness tips below.

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  1. Sometimes being sarcastic to someone who flaunts their ill-gotten life advantages without them realizing it can make you feel better about the unfairness of life.

  2. Have a big heart inside your toughness, and don’t let any amount of backstabbing take that away. Just rewatched the episode where Wallace finds out that Veronica’s been making spirit boxes for him. “But you think all this is stupid!” he says. She just smiles and says, “But you don’t.” Wallace knows her so well; early on, he accurately predicts, “Inside that angry young woman facade is a slightly less angry young woman that’s just dying to bake me something…you’re a marshmallow, Veronica Mars!” My point is: toughness is only useful if you use it to defend things and people you really love. Veronica loves, even though she’s been hurt so many times.

  3. i love that one, melissa! you’re right, a huge part of what makes veronica so great is that she hasn’t let all the hurt she’s experienced at such a young age prevent her from loving the people who are close to her–and expressing that love in very generous (and delicious) ways.

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