Saturday, 21 May 2011

Why I'm relieved Daria didn't lose her virginity

The year is 1997. The film Titanic had just been named the most popular released film of 1997, Brook Lee is crowned 46th Miss America and it is two years after Gangsters Paradise is named the number 1 song of September 14th 1995, my birthday.  
In the midst of all these riveting events, MTV was trying to catch on to pop culture's latest fad and renew it's name as one of the most 'on the pulse' go-to teen channels of the nineties. 
What came out of this was a teen show called Daria. The show aimed to capture the life of high-school through the eyes of a teenage girl, mirroring other popular shows of the decade (My So Called Life, Buffy etc.) which also reflected hormonal, angsty teenage girls as the main protagonists. 
The character Daria Morgendorffer in which the show is named after, was a character on the popular TV show Beavis and Butthead. Why Beavis and Butthead was popular is beyond me.. every-time I've tried to watch a segment of this show of gurgling stoners, it makes me feel like I'm missing out on the 'humour'. Kind of like how I feel watching Two and a Half Men...

An early appearance of Daria on Beavis and Butthead

Daria's time on Beavis and Butthead was short lived, however the creators had always meant to create a spin-off show of her... or so interviews with the creators have claimed. 

What saved the show 'Daria' from an untimely demise was Daria's unique character. The show reflects high-school life with perfect satarical preciseness, highlighting popular stereotypes such as the air-head jocks and cheerleaders, greasy teenage boys who always seem to be completely unaware of the fact that their subscription to Pro-active has expired and vapid self-conscious sisters. 
In the midst of all these stereotypes, Daria provides the show with a cynical view on high-school life with her quick-witted comments matched up with her perpetual sarcastic tone of voice. She created an almost normality to the weirdness of high-school and created a hero-like character that made the 'out-casts' of high-school feel okay. She was a heroine of the weird kids of high school, which is why I appreciate her so much as an inspiring character.

The character Daria reminds the audience to take a few minutes to think of high-school in a more comedic light, unlike the overly dramatic interpretations of high-school represented in popular teen drama's of the time.
The show was a refreshing take on a mundane part of life and it was very important for the themes of the show to remain relevant to teenagers as it was important for the show to maintain it's aim to make light of the fact of 'growing up'

Throughout the 5 seasons the viewers are audience to Daria's personal development. She is faced with issues such as body image, how to keep your dignity and avoid contradicting your morals, how to deal with stressed dad's that obsess over over-ordering too many sausages and becoming addicted to technology. As the season's progress, the themes that Daria faces mature. Where Daria was once going bright red at the sight of her best friend's brother's smooth voice and guitar skills, she was now  going on dates and worrying about whether to commemorate relationship anniversaries or not.

I feel as though my Daria has been lost within the last season, where is the cynical teenager that once mocked doting teen couples? and WHY IS SHE WORRYING ABOUT HER VIRGINITY.

In the end of Season 4 Daria acquires a boyfriend. This was not an issue to me as Tom seemed to be an extension of Daria's personality and provided a nice back-story to many episodes. Tom's character reflected Daria's humour and if I didn't know any better, I would think that the pair could take over the world with sarcastic comments and a very refined taste for pizza. The relationship didn't seem to affect Daria's independent personality and I was glad to not see her develop into the whiny girlfriend like a similar character in the series, Brittany (who embodies just that quality)

However, later in season 5 Daria completely ignores all of her values and morals and questions her VIRGINITY. Now, why do I make such a big deal of this? Yeah Daria is a teenager and has a boyfriend and has been with him for a while and is supposedly expected to have lost 'it' already to him for just that reason. And I do understand the writer's decision to write in a story-line highlighting just this supposed 'issue' or expectation on teenage relationships, but Daria isn't like that! She's meant to spit and mock even the thought of kissing a boy or fulfilling any expectations society has put on her as a teenage girl.
Story-lines like this do the exact opposite to accommodate the under-dogs of high-school life and do more to appeal to the percentage of stereotypical teenagers. This story line seems more like a plot that the stereotypical cheerleader and jock of the show (as portrayed by the characters Kevin and Brittany) would fit, and less of a story-line that Daria would involve herself in.

After a while of self questioning, Daria decides she is not ready to conform to society's expectations of her and goes back to being cynical and sarcastic to all topics involving reproduction. Her decision is admirable, however I do give the writers a big thumbs down for this story line, they should leave the topic of sexually activity amongst teens to 90210.

- Alexa


  1. I miss the nineties. Girls had some strong female role models to look up to in television. Now it's all ugh.

    I just read an article/rant about MTV's potential live action Daria movie and their candidates for the leading lady were Aubrey Plaza, Zooey Deschanel, Janeane Garafalo, and Ellen Page. *facepalm*

  2. I LOVE Aubrey Plaza, and Jeneane Garafalo.. but doesn't she seem a bit old for the role? I think they should get someone unknown to play Daria to be honest..

  3. I'd rather they have an unknown actress for the role too. I adore Aubrey Plaza but I don't want her to start getting niche movie roles and become like Micheal Cera or Ellen Page.

  4. i never watched daria, i can't get into protagonists that cynical, so i don't understand why you think the show shouldn't touch on sexual activity.

    even without societal pressure, hormones make it almost impossible for teens not to think about sex. do you think you would have liked the story line better if they went about it a different way?

  5. @Nevena - Valid points, however if we are discussing Daria's attention to real teen issues, there would be expected for the writers to include issues relating to drugs/alcohol etc. I'll go over the episodes, however I doubt that these were topics that were paid attention to in the show.

    I meant as it was out of character for this to be a story-line that Daria would be involved in, I don't think it was a mistake for the show to touch on this topic, however I believe it was a storyline best suited for a different character.