Daria is an American cartoon that came out in 1997 on MTV, yeah, it is very surprising now. Originally, it was suppose to be a spin-off from Beavis and Butt-head series, but became a sensation on its own. There area 5 seasons of episodes and 2 movies.
Daria Morgendorffer is the titular protagonist of this series. She is a new student in high school, and her physical appearance, cynical attitude and academic mastery immediately set her apart from most people. Despite her intelligence and cynical world views, she is still a high school girl. Things do emotionally upset her, she can’t communicate to everyone all the time, and make very dumb decisions from time to time.
Jane Lane is Daria’s best friend. She is an artist with hear of gold and cynicism of an old man. She is more outgoing than Daria, but not as smart nor critical as Daria. She is the second most featured character in the show and her witty comments are great partner for Daria’s sarcasm.
Quinn Morgendorffer is the Daria’s younger sister. Unlike her sister, Quinn is very outgoing and is practically the most popular girl in Laundale High. She is really into fashion and is embarrassed by her sister, but does show that she is not as shallow as she seems from time to time, especially near the end of the series.
Trent Lane is Jane’s older brother and Daria’s crush. Trent is lead of his band the Myystic Spirals, but they are thinking of changing the name. Unlike Daria, Trent is realllllllly laid back, unorganized, and generally cool. No wonder she is attracted to him.
The Morgendorffer girls are new at town and their school, Laundale High. Quinn is immediately liked by all, and Daria is ignored by all, except Jane who becomes Daria’s best friend. Now, Daria and Jane live their high school days criticizing everything and having a jolly good time doing it.
Some of the characters are…. very stereotypical, mainly the “popular” folks. Kevin the QB is stupid beyond imagination. His girlfriend Brittany is extremely minicscually smarter than her male counterpart. The fashion club head Sandi is toxic to the core. And Ms. Janet Barch hates men… well that is rather accurate more so this decade than then.
Starting season 4, Tom was introduced, and I think this was when the show started getting …. stereotypical. One of the things I enjoyed about Daria was this strange lack of drama when it comes to romance, and focusing on criticizing other tropes. But when Tom arrived, a lot of things change: Jane get jealous and paranoid about Daria stealing her boyfriend, about how Daria does indeed steal her best friend’s boyfriend, and how Daria doesn’t know what expect from their first anniversary… I get that this was to show other side of Daria and how she grows as a person…. but it seemed so forced. It was so mundane and followed how many other shows tackled similar problem. Worst of all, Daria’s time with Tom took away and made things awkward with Daria’s time with Jane, you know, the focus of the show.
Speaking of which:
The core of this series is Daria and Jane’s adventures through dreaded high school. The two of them are social outcasts, but they are outcasts together. Their relationship is so natural that it seems like they knew each other from birth. Daria knows how to tease and emotionally support Jane, and Jane knows the same for Daria. They are there for each other in each other’s lowest points. For example, Jane is applying to art colleges, but is rejected. Being afraid to be rejected again, Jane gives up. Knowing that Jane will regret abandoning great education, Daria pushes Jane to apply to her top choice school.
Starting with the first Daria movie, “Is it Fall Yet?” Quinn’s character started to get a lot better. There were hints of her actually having a personality before, but in the first movie and forwards, she gets better. When she sees the horrible relationship her mother, Helen, has with her sisters, Quinn’s aunts, she realizes that this could happen to herself and Daria. And for rest of the episode, and the season for that matter, Quinn tries to be better sisters with Daria. In the second movie, “Is it College Yet?”, Quinn gets the taste of life after high school: being popular with boys, being the popular one, and what trends people are following is not as important as she thought they were.
Daria may come of as …. a bitch, but she does have heartful moments. She likes her sister despite what either or them say, she respects her parents despite what she may betray, and she is attracted to things outside of her comfort zone. And one episode, it touched on how her actions created trouble and how they traumatized her.
This show has some of my favorite side characters. There is the history teacher who hates his job, that one teacher who has no backbone and is manipulated by all the women in his life, there is totalitarian principal, and dumbass couples who think their life can never go wrong. But of all of them, somehow the scaredy-cat girl from the Fashion Club took my heart, Tracy.
Tracy is … the “weak link” in the Fashion Club. Usually, Sandi is in charge, Quinn challenges her leadership, and Tiffany just nods, and Tracy tries to make everything okay. For most of the series, Tracy is a follower and has seriously low self esteem, you feel bad for her. Then in the later seasons, she starts getting confidence in her self and act in her own interest. One notable part was when UpChuck was doing magic to impress girls, the Fashion Club brushed it off as gross, but not Tracy. She approached the “gross” UpChuck and asked him about magic and later the two started doing magic show together. There Tracy really shone and showed that things she likes are cool and that she does not need Fashion Club’s approval. Damn she is great! And she is the only popular character that has no selfish goals.
- Will I watch it again? Well, this was already the second time watching it, granted I stopped part way the first time. Not because I thought it wasn’t good, but because my laptop was stolen and just never got back on to it. To answer the question, YES, I actually bought the complete DVD collection!
- Do I recommend this? Yes! The messages the show is presenting are still very relevant today. World exists beyond high school, life will be difficult, and things are always improved with pizza. And having a good friend or two doesn’t hurt.
I loved this show. I thought it was fantastic look at the 90’s as well as portrayal of teenage angst of socially inept girl. Daria was smart, it challenged TV tropes, and had so much heart to it! I definitely recommend it if you have not already seen it.
Hope you liked the review!