In 1997, long before MTV began sharing the diluted lives of pregnant teenagers and Jersey Shore residents, they had Daria. Not only Daria, but good seasons of the Real World and a long forgotten show, Road Rules. Daria was one of MTV’s highest rated shows in the 90s, and probably because they had few television shows during that time. What can I say, MTV, quality over quantity. What happened? I was 10 when this show began, and I truly didn’t appreciate everything it had to offer until I grew up and could fully comprehend most of it. Some things definitely float over a 10 year olds head. I recently began to re-watch all 5 glorious seasons of Daria, and I thought I’d share 5 things I love about the show & everyone’s favorite cynical, sarcastic television character.
5. Sick, Sad World
Sick, Sad World is as if the world’s worst tabloid and television had a love child. I suppose it would be the TMZ of today except with less celebrity gossip and more stories about the image of Jesus in a candy bar. Sick, Sad World was seen only a few times, but the voiceover during other scenes was it’s most frequent appearance. As a television program it touted everything from G-String grannies, the jaywalking dead, to a killer whale licensed to practice law. Who wouldn’t want to watch this show? If I wasn’t stuck watching Unsolved Mysteries re-runs in the 90s, I would have been watching this. Well, if it was real anyway. With news stories today, I’m surprised there isn’t a real version of Sick, Sad World to entertain us. I guess that would just be called the 10 o’clock news.
4. The Fashion Club
Quinn, Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany, or the Fashion Club, were the complete opposite of Daria and Jane. They are vapid, shallow, and involved in a self-appointed school club. For a fashion club, they didn’t seem to care all that much about fashion. They wore the same outfits in every episode, but that comes along with the territory of being a cartoon. Sandi is jealous of Quinn and her popularity, and the other two just fall in line. It’s like a real life high school clique. They are equally self involved and, to a degree, annoying. Eventually, like in life, the Fashion Club was disbanded, but they vowed to stay in touch. If there ever was a where are they now for Daria, I’d love to see what the Fashion Club is up to in their late 20s. Every once in a while I can be found saying “QA-UINN” in a nasally tone.
3. Daria + Jane
In the pilot episode, Daria and Jane meet in a special class for students with low self-esteem. They eventually bond over how ridiculous the class is, and work together to get out of it. An everlasting friendship has been born. Daria and Jane have a friendship built on the greatest of qualities: the ability to accept each others flaws. Jane knows Daria has a cynical view on life and society in general and choses to accept it. Jane is more outgoing and even becomes a popular cheerleader when asked to try something she thought she would fail at. Jane, at one point, even joins the track team. It’s different, but in both situations Jane became disgusted with the mainstream. Daria may not be so accepting of Jane’s ability to slide right into the aforementioned mainstream, but it all works out in the end. Despite not having any parental guidance whatsoever Jane has a head on her shoulders. No matter what their differences throughout the run of the show they remained friends. (Although sometimes the fence was mended by Trent.) That’s admirable to me even if it’s a cartoon. Plus, she keeps Daria’s biggest secret which leads me to number 2…
2. Trent Lane
Daria has a crush on Jane’s older brother, Trent. Who didn’t have a crush on Trent? Trent is a musician and a slacker. A stereotypical version of person in their late-teens/early 20s in the 90s. Trent was everything I wished for in a boyfriend when I was in my early teens. Not because I have some creepy love for a cartoon, but he was musician. He was fascinating to me. It was an extremely misguided crush on my part. Who knows, maybe he was the gateway to my current “type” of boy. Although Daria probably never knew, Trent was aware, to some degree, that Daria liked him. Eventually, after a couple of seasons, Trent and Daria had a breakup of sorts when Trent forgot to deliver the music for Daria’s project. A clue of sorts that if there ever was a hope for Daria and Trent, it just wouldn’t work. Daria eventually moves on and begins seeing Tom, a former boyfriend of Jane’s. I’m not quite sure what happened to Trent, but I’m sure he’s out there making Mystik Spiral (they’re changing the name) a thing.
How could Daria, the main character of the show, not be number 1? Daria always had some snide, humorous comment to make. It was usually a jab on the situation or the person she was speaking to. I didn’t understand how useful sarcasm can be at the time, but now I use it practically every time I speak. She said whatever she wanted to even to her parents, and they never punished her. Either they were very dense or appreciate her peculiar sense of self. Daria is smart, possibly too smart for her own good, and makes it known. She’s smarter than the adults, including teachers, and the students at her school. There’s something that makes Daria, dare I say it, endearing. I can’t say Daria shaped my personality, that’s absolutely ridiculous, but I can say she made my cynical outlook on situations and use of sarcasm feel more accepted. Except I was punished for snide comments, and couldn’t outsmart my teachers. Well at least not till high school anyway. I appreciated Daria was an outsider. Daria wasn’t concerned about being popular, dressing fashionably, or having a boyfriend. 3 things I thought high school would be all about. Now that I’ve been through high school I can honestly say I appreciated the Daria road of high school much more than the Brittany or Quinn way. Eventually, like all of us, Daria graduated high school, and left all of us with some words of wisdom: “There is no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can’t be improved with pizza.”