To Binge or Not To Binge Episode 75: ‘Veronica Mars’


Hannah Allred

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kate Button, Arts Writer, Copy Editor


This article contains mild spoilers for “Veronica Mars”


This summer, one of my friends introduced me to “Veronica Mars” — a 2000s teen drama seeped in questionable fashion choices, dramatic storylines and L.A.-inspired class conflict — and I immediately fell in love with the series. Kristen Bell stars as the titular character, and this leading role served as one of her breakout performances. “Veronica Mars” follows the daughter of the city sheriff turned private investigator (Enrico Colantoni) and Veronica’s life navigating high school while helping her father’s PI business. As the series progresses, it follows Veronica as she graduates and attends college, all while mysteries, drama and crime seem to plague her and her friends’ lives.


To Binge or Not to Binge?

During the first episode, we are introduced to one mystery that seems to perpetually arise throughout the series — the murder of Lilly Kane, Veronica’s best friend. Yet, as this element waves in between taking a backseat or taking over individual episodes, Veronica maneuvers between settling teenage squabbles and managing high stakes investigations. Each episode is centered on a different mystery or problem, but larger, more complex cases span the arc of seasons to keep audiences on their toes for an eventual resolution. 

The series originally ran from 2004-2007, following Veronica from her junior year of high school through the first year of college. After the third season, the series was canceled. Yet, in 2013, Bell and series creator Rob Thomas began a Kickstarter project to make a film in order to continue the characters’ storylines, and in 2014, the film was released by Warner Bros. Then, in 2019, a partnership with Hulu created the series’ fourth and final season.

From the sheer number of times that this series has been revisited and renewed, it is clear to see that there’s something addictive about the story and the characters. Playing Veronica, Bell’s wit and humor cut through and brighten each episode, no matter how dark they get.

Her character brands herself as an outsider, yet it’s her connections with her peers that bring humanity to the series. Mars brings the “new kid” Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III) under her wing, and he essentially becomes the Watson to her Sherlock. Veronica also frequently partners with Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra), the leader of the town’s motorcycle gang. And, at certain points in the series, Veronica recognizes her need for more advanced tech equipment — after all, it was the early 2000s — and she turns to Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie (Tina Majorino), a tech-savvy peer who eventually becomes one of Veronica’s best friends. Although Veronica faces her share of social isolation and grief for the class lines that seem to divide the fictional Neptune, California in two, her bonds that transcend these divisions foster captivating relationships and commentaries on social hierarchies.

As any teen drama would entail, “Veronica Mars” is full of classic love triangles and other relationship troubles. In her investigative work, Veronica is often tasked with determining whether spouses are cheating or committing other crimes. In her high school life, Veronica balances all of the typical stresses, from classwork to making meaningful friendships. In her time at Neptune High, some of Veronica’s love interests include Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn), Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) and Leo D’Amato (Max Greenfield). Like her peers, Veronica aims to find love and happiness, and despite some of the dramatized elements, her attempts at relationships feel real and never overdone. 

From cliffhanger mysteries to classic teenage drama, “Veronica Mars” is a highly addictive show. The series confronts real issues such as sexual assault, class conflict and violence, fraud and abuse — yet despite these darker elements, it never loses its eye for hope and the relentless search for justice. 


Best Episode

One of my favorite episodes from the series is “Ain’t No Magic Mountain High Enough,” episode 13 from the second season. Mars’ high school hosts a winter carnival to raise money for a senior class trip. Yet, as the carnival closes, it is discovered that someone has stolen all $12,000 that had been raised. Additionally, the beginning of the second season introduces a bus crash that kills several of Veronica’s classmates. After it is found that foul play was involved in the crash, tensions rise as Veronica and the sheriff’s department both work to find who was involved.

This episode features key interrogations and scenes that feature the leading suspects, as well as Veronica’s own investigations into which one of her classmates or carnival attendees could have stolen the school’s money. From the twists and turns in this episode to the overall narrative arc, “Ain’t No Magic Mountain High Enough” beautifully showcases the dual mysteries and high school dynamics that Mars navigates throughout the series. 


Similar Shows

For more teen dramas soaked in mysteries, “Pretty Little Liars,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Gossip Girl,” “Riverdale” and “The O.C.” are all similar. 


Trigger Warnings

While there are not many explicit or graphic scenes, “Veronica Mars” discusses and investigates several topics that may be triggering, including rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, murder and addiction.


“Veronica Mars”

5/5 stars

Available to stream on Hulu

4 seasons, 72 episodes, approximately 58 hours (60 if you include the movie)


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