Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Did Daria Join the Herd After All?

Here's a discussion question for you: Did Daria cop out at the end of her series and join the herd?

There are three basic elements about the Daria show we know and love.

1. Daria has a bad attitude about almost everyone else in the world because she thinks they're idiots, and she refuses to join them in doing idiot-like things.

2. Everyone else in the world really IS an idiot, and this is proven over and over and over again.

3. Daria's bad attitude and refusal to be a joiner are thus justified. She is clearly on the right course.

The first two seasons of Daria basically validated the above premises. The third season muddled around, then we had the fourth and fifth season and the movies. At the end, Daria admits her parents aren't entirely stupid, she is worried that her lifestyle will lead her to be a lonely old woman in a houseful of cats, and she is every bit as capable of being thoughtless and mean and stupid as everyone else. She doesn't live up to her high expectations and is encouraged not to continue doing so. She is on her way to joining the herd, and all that attitude she had as a high-school sophomore turns out to be kid stuff.

Or is that true? Your thoughts next in Comments.


E. A. Smith said...

I'd say my fanfics have made my opinion on the topic pretty clear, but to sum them up: Daria didn't "sell out" at the end of the series; she matured. Realizing that one's particular way is not the only way is a key step in progressing from an adolescent to an adult, and the last couple of the seasons of the show portrayed Daria taking her first steps in that direction. Daria never joined the herd; she just realized that she didn't have to make so much of a fuss about not joining it.

James said...

I think her high school graduation speech summed up it up best:

Otherwise, my advice is: stand firm for what you believe in, until and unless logic and experience prove you wrong; remember, when the emperor looks naked, the emperor is naked; the truth and a lie are not "sort of the same thing"; and there's no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can't be improved with pizza. Thank you.

As we can see, she might behave differently but inside, she's the same person.

The Angst Guy said...

The fifth season is really a curious mix of pro and con. Daria gets a boyfriend, but in the worst possible way other than killing Jane. Daria decides to stand up to the Ultra-Cola contract and is derided by everyone, but is completely vindicated in the end, helping everyone at her school. She writes and story and sends it in for publication, but acts like a fool when she yells at Tom for encouraging her. She refuses to show the incoming students around the high school, then gives up and does it anyway, though she subverts the process by giving a "Daria" tour instead of a white-bread one. She decides to have sex, chickens out, kicks herself and tries to break up with Tom, and goes back to him anyway.

I think part of the issue I have is that, for so long, Daria and Jane were the only rational people in the series. (Well, Mack too, but let's not go there again, we know about Mack.) Then Tom comes in and he's rational, too, most of the time, and he makes Daria look irrational and foolish at times. Or, we could say that Daria, in dealing with her first serious dating relationship, has a ton of problems and acts pretty badly at times, trying to break up with Tom every five minutes.

A lot of things bothered me about the fifth season and IICY?, in the way Daria was painted. It looked like she gave a lot of ground and I wonder if that was necessary.

The Angst Guy said...

She writes and story...

I meant, She writes a story...

The Angst Guy said...

I think what bugs me is that Daria, who wasn't stupid, starts dating and acts completely stupid, just like everyone else. In that sense, to me, she did join the herd, and that irked me. Maybe it was necessary, maybe not. I wish she had been portrayed as less of a dope.

Mean Joe Spleen said...

From IICY?

I am looking forward to summer, and, to my amazement, excited about college next year.

"Selling out" is putting it the wrong way. Is she going to fit in?

Plenty of snide, cynical, witty young people, more than a few with some social rough edges, will say that they found places for themselves when they went out into the larger world that higher ed offers. It's hard to be really critical of the world when your brittle bon mots are getting you drinks and dates.

Especially at a school like "Raft," (aka Tufts) where all sorts of bright young things from all over the nation (and perhaps the world) will come together for the learning (that is, socialization) experience.

Great fic that will never be written: Daria goes to Raft. Doesn't change, outwardly, a bit. She becomes incredibly popular. Entrenched cliques vie to invite her to their soirees. Men (and women if you want to give it a slash dimension) fall over each other for Daria's attentions because if that Morgendorffer girl doesn't cut you dead within two minutes of meeting her, then you must be pretty frickin' kewl. "She's Evelyn Waugh but with tits!" says a boy from an uber-preppy NE family. "She knows what's on the core syllabus better than some of the TAs," murmurs a similarly bookish, but much more shy young woman who tosses and turns at night thinking of her hair and half-smile. "She may not be a smart dresser, but she doesn't suffer fools!" says the pledge chair of one of the better sororities on campus, and everyone agrees (and secretly hopes that among the efforts to recruit her will be a relaxation of the current, stifling Laura Ashley-esque dress code)

Will success change Daria Morgendorffer? Never. Will it spoil her? It already has.

E. A. Smith said...

I think what bugs me is that Daria, who wasn't stupid, starts dating and acts completely stupid, just like everyone else. In that sense, to me, she did join the herd, and that irked me.

Sounds more like she became human; there is nothing for revealing one's flaws like dating, after all. And maybe that can be irksome to us as fans. We want to be able to admire OH without reservation, to see her as something to aspire to, and it can be daunting when she reveals herself to be as flawed as any of us. But a Daria who acts perfectly rational through such an irrational experience as a relationship is not a Daria with whom I can relate, and a Daria with whom I cannot relate is no more than just a picture on a screen to me.

slumshoes said...

Daria join the "Herd"? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. If she did something "herd-like" in Season 4 & 5, that's just a phase (at least that's what I kept saying to myself). I'm sure she'll come to her senses in college. If you remember the last conversation she had with Jane in IICY, her outlook in college is pretty much like high school. So I guess she's back to normal after dumping Tom. Damn him.