She’s a Marshmallow
I want to write about the new season of Veronica Mars but I don’t know how. The show, the character, the relationships are so tied up in my heart. Veronica Mars was where I put all my angst in college, where I put all my misery and uncertainty, where I retreated when I felt lost. I hated my first year of college and so my body stayed there but my brain was in Neptune, California wondering if Logan and Veronica might one day be able to get their shit together enough to love each other without the hurt.
Maybe it was Veronica’s surety I got swept away in, her decisiveness. Maybe it was that she was so mission driven. Maybe it was that she stood up for herself, followed her instincts, gave no quarter, let her anger and her fear fuel her. I want to say it doesn’t matter, but it does. I get too invested in stories, possessive and jealous and I hold them too close. Breathe them into my chest and let them live there. Not all stories. But the right ones, the ones that hit the deepest parts, poke the most private bruises. So I’m sure it matters whether it was her vengeance and her reckless or her perseverance, her secret softness. But I still don’t know.
In the new Season 4 of Veronica Mars, it’s been 15 years since we first met her. I am 12 years removed from when I first did. So imagine my surprise when it turns out that Veronica hasn’t grown that much. Maybe she’s even grown backwards, still sharp edged and oblivious and willing to smash her world to bits. Gone is the Veronica who learned that love doesn’t have to hurt, who keeps her eyes open for the people she cares about, who understands that nothing is as absolute as she’d like to be.
And of course they killed Logan for no reason. Maybe to break Veronica’s heart again. Maybe because they think, like Veronica and I used to, that misery makes you more interesting and better prepared for the vagrancies of life. Maybe because happy women are boring, and rather than letting our characters grow we just fling them back again, like Sisyphus and his boulder, endlessly rolling back down the hill. Logan had grown. Logan had found purpose and peace. Logan was working through his shit with a therapist and Logan was gonna love Veronica enough to help her do the same. But that’s not good television. Kill off the new growth and keep everything just where it is. And if you’re going to do it, do it in the last minute of your show. Do it quickly to stem the bleeding, and hope they give you a season five. Rob Thomas, ever immiserating his characters, daring us to cancel him.
If the characters you made your own, the ones that you gave space to in your heart, the ones that formed you and shaped you, haven’t grown at all in ten years, have you?
Am I still the same girl I was when I first watched Veronica, stuck and uncertain and just trying to get through it? Am I like Rory, who didn’t get exactly what she wanted from the world and so stopped trying to get anything?
Obviously I’m taking this personally. And maybe that’s not totally fair. No story can be all things to all people. But stories are personal. They are how we make sense of the world and ourselves. And what are we saying about ourselves when we keep our characters locked up in snow globes of misery, endlessly shaking up the same old plot points to let them fall in slightly different places. What are we saying about ourselves when we say growth makes for bad TV? That our characters are at their best when they are angry and hurt and lashing out? What are we building in ourselves? Perhaps we all endlessly make the same mistakes, expect the worst from ourselves and each other. Perhaps change isn’t the only constant but an elusive and ever shifting goalpost in the distance. But wouldn’t it better if it wasn’t?
This is when you tell me to let it go, that it’s just a TV show. And you’re right, I mostly have. Real life isn’t a story. It doesn’t have an arc and growth isn’t that simple. I am more and less certain than I once was. More and less stuck. I know more and I know more about what I don’t know. Some things are exactly the same. Neither Veronica nor I look like we’ve aged, but at least one of us can’t help it.
Not everything holds up. And I don’t know that now, re-watching even the first season or two of Veronica Mars now would mean as much. And as mad as I am, about senseless violence replacing good storytelling, about the lack of imagination, about the affront to me personally, I probably won’t lose sleep over this the way I once would have. For all my own uncertainty, I guess what I’ve learned is that I’ve grown enough not to need this anymore.
Still, in case anyone was wondering, the last five minutes of Veronica Mars season 4 doesn’t exist. Logan and Veronica are driving off into the sunset, well on their way to their much deserved honeymoon. And Veronica has an appointment with her own therapist when they get back.