I’m racking my brains to try and come up with some clever, witty way to start this review the way Daria would. Some sarcastic, hard hitting comment. But I can’t think of anything. Maybe that’s for the best. I think that no matter how hard I try I probably won’t be able to come up with anything that’s up to Daria’s standard.
Anyway, as you may have guessed this is a review of the late 90’s animated MTV series Daria. Over the last couple of months I have been slowly but surely making my way through the complete series box set having never seen the show before. I suppose the fact it probably hasn’t even aired in New Zealand before and that I was but a wee boy when it was on have something to do with it. I hadn’t even heard of it until the person who lent it to me said I would like it, and boy were they right. Yes, sometimes I say stuff like ‘boy were they right’. I might even through in a ‘gee whiz’ every now and again, if you’re lucky. Anyway, Daria is incredibly addictive and even though most of the music has been changed for the DVD release it barely takes away from what is a brilliant series.
Daria follows smart, sarcastic, cynical teenage girl Daria as she goes about her life in the town of Lawndale, along with Jane, Daria’s best and only friend, who too sees the world as Daria does. They both attend Lawndale High, which must be one of the most dysfunctional high schools in America with a man hating science teacher, an extremely sensitive English teacher, and an always angry history teacher (with an eye that is always on the verge of exploding from his head). Of course there are all the stereotypical students as well – the jocks, cheerleaders, mean girls, and overachievers. On top of all this there is Daria’s younger sister, Quinn, who pretends Daria is her “cousin or something”. Daria goes about her life, making witty, sarcastic remarks on the world around her as she goes.
I am really struggling to write this as I just don’t know where to start with Daria. There is just so much to write about that this review could go on for a very, very, very long time. But never fear as being an internet reader myself I won’t let it.
I think that I will start with how fantastic the characters really are. The characters are what make this show. I have a few favourites. Mr DeMartino is definitely one of them. The crazy, angry history teacher who constantly questions why he became a teacher. One particularly classic moment is when on strike he threatens to picket naked, “You think I’m bluffing? This is Goodwill polyester I’ve been sweating in all night. I WANT to picket naked!” Then there is Trent, Jane’s slacker, musician brother who speaks like an old man on his death bed. Trent is the lead singer/guitar player for his band Mystik Spiral who have such tunes as ‘Behind my Eyelids’, ‘From the Futon’, and ‘Ow! My Face’. Mr O’Neill, the sensitive English teacher who often breaks down and cries is also a fave. Then there is Jake, Daria’s father. He is always on the edge of a breakdown and can go through major mood swings. Lastly there is Jane. Jane is just really cool.
Daria’s classic quotes are another awesome aspect of the show. Daria can always come up with a cynical, witty, sarcastic remark for any situation. A few examples include “Sometimes your shallowness is so thorough, it’s almost like depth”, and “Dad, these tired bones may be locked behind prison walls, but when I play this rusty old harp my soul flies, free as a bird.” Jane also has some great one liners like “Gee that was fun. But in the future, let’s save time and just roll around on gravel” and “Can we get on with this? I have someplace to go. Television counts as a place.” I agree, television definitely counts as a place.
Daria is also amazingly well written. I can’t think of a single episode that I didn’t enjoy. Although I must admit, when Daria has a dream that Kevin is murdered, it is a bit brutal; and an episode where holidays embodied as twenty something musician’s escape from ‘Holiday Island’, is a bit silly. However, these are only two not so good moments I can think of out of 66 episodes and two movies, and I still enjoyed the two episodes in question. It is really easy to watch one episode, and then another, then another, and before you know it is one o’clock in the afternoon – the next day. That’s a testament to a good show and to good writing.
Daria is an extremely entertaining, relatable show that I believe everyone can enjoy. With its original characters, witty quotes, and clever writing it rates right up there as one of my favourite animated shows. Grab the DVD, sit down, and let all the Daria goodness wash over you.
Created By: Glenn Eichler, Susie Lewis Lynn
Alvaro J. Gonzalez
PG (Contains Violence and Coarse Language) (New Zealand)
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Images © MTV Networks