Today kicks off Veronica Mars Week at SportsAlcohol.com. It was never our intention, but all of our feature weeks to date have been about little-seen genre films. It’s exciting to cover a movie we think will actually be good for once.
As fans of the show, we will post a variety of thoughtful, well-written pieces throughout the week. There will also be multiple posts by yours truly on the topic of shipping. Marshmallows, as fans of Veronica Mars are known, have strong opinions about who Veronica should be involved with romantically. With the characters being revived for a movie, these debates have been renewed in full on the internet. Fans have taken to social media declaring themselves #TeamPiz or (more commonly) #TeamLogan in support of their favorite paramour for Veronica. They are even selling shirts.
Absent from this debate almost entirely is Duncan Kane, Veronica’s first boyfriend. Being written out of the show in season two, there were no shirts for him (until the fans made some). This makes very little sense, as Duncan and Veronica are great together!
[From this point down, there will be a lot of SPOILERS. Consider yourself forewarned.]
They successfully dated
Veronica dated a few guys on her show and it never went too well. For most fans, her true love is Logan Echolls. Because I know other members of the SportsAlcohol.com team are tackling this in depth later in the week, I’ll just say that they broke up more than once and each time it was because of something psychotic Logan did (like refusing to drop a feud with a local biker gang).
The first person you see her date on the show (not counting flashbacks) is Troy Vandergraff. He seems nice at first, but then it turns out he has another girlfriend and is using Veronica and friends as patsys in a drug smuggling scheme. He shows up later on, seemingly reformed, but Veronica is not the type of person to forgive or forget (unless it’s Logan, who once started a bum fight ring).
In college, she has a thing with Stosh Piznarshki, but the show was cancelled shortly after they got together.
This brings us back to Duncan. They were dating sophomore year and broke up shortly before Lilly, Duncan’s sister and Veronica’s best friend, was murdered. It is later revealed that Duncan broke things off because he thought Veronica was his sister. This ends up not being true (but that didn’t stop him from getting it on with Veronica when she under the influence of GHB and unsure of her parentage. This is not as bad as it sounds, I think).
When they are apart, Duncan dates a nice girl named Meg. They break up and a while later he starts to date Veronica again. Unbeknownst to the two, Meg is, at this point, pregnant by Duncan. After Meg has the baby and passes away (long story), Veronica helps Duncan smuggle his daughter out of the country, free from the interference of his manipulative parents and Meg’s abusive, bible-thumping father.
I know this sounds like a lot of exposition, but let’s take a moment to contrast Duncan from her other boyfriends. The biggest difference I see is that it’s not Duncan’s fault they broke up! Each time, he was trying to do the right thing. Assuming nothing else got in their way, they could be happy.
Sometimes boring is good
I know tension is important to good stories, but characters who seek out drama in all aspects of their life are not believable. When Veronica was dating Logan, she would go from working on mysteries to come home and fight with him. When she was with Duncan, she would go from working on mysteries to come home and watch The Big Lebowski with him on the couch. They just loved The Big Lebowski on that show.
Not everything has to be dramatic all the time. Even when Duncan has somebody murdered (to protect Veronica), he just asks somebody to do it for him. When he is notified that it’s done, he’s just chilling on the beach with his daugther. Even when it comes to murder, this guy is Nick Lachey. And that’s OK! You don’t have to have your foot on the gas pedal all the time.
Let Veronica’s star shine!
A lot of critics and fans have praised Veronica Mars as the spiritual descendant of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Another contemporary that just missed the mark in this respect was J.J. Abram’s fun but flawed spy drama Alias. Jennifer Garner played Sydney Bristow, a super double (or triple, depending on how you count it) agent who uses some excellent wigs and high kicks to get both revenge and Renaissance-era artifacts of near-mystical power.
Alias reminds me of Saturday Night Live in the sense that fans always love to argue about when the show jumped the shark, with style points going to who could make a case for the earliest point in time. For Alias, I’ve heard everything from the fifth and last season (when the show hastily introduced a number of new characters in an effort to write around Garner’s pregnancy) to the middle of the first (when, realizing that it was 2003 and people couldn’t binge watch the series on Netflix because that wasn’t a thing yet, they resorted to a clip show to explain the show’s complicated continuity for anyone who had missed an episode). For me it was when Vaughn started going on missions.
Michael Vaughn was Sydney’s CIA handler and love interest. One of the cool things about Alias early on was that superspy Sydney was surrounded by men who didn’t have a fraction of her talents. Bristow did have a male field partner, but Vaughn and Syd’s reporter friend Will Tippin (played by a pre-fame Bradley Cooper) were practically male damsels in distress. Vaughn wasn’t even a field agent. Instead of going all the way of subverting that sexist trope, Vaughn starts going on missions. Will even joins the CIA as analyst for a little bit. In Alias’ never ending effort to simplify things, they made Sydney less special.
This is an overlong way of saying let Veronica be the hero, pure and on her own. You don’t have to deny her a love life, but you also don’t have to give her a love interest that pulls focus. A guy like Logan is always going to be a part of Veronica’s cases, whether she’s working to clear his name or his punch-first method of protecting her is getting in her way (which both happened, because Logan is the worst).
Duncan worked with Veronica on one case (trying to uncover who was abusing Meg’s sister) and he was bad at it. The rest of the time they’re dating on the show, he’s just hanging out on the couch with Veronica, while she says awesome things to him like: “You’re here for your looks. Why don’t you leave the heavy thinking to me, sugarpants? Now go make yourself pretty.”
Veronica may have been kidding, but I think it sums up their relationship nicely. He makes himself pretty. The real star of the show does the real thinking.
A lifetime of adventure
What I see as the two biggest complaints with this pairing cancel each other out. While I don’t think it’s an issue, I get the sense that fans prefer Logan because a Duncan/Veronica relationship is comparatively drama-free. Possibly the larger issue is that Duncan was written out of the show in a way that would effectively keep him out of Veronica’s life without killing him off.
But you know what’s not boring? Veronica leaves her life behind to go on the lam with Duncan and his bastard child. Besides her dad, there’s not much tying her to the USA. One wonders how Duncan survived this long without her help.
Veronica Mars: International Woman of Mystery. Her sidekicks are Duncan, a nice but simple man on the run and Lilly, a precocious pre-teen who reminds her of her dead best friend in more ways than one. Who wouldn’t watch that?
Special thanks to http://fuckyeahduncanandveronica.tumblr.com/ for some of the images in this post.
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