I have a problem…It could be worse—I could drink too much (too often) or do drugs, abuse prescription meds or get a special tingle up my spine when I fillet my skin with a sewing needle—luckily it’s nothing close. Instead my vice is more mellow, in fact, perhaps too mellow, as it involves sitting in sweat pants, drinking tea with my cat and a heating pad while watching episode after episode of Veronica Mars.
“Veronica Mars?” You ask…(Well, some of you do), while others who’ve known me longer remember the sickness of years past. They remember no less than seven trips to the Capital 8 Theaters to see Titanic and a coffee table book I carried around like a security blanket. Before that there was the realization that Star Wars, if watched back to back and in order, could be all consuming. Lord of the Rings followed suit, and by the time the ring was destroyed I had dark circles under my eyes, thought Golum was strangely beautiful and had actually begun looking at the Elvish jewelry for sale listed in the back of the DVD booklet.
But the very worst of my escapist tendencies has come to light with Netflix “Watch Now” coupled with my boyfriend’s enthusiasm for having “complete” series of things stored on our hard drives (I’m awful with books too, people, if they make a sequel that’s not romancy I’ll probably like it, it’s just that books are not the same as movies. You tell a person you can’t get enough Madeline L’Engle or His Dark Materials and they pat you on the back. If you get super in to say…Victorian mysteries, they look a little bewildered, but the bottom line is the same: books are good uses of time and movies are not).
I find the mysteries—the ones that annoy people when they’re in regular syndication because you have to wait a WEEK (God, I can’t imagine) to see the end—are my favorites. It all started about eight years ago with a little show called Alias. J.J. Abrams and I met and for me, it was love at first site. I loved Agent Vaughn to bits and was literally twisted into a ball of arms, legs and energy every time he and Sydney were in the room together. When there were no more shows to watch I started reading CIA books (which are nothing like Alias and lack the West Coast appeal of the show, as logically, most are set in Virginia rather than LA. Go figure).
There are the wildcards: The OC—no mysteries there, but the lighting, the summer clothes and airy houses made it possible to get through my first New York winter, Arrested Development came into my life just when I thought I was over TV forever and suddenly I couldn’t stop thinking about hilarious lines and Tobias calling himself an “analrapist” (Analyst Therapist).
Oh…but Dexter was the real gem. I saw the sides of buses and the city benches with Michael C. Hall’s face smiling benignly. I vaguely knew what it was about (some serial killer or something?) and knew a handful of people who watched it. But me? No. I was into funny.
But Dexter IS funny—witty and sarcastic, and a bad ass and usually (despite the duct tape, plastic wrap and puncturing) a moral compass compared to those around him. He’s intelligent and attractive and Miami sure looks nice and EVERYTIME you think he’s done for he manages to out smart or sleuth the other guy, girl, etc.
On a walk on the Seal Beach pier one sunny afternoon I told Moses it was amazingly beautiful, but wished I could have a sort of Minority Report feature in my brain so that I was able to watch Dexter and live life, see beaches, etc. all at the same time. (You don’t have to tell me what’s healthy and what isn’t).
And so, once we caught up on our Dexters and it was no longer possible to watch them over and over (I even like the opening credits more than any other show), I vowed never, ever again with the dramas. I do allow myself to watch Fringe, but NOT the old ones. I’m more or less caught up and that’s that. One episode per week can tell me all I need to know about Olivia and Peter, our world and “the other” and what the hell happened to William Bell.
Comedies. Comedies were safe. I could love them, laugh at them and then, most importantly, leave them. Upon moving to New York a friend let us borrow his computer. When our internet crashed and we needed some emergency watch materials we looked to see what he had downloaded. Party Down.
As a comedy, it seemed harmless, but in fact, it was a gateway drug. Party Down, a light, happy show about a group of LA wannabe actors (writer types) earning a living doing menial catering jobs was a delight. It’s smart and has great cameos as well as an almost Arrested Development sense of unleashed humor (seriously, just joke after awesome joke). But, at two seasons it was so…short. I wanted more—just a bit.
I made the mistake of IMDBing the creator and seeing he did another show, Veronica Mars, back in 2004. Low and behold, Netflix had them ALL and at this exact moment my boyfriend took a trip back West and the weather got to it’s very crummiest and I became a junkie.
It’s not just that Veronica Mars is good (it really is). It’s more the realization it’s a combination of every show I’ve ever loved. It has the ENTIRE (seriously, it’s the BEST) cast of Party Down and the witty little jabs and hilarious exchanges I so loved. It has the good lighting from The OC and the formulaic “will they/won’t they” couple tension. Crimes and running mysteries? YOU BET. Check to Dexter and check to Alias, plus it’s got all those California references to appease my homesickness for LAisms like The PCH, day trips to Mexico and high schools with outdoor cafeterias (no, we don’t have those in the Midwest. Duh).
As my Veronica Mars era draws to a close (about four more episodes), I’ve decided to just…embrace it. Have I spent a tremendous amount of time not only watching, pondering and DEEPLY caring about this show and the fictional people in it? Sure. Am I 29 and closer to the age of the duller “parent” characters than the more interesting high school kids? Absolutely. And, if I were more motivated and less of a slouch, could I have used this time to potentially WRITE a show (maybe a season) of my OWN Veronica Mars? Yep.
But I didn’t, and I’ll tell you why: because some of us are Rob Thomas and J.J. Abrams and some are readers and watchers. The way I see it, all in all, that’s a good WEEK of total escapism. I logged a few great hours worrying about Veronica and Logan—Veronica’s safety, her high expectations, Lilly’s killer, Meg’s baby’s paternity, Mac’s virginity, Dick’s morality and Logan’s brooding eyes and consistently bad choices (and whether or not he’s a red head. Seems like he’s sorta a half red head)—either way—it might be a silly waste, but I had the time of my life.