Thursday, November 20, 2014

My new favorite sleuth

When I was a kid, Nancy Drew was my favorite sleuth, if not my hero. I’m not unique in that. Scratch many female mystery readers and writers, and you’re likely to find it was Nancy who led them into their lives of crime.

I know Nancy Drew inspired a lot of us. But she was more than inspirational for me. I wasn’t being raised in a household that believed in independent women. Though others were caught up in the women’s movement, in my family, we were enshrining the beliefs of an earlier century. I was always told that women were supposed to be submissive to men, that we should hide our intelligence and capabilities or it would threaten them. Even then I wondered why we should want men who folded that easily, but as a little girl I feared I might be alone in that belief.

If my parents had read the books they were buying, they would have banned her from our house as a subversive. Because they didn’t, I was able to cling to another view of life. For me Nancy’s self-confidence and deductive savvy weren’t merely inspiring, they were like water in the desert to someone dying of intellectual thirst.

I’ve been grateful to her shining example all these years because she helped me to become the woman I am today.

Lately I’ve added another hero to the female sleuths who so effectively kick ass. I’ve started watching Veronica Mars.

Yeah, yeah, I know this was a show from, not merely years, by nearly a decade ago. What can I say? I don’t have much time for TV, and I’ve missed loads of good shows. In the spirit of full honesty, though, I must confess that I did know about Veronica Mars when it was on. Most mystery folks watched it then, and many of them raved about it.

I gave it a try once, but its teenaged protagonist meant it contained two elements that tend to drive me away from movies and TV: I hate it when what we’re supposed to accept as smart aleck teens characters who are actually played by actors zeroing in on thirty — I always believe that makes they unbelievably savvy about life, and I often find I can’t sustain that much disbelief, and, teen shows invariably mean we have to watch commercials for zit products.

But recently, on a stormy Sunday when there was nothing else to watch, I gave it another try, this time catching the pilot. Boy, was I wrong! Oh, sure, the actors are too old to their parts to my mind, but it has so much else going for it, I’ve found I can overlook that.

I didn’t know that Veronica believed herself to be raped in the first episode. What a bold story choice. And since Veronica keeps her ugly secret close, and moves forward so courageously, that makes me admire her even more. She’s as confident and smart as Nancy Drew, only she’s working in a tougher world. I also didn’t know that it makes such a statement on the haves versus the have-nots, which is even truer today than when the show was made.

I love discovering what you most of you must have known years ago, but I’m finding it as fresh and engaging now as when it was created.

I’m not sorry I didn’t see all these episodes before, however. Because now, thanks to Pivot TV running all the episodes, I can create my own Veronica Mars marathons. And thanks to my DVR, I can skip the zit commercials.

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