2 October 2016
NB. I wrote this blog post a good few months ago during Ramadan. It’ll give you a good idea of just how much free time I had…
I have nothing but respect (with a side of bewilderment) for anyone who fasts during Ramadan. In 40-degree heat, that takes some serious commitment.
For everyone else though, Dubai at this time isn’t the most exciting place to be. Its usual buzzing atmosphere feels muffled, friends leave and the rest of us are left twiddling our thumbs between Iftars – there’s only so much falafel a girl can eat (I’m joking of course… they’ll keep bringing it out if you ask nicely).
The best way to spend this newly-acquire time? Why, re-watching an excessive amount of early-00s TV series of course. Now, I’ve just finished the first series of Veronica Mars and maybe it’s the solitary confinement talking, but it might just be the finest piece of television gold ever and here’s why:
VERONICA IS A KICK-ASS FEMALE LEAD
She’s smart, brave, fiercely loyal, doesn’t care what people think and reaches a level of sarcastic talent I could only dream of. In a time of Dawson Leerys and Ryan Atwoods, just the fact that she’s a strong female lead is cool enough*, but then they went and gave her sass mouth? Amazing.
*Of course, I have to mention the legendary Buffy The Vampire Slayer. What a show! Two of its actors rock up in Veronica Mars and I like to think that gives it some sort of Buffy-style seal of approval.
THEY DON’T SEXUALISE HER
Strong female lead or not, it would have been so easy for producers to sexualise Veronica’s character. Sure, they all talk about sex – hell, there’s a whole storyline about her rape (with flashbacks). But there’s a big difference between a character’s sexuality and then sexualising that character (Feminist Frequency recently taught me that).
The show could easily have been Veronica Mars: The Californian Bikini Detective, but instead they put her in hoodies, super 90s bootcut jeans and trench coats. And why is this important? Because while Marissa Cooper was frolicking around The OC in short shorts, being a pain in the ass and getting guys killed, Veronica was on the other channel probably solving a murder or breaking a dog-napping ring wide open.
So much teen angst
THEY COVER SOME SERIOUS TOPICS…
…like really serious women-related topics. In the first series alone, the show covers rape, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, unwanted pregnancies, drink spiking, and even sex tapes being used to slut shame. The last one is most impressive. This was back when boxy flip phones were the height of sophistication and the concept of video calling required a good minute or two of explanation.
Not only does this mean that the show was brave and a little ahead of its time, but also Neptune High was a truly terrible school that would unlikely have passed Ofsted.
WOMEN CAN BE FRIENDS
It sounds silly, but strong female friendships are strangely rare on screen, (see any article about the Bechdel Test). At first Veronica spends much of the show surrounded by men, but then again, the whole first series is about her mourning Lily. One of the reasons Veronica’s surrounded by D is because she lost her female best friend and no one matches up. She even keeps Wallace at arm’s length.
Then there are her new friends Mac, a boss-ass IT whizz, and Meg, who defies the school’s social structure to befriend Veronica (granted, she goes on to fall out with Veronica over a boy and get knocked up by him, but that’s series two – stay focussed!)
MEN AND WOMEN CAN BE FRIENDS
Ignoring everything I just said about female friendships, Veronica is allowed to have platonic friendships with guys, which is awesome. Fine, she dates a lot of guys – especially for someone who’s supposed to be a social outcast – but she never dates Wallace and Weevil*.
*I’ve just realised that both those characters are basically the only male characters that aren’t white and rich… I might have stumbled across a big old can of racial worms – let’s save that for another post.
SHE’S NEVER THE DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
Okay, so this isn’t always true. In the finale she’s locked in a fire-engulfed fridge by a murderer and does require some assistance, (but she was totally owning it until then). Also, it’s not a boyfriend or love interest that saves her, it’s her dad, which is just kind of lovely isn’t it? It sort of cements the fact that while the series is about her mourning Lily, the most important relationship is actually between Veronica and dad.
I’m not saying Veronica Mars is some pinnacle of feminist media. I mean, there’s the completely out-dated US approach to alcohol and sex, which teaches the audience that anyone who partakes in either of them, especially young women, will be punished in some way – anything from becoming a social outcast to being murdered.
But for its time, its target audience, and the country it came from? It’s a pretty damn cool show, with an sassy female lead and has some encouraging messages for teen girls.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go get myself a life.