Please give a hearty cheers to Elizabeth R. as she takes the Smarty Pants stage! Her favorite cocktail is a virgin mojito (she's underage, y'all!), and she once spent an entire week pretending to be Kit Kittredge from the American Girl series. Elizabeth is about to blow our collective mind by proving that Veronica Mars is totally a reincarnation of Pride & Prejudice. WHAT WHAT!
Dean: I saw you talking to that guy. What did you talk about?
Veronica: Jane Austen. But he dissed Pride and Prejudice, so I had to throw a beer on him.
(Veronica Mars, "The Rapes of Graff")
At first glance, Veronica Mars and Pride and Prejudice have little in common. I was immediately drawn to the former's snarky, blonde heroine, a girl whose detective skills never failed to impress. Veronica Mars, with its perfect blend of mystery and drama, quickly became a much-watched and much-quoted favorite. The same cannot be said for Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen's most beloved classic far from entranced me the first time around, likely because the "me" in question was way too young to comprehend the social nuances---let alone the jokes about those social nuances---in the novel. But eventually, by way of some intensive literary analysis in English 11, Pride and Prejudice too joined the ranks of my favorite books and TV series.
It was around that time that I had the Epiphany. Sure, Pride and Prejudice is free of murder, Veronica Mars free of pesky entailments. Sure, they take place on opposite sides of the pond, about two hundred years apart. But Veronica Mars and Elizabeth Bennet are the sort of spunky and strong characters who invite comparisons---so compare I did. And to my surprise, the mirror images didn't stop with them.
So let's just ignore the fact that Rob Thomas has never ever, to my knowledge, named Pride and Prejudice as an influence. Just pretend, for my sake, that the multitude of mind-bendy connections makes sense outside of my head. I mean, you'll get a list out of it---and I don't know about you, but I really like lists.
EVIDENCE THAT THE CHARACTERS OF VERONICA MARS ARE REINCARNATIONS OF THE CHARACTERS OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE DESPITE THE FACT THAT NONE OF THEM ARE REAL
Let's start from the top, shall we?
OMG, guys---where to begin? Here we have two strong and independent young women who, while good-hearted, can be a liiiittle stubborn and argumentative at times. They are fiercely loyal to their families. Elizabeth is quick to call out Mr. Darcy when he insults her family's abrasiveness, just as Veronica sides with her parents after her father has been ostracized.
But the similarities can be negative. Elizabeth has every right to be upset with Mr. Darcy after he insults her at the Meryton Assembly. But judging him at every turn and believing a version of his past as told by Mr. Wickham, a man she knows no better? As V would say, "Be cool, Sodapop". But Veronica isn't immune to the strong-mindedness bug either. Remember when she saw the camera in the Echolls pool house and ran away, certain that Logan had hidden it? Remember when she went after the Hearst rapist---all alone?
Nevertheless, these girls ultimately come out on top. They are both intelligent and willing to take the hard road even if it means economic and social instability.
Yeah... so I'm not about to argue that Jane Bennet and Lilly Kane are two peas in a literary pod. Lilly would likely scoff at Jane's quiet, reserved nature---in fact, Lilly's temperament most nearly resembles that of Lydia Bennet, the promiscuous younger sister of Elizabeth. But Jane and Lilly actually serve the same purpose in their respective tales---they are the catalysts.
If not for Jane's involvement with Mr. Bingley, Elizabeth's interactions with Mr. Darcy, Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, and the like would have been limited to one-time meetings or vague awareness. It is Jane's romance that pulls Elizabeth into high society and forces her to interact with the 09ers of the 19th century. The same can be said for Lilly's purpose, although her role is far less pleasant---she dies. Sure, Veronica had been rubbing shoulders with the upper crust before Lilly's death, but her outsider status with the 09ers, bestowed only after the murder, sets up many of season 1's conflicts. It is Jane and Lilly, Jane as the righteous and angelic sister and Lilly as the idealized, literal angel, that set up the heroines' storylines.
The Love Interests
(Take a minute to stare at the amazingness. You good? Ok, moving on.)
Oh, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Logan Echolls---the fabulously wealthy and tortured duo that set the heroines' hearts a-flutter. Or do they? Well, not at first. Elizabeth is quick to reject Darcy and takes every opportunity to wittily insult him later on. Veronica's relationship with Logan is more directly antagonistic---think smashing car headlights and planting bongs in lockers. And then come the turning points. We have Mr. Darcy slowly revealing that his highest act of douchebaggery---separating Jane from Bingley---stemmed from a misguided desire to protect his friend from heartbreak. And Logan... well, Logan actually partakes in pure douchebaggery early on. But then, he has a major change of heart when saving Veronica from a crazy "student" (ok, undercover cop).
As final markers of their awesome nature, Mr. Darcy makes sure Mr. Wickham marries Lydia, stifling a scandal that would have ruined the Bennet family name. Logan, in his crowning moment, takes a baseball bat to a police car to get thrown in jail to beat up Veronica's attempted rapist. Neither is with their heroine at the time---that's just how they roll.
The Other Love Interests
Hold up. Slow down there, all you Veronica/Duncan shippers (all seven of you). I am not suggesting that sweet Duncan is the conniving, smooth-talking Mr. Wickham---not exactly. But our heroines are initially taken with them only to fall out of love due to their baggage. When Mr. Wickham's duplicitous nature is revealed, Elizabeth drops him like a hot potato. Duncan does the running in Veronica Mars, fleeing the country with his dead ex-girlfriend's baby, thereby terminating his relationship with Veronica. These actions leave Elizabeth and Veronica free to pursue their main love interests.
There's also the matter of how Duncan's charismatic presidential campaign stands in sharp contrast to his psychotic episodes, much like Mr. Wickham's "tragic past" ends up being a cover for his gambling problems. Furthermore, neither of the girls these two do end up with---Lydia and Meg---find happiness. Duncan may not be malicious, but unfortunately, the comparison is there.
No question about it---Elizabeth and Veronica are their fathers' daughters. In one instance, we have Mr. Bennet of the biting comebacks. There's no question where Elizabeth got that witty streak. Mr. Bennet is quick to assert that her happiness is more important than a "good" marriage to pompous Mr. Collins and reaffirms this principle when she approaches him about marrying Mr. Darcy. Keith Mars, however, holds his own by way of a unique sort of tutelage---Veronica knows all the tricks of the P.I. trade. And when Aaron Echolls locks Veronica in a refrigerator in the season 1 finale---Mr. Mars to the rescue! He's equally protective of her when it comes to boyfriends (even Leo the cop).
But these fathers are not without a fault---yes, a fault, because they really share it. I hate to insult such a fine pair... but both are at times, downright negligent. Mr. Bennet's distaste for society's rules is not merely a quirk---it detrimentally affects the entire family's standings. He does very little to reign in the wayward members of the Bennet clan, and that nearly leads to their downfall. Mr. Mars too suffers from this. By allowing his daughter to work and sleuth without any real supervision, he exposes her to all sorts of unsavory characters. It's not like V would have thought the world was a unicornicopia of happiness it she didn't have her job, but the excessive freedom can't help.
So there you have it---the tip of the iceberg analyzed. Yes, I said "tip"---My brain wouldn't stop there. The more minor characters have their counterparts as well. Mrs. Bennet and Lianne Mars' downfalls are their obsessions with status. Think of poor Deputy Leo and Mr. Collins---both nice and utterly boring guys, doomed to loose Liz and V. Think of Weevil Navarro and Mr. Gardiner's surprising chivalrous natures, which exist in contrast to their lower social standings. Weevil's unexpected detention friendship with Logan even mirrors Mr. Gardiner's little fishing outing with Mr. Darcy.
And Madison Sinclair is so Caroline Bingley.