Category Archives: television

Veronica Mars

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Veronica Mars: The Complete Series. Dir. John T. Kretchmer. Writer Rob Thomas. Perf. Kristen Bell, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring. CW, 2004. Netflix.

Reader’s Annotation

High school sleuth, Veronica Mars, assists her private detective father (recently demoted town sheriff), solving mysteries for the community of their small town, but she’s also got a few mysteries of her own to solve. How did her best friend die? And why has her mother disappeared too?

Plot Summary

Veronica Mars is a classic high school teen; she’s got a hot boyfriend, is on the cheerleading squad and has the love of two amazing parents. That is until her world turns upside down and her best friend, Lily, is murdered, her sheriff father is fired from his job for incompetence, and her mother disappears in the aftermath. Someone is out to get the Mars’ and Veronica is determined to find out. With the reluctant help from her private detective father, as well as her closest friends: Wallace the basketball star, Mac the computer genius, and her unlikely comrade local motorcycle gang leader Weevil Navarro, Veronica delves deep into the history and private business of some of the most elite town members, stepping on as many toes as she can along the way. As the first season progresses Veronica uncovers evidence that may prove the man convicted of her friend’s murder innocent and finds herself getting more and more involved with the boy who held her responsible for Lily’s death.

Critical Evaluation

Veronica Mars is a spunky, witty character. At first glance she seems like a stereotypical privileged teen: she’s a blond, popular, cheerleader, with a hunky boyfriend from a wealthy family. In the aftermath of her best friends death and her father’s disgrace she becomes a school pariah and finds herself learning to live among the regular kids. Veronica doesn’t allow these setbacks to derail her two obsessions: solving Lily’s murder and finding her mother. One of the things that makes Veronica a great character is that she continuously stays true to herself. Unlike other representations of teenage girls in media and literature Veronica seldom, if ever, compromises her ideals for the sake of her love interest, or loses sight of her goals, because of a boy. In further defiance of stereotypes, Veronica’s best friend is male, and there is absolutely no romance between the two of them. Veronica Mars is a great character for young women, and one I’d like to see more of in popular culture.

Author Information

Rob Thomas is a producer, screen writer and author. He was raised largely in Texas, and graduated from University of Texas at Austin with a BA in history. He is probably best known for his 1996 novel, Rats Saw God. Thomas also co-created Party Down, another television show known for its witty dialogue.

Genre

Mystery, High School

Curriculum Ties

n/a

Reading Level/Interest Age 

16+

Challenge Issues

This television show discusses all kinds of sensitive topics that are bound to offend someone. Teenage sexuality, infidelity, gangs, underage drinking, mental illness, murder, adoption, absent parents and much much more! The library collection development policy clearly states that we follow the guidelines as laid out by the ALA Library Bill of Rights and do not suport censorship, nor are we responsible for monitoring the borrowing practices of our users, we do this to protect everyone’s privacy.

Alternate titles include Gilmore Girls and Dawson’s Creek.

Reason for inclusion

Positive female role model, excellent dialogue, compelling story line.

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Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Series. Dir. Marcos Siega. Perf. Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, and Ian Somerhalder. CW, 2009. Netflix

Reader’s Annotation

Elena Gilbert is having a hard time staying focused on the things that are supposed to matter: cheerleading, her best friends and her boyfriend. When the new kid Stephan Salvatore and his brother Damon show up her life takes a sharp turn out of ordinary and into fantastic as she uncovers the hidden past of the town, and the new boys.

Plot Summary

Vampire brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore have been trapped in their teenage bodies for 145 year, since they were “made” by their vampire lover Katherine. Elena Gilbert has been trapped in her body for 17 years, and more recently things have taken a turn for the incredibly weary. Her parents died four month previous to the show’s beginning and since then the townspeople of Mystic Falls, Virginia have been treating Elena and her younger brother with kid gloves. Elena vows at the start of the season to get her old life back, but soon finds that the things she loved before: cheerleading and gossiping with her best friends Caroline and Bonnie, don’t hold quite the same importance as they did before her parents died. To make matters worse Elena’s little brother Jeremy is getting deeper and deeper into trouble: doing drugs, abandoning all pretense of school and hanging out with some seriously bad eggs.

Elena finds solace in the mysterious new kid, Stefan Salvatore. What she doesn’t know is that Stefan came back to Mystic Falls, the place of his rebirth, to get to know Elena better, he was immediately drawn to her striking resemblance of Katherine, his maker. Despite his best efforts Stefan’s very wild and dangerous vampire brother, Damon, follows him back to town leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake. Damon blames Stefan for Katherine’s demise and has vowed to get revenge upon him by destroying everything he loves. Elena finds herself more frequently drawn to Stefan and his brash honesty, though her relationship with Damon continues. Which brother will win the fight for Elena’s heart?

Critical Evaluation

The female leads in The Vampire Diaries are pretty devoid of personality, existing only so far as they compare to the male counterpart that they’ve attached themselves too. The strongest female character in the show is Bonnie, who is of color, and I fear may be playing the role of the stereotypical “strong and/or sassy black woman”. Elena’s guardian, her aunt Jenna, has the potential to be a positive role model, but she too is quickly packed into several less than ideal relationships, giving her an air of desperation. All of that said there is something strangely compelling about the characters in this television series. It may be that the two make vampires serve purely as eye candy and the viewer keeps watching to catch another glance of Damon’s brooding stare or laugh at Stefan’s pathetic moodiness, but whatever it is it has kept the show on the air for four seasons and is a fun watch for anyone with a penchant for the supernatural.

Author Information

Julie Plec is one of the show’s main writers and producers. She is well known for her work across the horror genre, acting as an executive producer for The Vampire Diaries, a co-producer for Scream 3Cursed, and an associate producer for Scream and Teaching Mrs. Tingle. She’s also written a number of episodes for KyleXY.

Genre

Horror, Television, Vampires, High School

Curriculum Ties

n/a

Reading Level/Interest Age 

14+

Challenge Issues

This is a horror show with two vampires as main characters, it’s gory, sometimes violent and sexual, and has depictions of murder, witchcraft, underage drinking and all kinds of taboo topics. It is bound to offend someone.

A strong collection development policy can help protect the library from these kinds of challenges. We believe that if an item is being circulated, that is to say that our users are checking out the item in question that it should continued to be enjoyed by our users. We strongly oppose censorship and protect our users right to privacy, as outlined in the ALA Library Bill of Rights. Forms for reconsideration are available, and all final decisions are made by the library director after review by the board.

Reason for inclusion

This is a high circulating item at my library. I include it in this selection because it is a campy horror show that teens (and I) like. Definitely not highbrow, but enjoyable nonetheless.