Despite being too young to have caught it on-air, I would consider myself a die-hard "Veronica Mars" fan. I first watched the show my junior year of high school during its stint on the short-lived Go90 and fell in love with the show's snark and sincerity. I binged all three seasons, watched the movie, even found clips from the unaired pilot for a fourth season — I was a true Marshmallow, as fans call themselves. So I was understandably excited when I heard the show was being picked up for a Hulu revival. Finally, the world would see the beauty of this cult teen drama, and it would come at just the right time — when we needed to see a strong young woman overcome her trauma to fight for justice. But not only did season 4 not deliver on that hope, it incinerated it. Now, I am a Burnt Marshmallow searching for solace, and here's why.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers! If you haven't finished season 4 of "Veronica Mars," don't keep reading — and, may I suggest, don't keep watching, either.
This is a whole new Veronica, and one I didn’t sign up for.
A Veronica who relies on drugs and alcohol to numb her pain. Who is elitist, entitled, and, honestly, somewhat racist. Who pushes people away, only cares about herself, and refuses to move forward with her life or her relationships. Who sneers at therapy and emotional growth while burying herself in work and throwing herself into the line of fire. When Kristen Bell said she wanted her daughters to grow up in a world with Veronica in it, is this the Veronica she meant? After building a life and a brand around issues like mental health, gender roles, healthy relationships, and substance abuse, I find that nearly impossible to believe.
We were robbed of Logan Mars.
The only character in this season with any growth was Logan Echolls, and, according to creator Rob Thomas, that's precisely why he had to go. Not only is that a terrible reason to kill a beloved character, it dashes any chance of seeing a healthy relationship between two people strong enough to carry each other's burdens. I thought their love story was epic — spanning years and continents, lives ruined, bloodshed — but it was really just a way to bait fans into watching a new season they would otherwise have no interest in. And don't even get me started on how toxic their relationship was this season. Even if Logan had survived the wrath of Rob Thomas, it seems unlikely he would find the happiness he deserved in a marriage where he is unappreciated and misunderstood. By no means was he a perfect character, but that's what made him so fascinating. In this season, he was reduced to a boring plot device with almost none of his signature wit to be found. Veronica only gave him the time of day when he mirrored her all-consuming rage (case in point, that excruciating cabinet door scene); otherwise, he and Pony had roughly equal significance in her life.
It sends a dangerous message about trauma.
Season 4 almost did this right, showing a stark contrast between Logan and Veronica's approaches to dealing with their painful childhoods. And, had they allowed the relationship to continue moving forward, Veronica just might have gotten to a healthier place, showing that no amount of destruction could crush her spirit. Instead, we saw all her progress be reset in one critical moment, then watched as a shell of a woman drove away from her problems. Strength without vulnerability is neither interesting nor healthy, and Thomas has made it explicitly clear that he puts no value in vulnerability. If Veronica isn't low and broken, he wants nothing to do with her. Well, I want nothing to do with that narrative.
Let’s be honest, it was never really noir.
Fans showed up for witty banter and honest conversations about privilege, not Neptune: the tenth circle of Hell. Thomas really missed his target audience with this season — and I'm not so sure that was an accident. He has clearly always dreamt of a gritty, feral "Veronica Mars" that no network would allow him, until now. Hulu gave him the greenlight for more sex, more violence, more substance abuse, and more death (though, ironically, there seems to still be a quota on language, which was "cussing" amusing to watch). He got what he wanted all along, but it's not what the audience was expecting. Pretending this is where the show was always heading is a disservice to the beloved fans who continued to give this show life after death. (Hey, maybe there's hope for Logan, after all.)
I wish I could say there was some good in all this, that season 4 delivered on at least some minute level, but I can't. I am thoroughly disappointed that what could have been a great update to a beautiful tale of love, loss, friendship, and heroism was reduced to a cheap whodunnit and a poorly-written end to a nuanced character. I expected more. Fans deserved better.
I'll leave you with this succinct sentiment from miss Mars herself: