Why Veronica Mars Wins at Feminism: Part II

So I’m finished with the great Veronica Mars rewatch! It’s been a blast. I didn’t realize how much of season 3 I just hadn’t watched or how much I enjoyed the latter half.  I’m even more sad that the show didn’t continue and even more excited that in just over a month, we’ll be reunited with the gang.

And ever since I decided to start watching it with feminism on the brain, I’ve been noticing more and more how much better it is at it than that show about the cheerleader who kills the undead.

Let’s talk about gender reversal in established narrative style shall we? Because I’m a huge ass fan of criticism, when someone finds ways to stay exactly in genre while totally reinventing that genre is one of my favorite things. (Edgar Wright, Chris Nolan, I’m looking at you!) And when that reinvention also includes a gender swap, oh, how I love it even more. (Again, with the Buffy.) But turning the gender tables on noir is more tricky, and Veronica Mars completely pulls it off.

Obviously, our girl is the hardboiled cynical detective, driven by a need for higher justice and running on black coffee and sarcasm. OK, not really, I’m pretty sure that Veronica actually runs on Diet Coke but still sarcasm. Then you’ve got her trusty Guy Friday, Wallace Fennell. I’m a big old fan of Wallace and Veronica’s relationship. I love that it’s a true platonic male female relationship, if not exactly healthy since Wallace gives and gives and gives and Veronica makes him spirit cookies occasionally. But it’s a fun dynamic.

Then you’ve Logan, who is a femme fatale with different parts. My God, the brooding, the inability to avoid trouble, the using sexuality as a weapon, it’s all there. Also, don’t forget that the major shift in Veronica and Logan’s relationship came when he asked her to find his mother halfway through season 1. The Gal and Gumshoe dynamic continues throughout their relationship and Logan’s volatile outburst are the male version of the femme fatale’s manipulations. If Veronica is the puffy paint, girly girl version of the detective, than of course, her femme fatale would be a sort of instinctively violent alpha male. The dynamic makes more sense than anything.

I’m a big fan of good girl/bad boy pairings with my soap opera. I love my Blair and Chuck and my Derek and Ivy (though Derek and Ivy were both kind of ass holes…) But there is sort of a dissonance with Veronica and Logan that gets solved when you look at it through the mirror of noir and gender reversal rather than trying to make it make sense out of genre. Yes, you can point to them bonding over their grief over Lily’s death, their (perceived) abandonment by their mothers, and of course never forget the witty repartee, but that doesn’t account for their love story making sense as the main one over three seasons. Logan as femme fatale does.

Veronica-Logan-S3

The fact that really the only thing we know about Veronica Mars the movie at this point is that Logan’s been accused of killing his girlfriend and Veronica rushes to his side is even more indicative of this dynamic. It doesn’t matter how stable she is with Piz (Ugh, Piz!) or how much she wanted to leave her past behind her, she can’t resist the pull of Logan…

And really, it’s hard to sever bonds with the person who held you while your rapist jumped off a roof in front of you.

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