In the eighth episode of the first season of Veronica Mars, GODDAMN IT, I FELL FOR SOMETHING AGAIN. WILL THIS EVER END? Probably not, let’s be real. Anyway, it’s time for Mark to watch Veronica Mars.
Sweet mother of god, I am not okay.
Trigger warning: A whole lot of talk of misogyny and bullying and slut-shaming is about to happen. You’ve been warned!
- There is a terrible and unfortunate realism to “Like a Virgin” in how this show tackles the viciousness of rumors, the way people are willing to shame people for having sex (or simply imagining that others are having sex), and how pervasive bullying can get on a grand scale. I know I project a lot on fictional characters. IT IS KIND OF MY THING. But I know very intimately how cruel one’s peers can be, and so it’s not hard for me to really enjoy the messages that Veronica gives people like Mac and Meg throughout this episode.
- Without going into the whole tortured affair, I was bullied for nearly ten years in high school, and the vast majority of it was because I was perceived as being gay. Nevermind that these assholes were right; I didn’t even have sex with a man until the month before I went to college. That’s why I brought up the fact that many of the students of Neptune High imagine sexual activity and then shame people for something that never even happened. That was the case with me, though obviously mine differs in the context. I was the victim of homophobia, and Veronica, Meg, and many of the women who are the focus of the purity test are victimized because of misogyny. That’s one thing this episode represents extremely well: how one-sided the slut-shaming is. The men are congratulated for the very feats that make women the “sluts.”
- So, by and large, I’m not here to lecture anyone on how misogyny works because THAT IS NOT SOMETHING I SHOULD DO. There’s only one context in which I can address slut-shaming from a personal experience, but that’s related directly to homophobia, not misogyny, so I am staying out of that.
- There is lots to talk about here, though, as this episode is incredibly layered. It’s fascinating to me that the facade of the 09ers is peeled back more by this episode, namely through Meg, who is a part of this social group but proves to be one of the most genuinely nice people in the entire show. Plus, they’re the main focal point of the purity test drama. Granted, the test spreads to most of the school, but the 09ers still remain at the center. Hell, the exploitation of it was because of the people in that group.
- At the same time, this episode is about reputation and respectability and how those two concepts can easily get tangled up in a whole lot of toxic, damaging behavior. All of the subplots in “Like a Virgin” deal with this! Veronica struggles with the rumors that surround her outside of the fake purity test. Keith deals with the fact that Wallace’s mother, Alicia, is pretty doubtful about his capacity for kindness. And even the Abel Koontz plot addresses this! But I’ll save that for the end. Along with my tears.
- It’s neat, then, that we get to meet at least two people in this episode who choose to ignore the rumors that surround Veronica Mars. From the get-go, Meg defends Veronica to the other 09ers, and Mac doesn’t hesitate to help Veronica, either. (Which is important for one of the things Meg says at the end of the episode.)
- I just need to take a goddamn fucking moment to memorialize this exact bullet point as the moment my followers on Twitter alerted me to the following things: Kristen Bell crying. Kristen Bell crying over sloths. KRISTEN BELL LOVING SLOTS MORE THAN I LOVE SLOTHS, WHICH I DID NOT KNOW WAS POSSIBLE.
- Okay, back to the review, I swear. This show is very modern! Like, I had this moment where I realized that there are probably plenty of high schools who have email servers for their students, and that this is how the school communicates with its student body, and it could be how homework is assigned and turned in and WOW I FEEL SO OLD. And it’s not like I’m unable to be tech savvy. Look what I do for a living! But when I was in journalism, we had to format the paper by hand and send it to a printing press on those… thingies. Now I can’t remember what they’re called. My memory is slowly fading.
- And I like that the show is modern in a way that’s not… hmmm. Condescending? Sure, but that’s not quite what I mean. WAIT. I KNOW. It’s not like Bella using her favorite search engine. It feels fairly real and believable! Plus, it fits into the story better this way, you know? This wouldn’t work otherwise because it’s about how certain people exploited the anonymity of the Internet to harm others.
- Amidst this, though, is the painfully awkward and horrifying tenant that Alicia has to deal with. The guy is a scumbag, plain and simple, and he’s a creepy one to boot. I mean, I gotta say that the Neptune Police Department really, really, really sucks? At the very least, they could have gotten Jeremy for breaking and entering??? Why are they making Alicia go through an eviction when HE BROKE INTO HER HOUSE MULTIPLE TIMES. And initially, I wondered if this was kind of shitty writing because it didn’t make sense to me, but I thought back to what little we’d seen of the NPD. This is kind of their thing, isn’t it? They’ve clearly got the Lilly Kane murder wrong, since Koontz is not the one who killed her. Sheriff Lamb is not exactly the most unbiased tool in the shed. (He’s also a jerk who I rationally hate.) I think this is all deliberately done as a way to highlight Keith Mars’s value to the community, to show us that Neptune was wrong to persecute him the way they have.
- I don’t know that Neptune is all that different from a lot of cities, either. We know that this town turned against Keith and, by extension, Veronica, so it makes sense that the town would be quick to judge others. I mean, people are so mean to Meg in this episode, and no one aside from Veronica ever offers Meg any support!
- I was glad, though, that the writers didn’t make Alicia seem like the others in town. She’s new to Neptune, and while she does judge Keith Mars based on what others have said, she’s trying to protect her family. It doesn’t help that she’s also dealing with Jeremy being the worst tenant ever, but I think Keith recognized that he had to prove himself in some way. Well, actually, I think he might have been inspired by Veronica telling him to overstep his boundaries, but that’s all left unsaid.
- Perhaps it’s Wallace who inspires Keith, though. He sees how upset Wallace is that evening after Jeremy leaves the gas on. (I’M SORRY, ISN’T THAT LIKE… ATTEMPTED MURDER? OR SOMETHING????) And really, Keith is a loyal guy, and I love the idea of him taking care of the people around him.
- BY FRIGHTENING JEREMY OUT OF HIS APARTMENT. ENRICO COLANTONI, YOU ARE AMAZING. Who saw that coming??? I LOVE IT.
- Okay, I feel like I should elaborate on something I spoke of during the whole segment where Veronica and Mac realize someone is signed into her email the very second she tries to sign in to it. Seriously, I have had to do a lot of INTERNET SLEUTHING in the past decade while being a community manager. Oh my god, one day I hope one of my mods tells the story of unmasking the DISNEY VILLAINS sockpuppet, because it was a work of art. PUT THAT SHIT IN A MUSEUM. So yeah, I’m particularly tickled by the fact that I now have something in common with Veronica Mars. SHUSH, I DON’T CARE THAT SHE’S FICTIONAL.
- So! Let’s talk about how this ends, as I’m very interested in a few things. First of all, Veronica finds a way to get even for Meg, and LORD, it is brutal. But it’s a brilliant way to expose the real culprits behind the two fake purity test results because neither Kimmy nor Pam can escape from the truth. And Meg is extremely thankful for Veronica’s actions, but she tells Veronica two interesting things: that she should re-think getting revenge and that she does have friends. I know that the latter is true because we’ve seen those friends. Wallace, for one. Now Mac and Meg consider themselves friends. I think you could suggest that Weevil is a friend, too. (MORE WEEVIL, PLEASE.) Plus, Duncan and Veronica have an awkwardly friendly conversation here, too. So maybe all hope isn’t lost for the Mars family, at least not yet. But was Meg’s advice an unintentional warning of sorts?
- I’m a little weirded out by the fact that Mac totally gets a pass, but only a little bit. I don’t necessarily feel bad when I think about her exploiting the 09ers, but I’m a little hazy on the details. Did people who took the test know that anyone could buy their results? Or did Mac just violate their privacy? I have no idea.
- Yeah. So. The ending. The Abel/Veronica scene is haunting, and these actors just work so well together. It’s creepy at first because Abel’s interest in “Ellen” seems so gross and predatory, but once he reveals that he knew the whole time that she was Veronica, THIS SKYROCKETS INTO NOT OKAY
- I DIDN’T GET THAT MOMENT IN THE LAST EPISODE
- I WAS SO CONFUSED BY “THE GIRL NEXT DOOR” AND NOW I GET IT
- oh my god, that moment where Veronica zones out wasn’t about Sarah at all. NO NO NO NO NO. A MAN HAS TO BE COMMITTED TO A WOMAN TO RAISE ANOTHER MAN’S CHILD. KEITH MARS WAS TALKING ABOUT HIMSELF
- WHAT THE FUCK
- He knows? Does he know??? I couldn’t tell! I DON’T KNOW
- WAIT A FUCKING SECOND
- THAT MEANS DUNCAN AND VERONICA ARE HALF-SIBLINGS
- HOLY INCEST WHAT DID THIS SHOW JUST BECOME
- H E L P
- (PS: Still should be illegal for Kristen Bell to cry over anything other than slots. Oh my god, what an incredible actress. She broke my heart in that final scene.)
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