Sunday, December 30, 2007

Meet Mrs. Johanssen (Part 2)

Mumu-clad Mrs. Johanssen first appears in “Café Disaffecto,” when Daria and Jane arrive at her house selling chocolate bars. (Her house and property, by the way, are quite nice looking.) In obvious distress, she comes to the door wheezing, gasping, and sweating, short of breath and about to faint. She claims to have hypoglycemia and be under a doctor’s orders to avoid chocolate, but she is less interested in her health than in getting all of the chocolate that the girls are selling. When frustrated she begins to shout and swear in anger, but Daria and Jane leave and she does not go after them. (You can barely see Daria and Jane standing at her front door in the second picture above. Click on it to enlarge it.)

Mrs. Johanssen reappears at the flea market in “That Was Then, This Is Dumb,” asking Daria and Jane if they are selling snow domes. She doesn’t appear to recognize them from earlier and leaves in disgust when Daria begins a spiel about aliens from space. In “The Old and the Beautiful” the Fashion Club arrive at her home asking for clothing donations, but the Clubbers leave as soon as they catch sight of her, not wishing to have any of her castoffs. “Mart of Darkness” is much the same as above, as Mrs. Johanssen gets into a fight with Mr. DeMartino at a PayDay warehouse store (think Sam’s Club or Costco) over a “Cheez Log.” She also asks for help from Daria and Jane (once again not recognizing them) in reaching chocolate on a high shelf, saying she had a seizure some time ago. The seizure might have been the fainting spell she had in “Café Disaffecto” or something more serious.

It is in “Psycho Therapy” that we learn a little bit about why she is the way she is, when she is in therapy with Dr. Jean-Michel Millepieds and says, “Maybe I do use food for comfort, but at least a chocolate bar never told me I was an accident.” Ouch. Interestingly, Mrs. Johanssen does not seem to recognize Quinn, though Quinn came to her door, too.

One wonders again why Mrs. Johanssen proved to be so popular that four different writers used her in various episodes (Glenn Eichler, Anne D. Bernstein, Neena Berber, and Rachelle Romberg—twice). Whatever works, I guess. More on this character later.

1 comment:

E. A. Smith said...

Well, she's certainly someone who sticks in the memory, a bit more than the usual background characters. She really stands out in a crowd, and the writers were probably enjoying the opportunity to work with someone a little different.