Spoilers for Veronica Mars, season 1.
Did I ever mention how I'm really good at retaining stories? I'm a slow reader, which is annoying in the sense of Goodreads Reading Challenges/taking AP classes/acquiring mastery of literally anything, but helpful in that I tend to remember what I read. Images from movies and television also stick with me for a long time.
Well, not always. I've found that good writing is not necessarily memorable writing.
One of my favorite books, Brideshead Revisited, is a masterpiece of British understatement. But even with the sexy Americanized film version - MATTHEW GOODE IS IN IT, FOR CHRISSAKE - I'd be hard-pressed to remember exact plot points other than "class divide." Also, feeling weird about Ben Wishaw playing his character so flamboyantly when it was only implied in the book? Maybe?? I DON'T REALLY KNOW and it's only mildly frustrating that I loved a book so much (slash was impressed with myself for reading High Literature) but can't remember exactly what happened.
On the other hand, I saw Miss March in theaters that same year and I still remember the rapper character's name. In all fairness, his name was an island of profane brilliance in a sea of boring, derivative turd-dom, so.
THAT IS TO SAY:
Memorable writing is not necessarily good writing. I do judge works on whether or not I remember them five years later, but even my favorite pieces sometimes fail in that regard.
Maybe that's why chick flicks put so much emphasis on distinctive fashion and drag queens are obsessed with creating catch phrases. Even if the story isn't strong, it will succeed if people remember ... something.
REGARDING VERONICA MARS:
I devoured it. Not in real time, but after it finished airing, when I was in college. I skipped naps to watch episodes. I ignored my Latin homework to watch episodes. I couldn't get enough of the first season. The second season was a downgrade, and by the third it was a question of putting it out of its misery. The movie Kickstarter happened. I came, I watched, I got the T-shirt. And it was ... fine.
THE THING IS: I barely remember any of it now.
I remember Mac being cool. I remember Duncan being lame. I remember Keith Mars being a surprise, because I was expecting a wet blanket like Bella's dad from Twilight. And an absentee alcoholic mother? And Schmidt from New Girl?
So the details for me are decidedly murky. There was usually a mystery of the week, in addition to a big overarching mystery that held personal significance for our precocious young detective, who got less precocious and more sad and traumatized with every passing season. Veronica Mars herself was a groundbreaking character, but the show had plenty of inspiration from predecessors like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more traditional noir mysteries. The stories were complex but not entirely original.
What I do remember, however, is how I FELT watching Veronica Mars. And I can't understate what a feat it is to have an indelible, signature emotion associated with your show. I think that's why campaigns to revive it have been so successful, first with its record breaking crowd sourcing on Kickstarter, and now with this new development on Hulu. The feelings of frustration when Veronica was undermined, the worry when she was in danger (SLASH PUT HERSELF INTO DANGER. AGAIN AND AGAIN.), getting in on the satisfaction of that smug grin when she solved a mystery or got in a decimating wisecrack.
The success of Veronica Mars lies in how it makes the audience feel. And even though the feeling I associated most with the movie follow up was "meh", it's really impressive how the creators crafted stories that truly resound with their audience.
MY FAVORITE BIT:
I cannot for the life of me remember why adult Jonathan Taylor Thomas was pretending to be a high school students with, like, nukes or something, but I can tell you I've watched that scene again and again because of what I do remember. After Logan comes to the rescue, there's a moment when Veronica comes out of the motel room and I thought she was gonna just walk by him without acknowledging how great he'd been. They weren't "allowed" to be together for some reason, maybe something to do with Duncan still being gone and Logan being kind of terrible? But I do remember thinking they should be together. And really, really wanting Veronica to say thank you to him, to open up a bit whatever had been keeping her from falling for him. I thought she was going to ignore him on her way out. But instead of doing any of that, SHE KISSED HIM. The joy I felt, the legitimate rush of endorphins, after that buildup and thinking she was going to leave without saying anything and really wanting her to, was incredible.
So yeah. Maybe I'll watch the Hulu season. We'll see.
Thoughts with Alisa
Current writing on pop culture. Also known as my post-graduate school writing motivation.