Television Review: Veronica Mars Season One

I first watched Veronica Mars so long ago, Denisa and I had to have it on mute most of the time, because we were living in a one bedroom apartment, and Tomas was a baby sleeping in our living room. So it’s been a while. We really enjoyed it back in the day, but I wasn’t sure how well a teenage detective show would stand up twenty years later. To make matters even more interesting, Denisa and I watched it this time around with Daniela. Honestly, I thought there was a fairly high chance we wouldn’t make it past the first three episodes.

Instead, we’ve all looked forward to watching an episode almost every night. The show was remarkably strong on many different levels, and I strongly recommend it.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s basically a neo-noir detective show starring Kirsten Bell in her first big role. As a middle-class upperclassman at a high school packed with rich kids, she’s the girlfriend of one of them and the best friend of another. But then her best friend is murdered, her boyfriend dumps her, her father (the local sheriff) is ousted from her job, and all of her friends completely shun her. Her father starts a private detective business, and she throws herself into the role of his assistant.

It turns out she’s pretty dang good at it.

The first season traces the larger plot of “Who killed Veronica’s best friend,” and then shuffles in a series of mystery of the week plots to keep things moving forward. Layered on top of that are a bunch of interpersonal high school drama plot lines like boyfriends, annoying teachers, stolen mascots, and a whole slew of others. And the show manages to be interesting on just about every single level.

It helps that Kirsten Bell is a natural lead. She does a phenomenal acting job, and she’s supported by a strong cast across the board. It also helps that the writing is top notch. It’s funny, heartbreaking at times, and infuriating at others. It moves along at a fast clip, and the weekly mysteries are varied enough to keep things interesting, and the big mystery offers plenty of twists and turns as well.

It also really helps that the high school dynamics still feel spot on. Perhaps some of this is because our local high school is so much different and smaller than the one Veronica attends, but I think a larger part is that the emotions and actions of teenagers haven’t necessarily changed all that much. Daniela really connected with the characters, though we all agreed that it’s doubtful there’s really a high school where kids are as almost universally awful as at her high school. (I hope there’s not, at least. The popular kids at Veronica’s school are completely and utterly horrible to everyone, including each other.)

In any case, it was a great watch. If you haven’t seen it for a while, it’s worth a second round. If you’ve never seen it, then you’re missing out. 9.5/10, and streaming on Hulu.

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