Veronica Mars may be just a forgotten "teen show" to some, but to others it's a razor-sharp neo-noir with snappy dialogue and a penchant for justice.
Revived from the dead six years after it first ran, it raised a whopping $5.7 million on Kickstarter to fund the eponymously-titled 2014 movie that turned the gone-too-soon series into a record-breaking viral phenomenon. Mars fans (known as "marshmallows") shelled out over $2.5 million in a single day proving that fans will pay in advance for content they want. And they wanted Veronica.
For three seasons, Mars served up skin-tight noir-mysteries with gritty realness, comedic quips, and a no-BS attitude. Premiering July 26 on Hulu, Kristen Bell and creator Rob Thomas are back as Mars Investigations reopens to hunt a spring break murderer wreaking havoc in the oceanside town of Neptune. Veronica will chase down felons for eight episodes, reuniting her with old friend Wallace (Percy Daggs III), her ace of a dad (Enrico Colantoni), and everyone's favorite villain-turned-softie, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring).
Before Bell slides back behind that long-focus lens, here are five reasons why Veronica Mars is the real deal.
1. Veronica Mars delivers edge-of-your-seat mysteries
When we first met Veronica, she was a high school junior figuring out who killed her best friend, Lily Kane, all while becoming a social pariah after her father, the sheriff, pointed the finger at Lily's dad. The show sprinkled subtle clues throughout each episode and as she inched her way closer to the truth, she found herself in danger like never before. Season 2 upped the ante with a bus crash that killed several of her classmates. When she found out that she was the target of the crash, she made it her mission to find out who was responsible, putting her at odds with Irish mobsters, a biker gang, and old acquaintances with deadly vendettas. The stakes are always high in ol' Neptune, but no matter the cost, Veronica tirelessly works her cases...especially when they're personal.
2. The show is a treatise on classism and social justice
In Veronica's world, the middle class barely exists. Led by the town's uber-rich and powerful, deemed the 09ers, Neptune is swarmed with high-status townies who flaunt their privilege and break the law at the expense of poorer constituents. Some 09ers achieve their status through crimes and fraud, and watching Veronica take them down is a treat. It's a weekly dose of what would happen if our government actually helped lower classes instead of helping the rich get richer. Veronica, however, is always there to even the playing field. Veronica for president!
She was also on hand to help destroy a serial rapist at Hearst College, fighting for the rights of victims and bringing guilty parties to justice. After all, she was a victim of rape herself. The show never glosses over difficult topics, but rather deep dives into them head first using Neptune scum as a microcosm of society.
3. Keith and Veronica's father/daughter relationship is the best there is
Nothing tops the chemistry Bell has with her TV dad, Enrico Colantoni. With Veronica's alcoholic mom out of the picture (she skipped town with Veronica's college tuition fund), Keith and Veronica have lived outside of the town's social circle as outcasts from the Lily Kane aftermath. She's grown up relying on Keith, the one and only person who never left her side ("The hero is the one who stays.") and literally walked through fire for her.
Keith was there for her through her sexual abuse, bad-news boyfriends, and stood by her when his biological paternity was questioned. Watching these two lean on each other is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, hilarious and comforting. And we need more of it.
4. Bell's reunion with creator Rob Thomas
Since the show ended, Bell became a movie star ( Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and found a new home on the small screen with the incredibly brilliant and critically adored The Good Place. But to fans' delight, she's always ready for more Mars. Bell and Thomas remained in touch over the years, frequently kicking around new ideas to bring Veronica back to her Marshmallows. The movie was a great start (as were the two novels that followed), but Veronica Mars truly works best in a serialized format where the clues and mysteries can breathe. Bell and Thomas's collaboration has been the meat and potatoes of this series, and the fact that Bell is still down to revisit Neptune and taze some con men melts my marshmallow heart to fluff.
On returning, Bell said, "Ultimately, the decision came down to, 'Do I want a world where my girls grow up and Veronica Mars exists as a point of reference for them?' And I do. I want that world."
Thomas teased: "The movie was nostalgic. The Hulu limited series isn't going to be. Hardcore So-Cal noir. One big case. Eight episodes to tell the story. This is a detective show."
5. Veronica Mars. Period.
Veronica is tough as nails. She takes no shit. She makes criminals pay. She sticks up for the little guy. Despite being constantly kicked down herself, she finds a way to move forward toward the future, whatever that future may hold. She's the warrior you'd want your kids to look up to and the role model you can draw strength from. Her monologues can be dark, but they're rooted in reality and relatable to those moments where you have to dig deep to survive.
She says things like, "Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything. Creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle and then you choose. You can live in the wreckage and pretend it's still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild."
Veronica is proof that your past doesn't have to define you. Through public scandals, murdered friends, an absentee mom, date rape, social rejection, slut-shaming, and more, Veronica never wallows; she gets back up.
Veronica Mars is now available to stream on Hulu.