Veronica Mars

TV review by
Marjorie Kase, Common Sense Media
Veronica Mars TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Strong female teen private eye digs into serious topics.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 24 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Themes include integrity and perseverance. The idea of standing up for the vulnerable, the poor, the bullied is prominent. The idea that wealthy people are often corrupt and can get away with things is a central idea. Issues of race and class are integral to the show's premise, and marginalized characters are humanized. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Veronica is strong, independent, has a great relationship with her dad, and makes it a priority to stand up for the little people. But she often gets carried away in her quest to punish wrongdoers by lying, cheating, and/or breaking the law to get to the truth. Side characters are complex, too, particularly when viewed through the lens of the show's long history: Logan is transformed over the years from a spoiled rich kid to Veronica's loyal ally, while Dick is a longtime villain who has some moments of kindness and relatability. 

Violence

A main character is victimized by partygoers, including other main characters, who give her GHB, rape her, and cheer on her rapists, then later deny their participation. The rape is handled sensitively and the trauma from the event given proper gravity and respect. An early storyline revolves around the mysterious death of a teen. After the show's move to Hulu, the violence ratchets up a level, with shocking imagery like a brief visual of a decapitated head. Characters we've gotten to know are killed suddenly, though the show generally doesn't linger over blood and gore. 

Sex

Early seasons on network television has frank sexual innuendo and images of teenagers making out in cars. Later seasons, particularly season 4 on Hulu, has stronger sexual content, including scenes in which characters have remove their clothing (nudity is confined to a brief glimpse of a man's bare backside), and have sex with rhythmic motions and moaning as the camera focuses on imagery like intertwined hands. Mature jokes focus on sex: a woman reminisces about giving her ex "head in the shower," a couple jokes about trading a "hand job" for a chore. 

Language

Early seasons on UPN contain infrequent profanity -- "ass," "hell," etc. On Hulu, the language matures: "s--t," "bulls--t," "assh--e." Two characters have a bet on who can go longest without dropping an "F-bomb" and replace the word with "cuss." Writers like to play with profane language, with characters calling each other things like "c--k waffle." 

Consumerism

Macintosh products are featured prominently in early seasons; in later ones, brands are mentioned as markers of wealth: the Nest thermostat and the Echo smart speaker. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Early seasons show flashback scenes with teens drinking without consequences. Drug use is treated with negative consequences. A main character is unknowingly given GHB, which sets a major plotline about sexual violence into motion; other drugs, such as tranquilizer and "date rape" drug Rohypnol, figure into that plotline and character's actions. Alcoholism complicates characters relationships with parents. In the show's fourth season on Hulu, characters of legal are shown imbibing alcohol irresponsibly, gulping liquor at a club. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Veronica Mars centers on a smart, independent teen girl who stands up for victims, but who often resorts to breaking rules to accomplish this. The series features violence and sexual references. Although the program is set in high school, it deals with very adult themes -- including murder, greed, infidelity, gang violence, date rape drugs, and rape -- and should be prescreened before allowing teens to tune in. Early seasons of the show were aired on network television and content was aligned to network standards, with subdued language, sexuality, and violence (though concepts and drama are often mature). Veronica Mars' fourth season was made by streaming service Hulu, and takes advantage of its freedom. Sexuality includes lots of frank talk about sex, with jokes about oral sex, trading sex for favors, a woman jokes with her dad about "scissoring" a female friend, and more. Characters also take off their clothes and have sex, with rhythmic movement and noises, though nudity is confined to a quick glimpse of a man's bare butt. Violence is also ramped up, with many (offscreen) deaths and some violent imagery, like a severed head that is thrown over a fence, though the show generally doesn't linger over gore. Drug use, particularly date rape drugs like GHB and Rohypnol, figures largely into early seasons, and on Hulu, adults are shown drinking irresponsibly at clubs. Veronica retains her toughness and sensitivity in the Hulu version of the show, while other characters are depicted with increasing complexity as they've grown to adulthood.

Wondering if Veronica Mars is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byaloe515 March 12, 2020

Great Female Role Model!

I really enjoyed this TV show, up until the 3rd season at least! This show has a great female role model and good messages!
Adult Written byTonileyla October 27, 2019

Strong female role model

It’s a great show about a teenager trying to figure out life and doing her best but definitely not for under fifteen as there’s talk of virginity, drugs, rape a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKenzieT-Rex January 4, 2020

Finally a teen female detective!

Veronica and her dad a great rolls models, and the characters are complex and likable, unlike in other teen deceive shows where all the characters are rich brat... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byps2641r5 April 7, 2019

Great show for teens who like drama and suspense

Great show. There are some drugs, and a good amount of drinking. There is a significant amount of violence, like murder, suicide, and rape, and many characters... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set in the wealthy California town of Neptune, VERONICA MARS is the story of a plucky 17-year-old detective (Kristen Bell) whose picture-perfect popular existence is cut short when her best friend/boyfriend's sister, Lilly Kane, is murdered. After a lowlife is arrested and convicted of the crime, Veronica's dad, town sheriff Keith (Enrico Colantoni), becomes convinced that Lilly's much-admired father is the real murderer. While Keith is deposed from office for his unpopular opinions and abandoned by his wife, Veronica remains steadfastly by his side. To support himself and his daughter, Keith sets up shop as a private eye. While he investigates crimes, a now-hardened Veronica does her own work on the sly for students falsely accused of crimes. In 2019, streaming service Hulu made an eight-episode fourth season, with a now-adult Veronica returned to Neptune, partnering with Keith in his private eye business, and looking into a series of bombings with political implications. 

Is it any good?

On the surface, this may appear to be yet another teen melodrama, but thanks to witty dialogue, unique direction, and exceptional acting, this unpredictable neo-noir sets itself a cut above the rest. That said, Veronica Mars' storylines can often be dark, complicated, and scary for young viewers: one episode features a bus of school kids that goes off a cliff, while another features a rape with complicated implications about power, abuse, and misogyny (that said, this particular plot twist is justifiably lauded for the nuanced, sensitive way it depicts rape and its ensuing and often long-lasting trauma). 

The tangled history of Veronica Mars also adds to its allure: the show first premiered on UPN in 2004, and though it was a critical hit and cult fave, wasn't a ratings breakout and was canceled after three seasons. In 2013, creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell spearheaded a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a Veronica Mars movie, the result was 2014's fan-service-heavy Veronica Mars. Then in 2019, Hulu released a fourth season of the show, with a now 39-year-old Bell as an adult Veronica, and many cast members reprising their roles. It's an unusual way to tell a story, over 15 years and counting, and fans will be delighted to know that the latest season is as sharp as Veronica ever was, with the same sharp wordplay and sense of fun. Now, however, there's an added layer of emotional complexity thanks to the long gestation period. In short, fans will be glad they hung in there. It's worth it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether they think Veronica Mars is a role model. Do you think her ability to stand up against the rich and popular kids is realistic?

  • What are the positives and negatives of high school popularity? How does Veronica's change in status affect her actions? They can also talk about the race and class issues that the show raises -- do teens see these types of problems in their own community?

  • How do the characters on Veronica Mars demonstrate integrity and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

  • How do characters and plotlines change over time on Veronica Mars? Do characters change as they become adults? How do past choices turn out in later seasons? How is storytelling affected when a show plays out over a long period of time like this one does? 

TV details

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

For kids who love great role models

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate