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Daria: The Complete Animated Series

Daria: The Complete Animated Series

What She said:

She

When I think about my life in junior and senior high, there are a few cultural phenomena that come to mind.  Daria is one of them.  I know the character originated on Beavis and Butthead, but I’m not a guy, so that show, while funny, didn’t really capture me.  Daria, on the other hand, seemed to embody the quasi-pessimistic (I like to think of it as realism), sarcastic, and self-depreciating mentality that I had as a teenager.

Basic background, Daria and her sister Quinn move to Lawndale, where they enter a new high school filled with all the stereotypes—jocks, ditzy blondes, the fashion club, and loners.  Quinn quickly finds her niche, as she seems to have the popularity gene.  Daria, though, is a bit of an outsider.  The cartoon (did I mention it’s animated?) follows her as she navigates the hallways of high school and all that this time-of-life brings with it.  Daria’s best friend, Jane, are her share many of the same viewpoints, but come from very different backgrounds.  Over the course of the series there are fights, boyfriends, family drama, and lots and lots of smart social commentary and humor.

That’s really what Daria is about.  It’s a commentary on high school, playing up stereotypes that actually do exist, and making light of the awkward situations that seem to define our teenage years.  The show ran from 1997-2002, and so it may seem a bit dated.  It’s hard for me to judge, because I lived during that time and have little to no exposure to today’s high school scene, but many of the elements seem to hold up well.  The show will resonate better with people who feel like they can relate to Daria and her plight—individuals who felt like outsiders as a teen, watching the high stakes drama of the years unfold around them.  I think it also works better with women, who seem to have a slightly different high school experience from men, regardless of social crowd.

I’m not saying I was just like Daria in junior and senior high.  I wasn’t.  Yes, I was in band, and I had plenty of insecurities, but I was also an athlete and had a group of friends.  But I also didn’t take those years too seriously, always knowing that everything after graduation would be different.  Daria thrives on the stereotypes it critiques, and they are over dramatized, but the point is the satire that it creates.  So much of the humor of this show comes from the un-said.  It was once mentioned to me, “Why would we want a hero like Daria, someone who thinks everyone is foolish but her?”  But if you watch the show unfold from beginning to finish (and do allocate several weeks for this), you’ll realize that it explicitly illustrates her own flaws as well.

Ok, off my soapbox now and on to the foundation of all this.  Daria was a great show, and it’s not just worth renting, it’s worth owning.  The characters are hilarious, situations relatable, and the message is poignant.  I saw this at Best Buy just last week for $23.  $23 for the whole show!  Alas, I had nothing in my pockets but lint, but I would buy this in a heartbeat.

Thumbs up.