“We used to be friends a long time ago.”
These lyrics are straight from the Veronica Mars theme song, but they could also be considered the official Outside Girls’ anthem. When these women choose to leave their social situation, they often make a break with their close friends. While the song’s melancholy tone strikes the perfect chord (as breaking up with your friends is harder than breaking up with your lover), it also highlights the divide between past and present. While some Outside Girls leave their role for a change of pace, others leave after a trauma. Which brings me to this posts’s not-so-golden girl: Veronica Mars of her eponymous series:
Before discussing the nature of Veronica’s decision to walk away, I have to mention one of the underlying themes of the series: class. This outside girl’s hometown is Neptune, Calif., where “your parents are either millionaires, or your parents work for the millionaires.” Veronica is part of the latter group; her father is the town’s sheriff. Since her best friend and first boyfriend are children of the one percent, Veronica initially feels as though she fits in with the rich side of Neptune. However, when Sheriff Keith Mars goes after a well-liked millionaire for murdering his daughter (Veronica’s best friend, Lilly Kane), Veronica’s class divide is the least of her problems.
Suddenly she is shunned by her old friends, her father is fired, her mother walks out on the family, and Veronica is raped at a party. As creator Rob Thomas aptly describes, “I thought, well wouldn’t it be interesting if somebody had gotten so far down that she just didn’t give a fuck anymore, that [high school] pressure didn’t mean much to her?”
Veronica’s decision to simply not care about what her peers, community and old friends think of her anymore is actually what sets her free. Yes, her downfall from rich-and-powerful-adjacent to cynic who no longer trusts anyone is the catalyst for her outside status. But her own agency and strength is what allows her to embrace her new found knowledge and skills in order to become Neptune’s newest pint-sized P.I. In fact, Judy Fitzwater argues that Veronica is “reborn” after her personal tragedies and characterizes Veronica as “fearless, both book and street smart, and incredibly savvy, strong enough to stand on her own.” Veronica has changed and her old friends have not. She is jaded and sad, but her outside status allows her to see (and to punish) the immorality and casual cruelty that plagues those with trust funds.
Veronica Mars is famous for a lot: the critical acclaim/low ratings combo, the Logan vs. every other guy debate, Veronica’s quick wit, the Buffy comparisons, and the upcoming movie. But I think it lives as an Outside Girl text because it depicts how a girl who was kicked when she was down got back up again. Veronica did not choose for Lilly to die, for her mom to abandon her, for her father to be fired, to be raped or to be shunned by her former social circle. But she did choose to not be defeated by any of that. Veronica learns that “sooner or later, the people you love let you down.” Cynical? Yes. But it’s honest, real and is proof that Veronica embraces her isolation and turns it into her most valued trait: her sleuthing smarts. I’m sure the March 14 movie release will be further proof of that.
(Image #1 courtesy of badassdigest.com; #2 courtesy of money.cnn.com)