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The Genius Of “Daria”

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Image from MTV's Daria

Queen of Teenage Angst: Daria Morgendorffer.

Daria’s dry wit, low esteem for others, and realist point of view make the eponymous show the cult classic it is today. While many may jump to call Daria a cynic, I disagree completely: “Inside every cynic is a disappointed idealist.” Though Daria often wears some sardonic armor, she nor her show are inherently cynical.    

At its heart, Daria is an ensemble show full of wacky characters that are no less developed than our protagonist. The Morgendorffer family even eats dinner together in almost every episode, always appearing to be eating the same lasagna. Daria’s younger sister, Quinn, for instance, acts as Daria’s foil. Quinn revels in her shallowness so much that Daria comments it could be mistaken for depth. Is it a joke? Yes. Is it still true? Yeah.   

In the suburban world of Lawndale, Daria is a “weird girl” in the best way possible. Daria forms opinions for herself that are based neither on societal norms nor expectations. While navigating high school, she critiques popular culture as it affects its most susceptible market: teenagers. Unlike the slightly older demographic that the show targets. 

Daria is meant to feel nostalgic. Who doesn’t love to reminisce about the past? High school itself often just feels like backstory while it’s happening. Only in Daria, audiences key into this, able to cringe at themselves with more neutrality and less self-pity. 

The ingenuity of the show’s title comes from how the viewer watches it, which is through Daria’s perception. Within the world of Lawndale, Daria — save Jodie Landon (who we STAN) — is often identified as the smartest character. Daria’s audience is just as smart as Daria. And that is whose story we’re to listening to after all. 

Daria aired from 1997-2002. Many fans now are currently awaiting the newest spin-off, Jodie. Produced by and starring black-ish’s Tracee Ellis Ross as Jodie Landon, the new series will “satirize workplace culture, Gen Z struggles, themes of empowerment across gender and racial lines and explorations of privilege.” Are you excited for this new series?

  • Are you excited for Jodie?

    • Yes!!
    • No
    • I’ve never heard of this show before!

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Written by Nina Slowinski

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