Described as a neo-noir tribute to detective novels and beloved by fans ever since it first aired in 2004, Veronica Mars follows the story of a quick-witted private investigator who still happens to be in High School. Articulating every key moment in the series, her narration clarifies events as they happen, building up a multi-layered narrative that centers around a girl who had the perfect life, but lost it all.
Through Kristen Bell’s voice-over, the audience sees and experiences the world as she does, following her through each and every mystery as she gets closer and closer to uncovering the truth behind who murdered her best friend – all the while dealing with darker subject matter that highlights some of the unspoken realities of being a teenage girl.
The Narration is Like a Diary
Within the first three minutes of the pilot episode, the audience is up-to-date on everything they need to know about the series and where the plot is headed. Bell’s voice-over is like an unabridged diary that brings the audience up to speed with the entire story almost as quickly as it unfurls.
Like most detectives, Veronica is blunt, insightful, and to the point; she’s highly intelligent but still faces her own challenges. As a survivor of sexual abuse, Veronica harbors her own secrets and lives life as an outcast among her peers; but she’s learned to embrace it. She’s honest with the audience, but still hides things from those closest to her and uses voiceover monologues as the window to her inner world. Sparing the audience no expense in the revelation of every gritty little detail about her life, Veronica lets the audience know about things as they happen, and uses her narration to add context to every moment in the story that she considers crucial.
While the individual mystery of each episode is usually self-contained, the overarching plot revolves around finding out who actually murdered her best friend. Peppered throughout each episode, Veronica gives the audience more insights into how she became who she is today; why she is who she is today, and offers viewers a retrospective look at who she was, versus who she is. Just as easily as she fills us in on the exposition, plot lines, and mysteries, she shares her survivor experience and raises the viewer’s attention to the subject of date rape and what it does to a person.
Narration is Used to Unveil Dark Subject Matter
Veronica Mars isn’t just a tribute to film-noir, but a modern-day love letter to the vintage genre. It puts a thought-provoking female spin on a cut-and-dry literary style that’s often been centered around male characters. Where most detective novels and series center around a male protagonist that just goes out and solves mysteries, Veronica Mars shows us the different challenges women need to face in order to do the exact same job. Halfway through the pilot, Veronica reveals that she doesn’t have a clue how she lost her virginity, only that she accepted a drink at a party and woke up the next morning with several hours missing. That was the day she became the Veronica Mars we know as an audience. Almost 20 years after it’s premiere, the subject of sexual abuse is still difficult to address over network television, especially when it relates to teenage victims; the fact that Veronica Mars bravely managed to tackle it within 30 minutes of airing is nothing short of groundbreaking.
The Narration Explains Every Nuance
In each situation she finds herself in, Veronica explains the subtext and subtle nuances into concise digestible bits that are easy to follow – all the while staying true to her personality.
The series has so many layers that the story might be nearly impossible to tell without the use of voiceover. As the series namesake and main character, the narration and scope of Veronica Mars centers around her life and the people she encounters in it. She tells viewers about her experiences and guides us through her thought process; drip-feeding clues and elaborating on how she comes to each conclusion.
She uses her deductive reasoning and narration to highlight every aspect she thinks we should know about. As much as she clarifies the mystery and tells the audience what her thoughts are, she still gives us the room to figure it out for ourselves.
Kristen Bell’s Other Narrations
No stranger to the world of voice-over, Kristen Bell has been a narration staple in teen dramas for nearly two decades. She had roles in the Simpsons, Teen Titans, the Cat Returns and of course her role as Anna in Frozen among other animation appearances. While Veronica Mars served as her first major narration role, she later went on to become the voice of Gossip Girl. In recent years, after a long and successful career, Bell has reprised both of her titular narration roles from the early 2000s, with one being a revival of Veronica Mars, and the other an outright reboot of Gossip Girl that she was deemed essential for.
Kim Handysides is an award-winning voice artist and coach. Among her 20K+ narrations, you have heard her on Discovery, Netflix, and the major networks, in iMax, the White House and the Smithsonian.