Veronica Mars
The Second Rob Thomas Interview

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"The Word 'Coma' Bugs The Hell Out Of Me"
RT: Oh, they've treated us great. In fact, Gillian Flynn [the EW reviewer in question -- CB] has put us on their Top Ten list in the past. CB: Right. So that must have been very disquieting. RT: It was. It really bummed me out. CB: So, talking about the serial-rape arc: when you thought about it, I'd guess you were aware that it was a potential minefield. How did you weigh the pros and cons of doing that arc? RT: Well, I suppose there's part of me that doesn't quite understand where the line is between sending seven kids off a cliff in a bus and, you know, a serial rapist who drugs his victims and doesn't, say beat up women -- why one is okay fodder for television and one's not. You know, I don't actually think it's the serial rapes -- I think we've taken the most heat for how people perceive the Lilith House women. CB: Well, that's my next question, so let's talk about that. Some people think that the depiction suggested that you see women negatively -- as shrill and humorless, among other things. RT: You know, I'm remarkably defensive about this -- it gets under my skin like no other criticism. I'm the person who created Veronica. Veronica's far from perfect, but find me a better feminist role model on television, particularly for adolescent girls. I mean, it's sort of a theory I have on writing television -- to use the audience's television expectations against them. In other words, the way I set up a surprise that works is to think about the way that television treats its viewers that we are accustomed to. If you see the person doing A here, then he can't do B later. What would be a good example... CB: Well, I can think of one, only because I remember commenting on it in my recap -- in "The Girl Next Door," where you have the missing girl's boyfriend, and he's seen outside smoking. On TV, smoking is evil, so you're led to think he did it when he didn't. RT: I mean...that is a great example. There are larger examples -- it's almost like whatever cliché you've seen, whether it's the limp that's going to disappear, the indicator that makes the audience say, "Aha! I know this storyline, I've seen this storyline," and then [you want] to trip them up based on expectations. It's...in that sense, the idea that Claire would fake a rape, it's something that feminists...it's a protected group, like, despite what Gillian Flynn wrote about frat boys in that review, I don't really believe anyone is really upset about our depiction of frat boys. Certainly no one was up in arms over our depiction of the 09ers. I never heard comments like, "Are we supposed to believe all rich white kids are like this?" If rich kids are depicted [in a way that's] less than savory, that's one thing, but to have someone who has a lefty political bent, that's someone who's typically protected, and it trips the audience up, and I was going for that. My politics are certainly pretty far left, but I don't have sacred cows. No one comes off clean on the other side of a noir universe. I really believed, and apparently believed wrongly for a number of people, that I had enough of a feminist cachet in my lead character and in the whole foundation of the series. And I actually don't dislike those women; certainly I think what Claire did in faking the rape is wrong -- in fact, incredibly wrong -- but it certainly gives Veronica that opportunity to say "You're wrong, and you know you're wrong." Veronica's the voice of the show. And I also really like the backstory of the Lilith House women, this girl who gets hazed in a rush and walks off the roof of the sorority house, and her friends are out for revenge. It feels like an action that Veronica might take: Veronica clearly wouldn't fake a rape, but she would go blindly in seeking justice.

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Veronica Mars

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