Thursday, February 25, 2010

Never to Be

"Partner's Complaint" first aired ten years ago today, kicking off the fourth season of Daria. In retrospect this episode was a sad one. It became clear that things between Daria and Jane would never be the same, but that was unavoidable, too. They had to grow up and find other people sometime. It was sad for me, too, that Daria and Jodie were clearly never going to connect as real friends. Jodie was a hard-core go-getter, the distillation of type-A Helen Morgendorffer, and Daria was a depressed slacker with brains but no drive, and no desire to get any drive. Daria did not come off looking well at all. I'm not sure anyone came out looking good. Life is like that, I guess.

Funny, I was thinking that seeing Daria and Jodie try to work together reminded me a lot of Daria interacting with her mother. A lot of the same dynamics, the Irresistable Force and the Immovable Object.

Your opinions? What are your thoughts about "Partner's Complaint"? Ignoring Tom, that is.


Roland 'Jim' Lowery said...

It was sad for me that Jodie was DEAD WRONG and Daria didn't call her on it!

Did I say "sad"? I meant INFURIATING!




The Angst Guy said...

I thought Jodie using her family's name was a real Helen thing to do, too. Take no prisoners, get to the top RITE NAO.

Anonymous said...

"It was sad for me that Jodie was DEAD WRONG and Daria didn't call her on it!"

Yeah, that exactly.. I mean she even apologized! *throws up*
And because of that it's one of my least favourite episodes. Although, if the aim of Eichler and Co was to show how vulnerable Daria has become because of the problems with Jane then that's kinda acceptable. Still, I'll just put Daria's behaviour (especially the apology) down to temporary insanity.

abe said...

But WAS Jodie 'dead wrong'? She said, "...we've put together a comprehensive business plan with the help of my father, Andrew Landon." That would seem to have been the literal truth (she says the same to the first loan officer after she no longer has any intention of trying for that loan), so this was at worst a gray area, of the same sort as her immediately preceding statement, "we're very excited about our idea," when neither she nor (especially) Daria could be that greatly enthused over a class assignment. The identity of Jodie's father is legitimately of importance to the bank officers, who are interested mainly in seeing that the loan will be repaid, not defaulted on. Jodie may not like the fact that her father's wealth and reputation is of more influence than the hard work that went into the business plan, but she is willing to make use of this after she cools off. Daria likes it even less, but is not entirely devoid of pragmatism. Jodie admitted that it might be something of a gray area, but pointed out that it was a legitimate approach to the assignment as stated (Bennett's words "experience some real-life economics"), and Daria, after some thought, agreed. In my opinion, the most 'wrong' thing was the nature of the assignment itself, which did not permit of initially asking if people would mind donating some of their work time to an educational project that would net them no income; and even that may be considered more gray than black.

Roland 'Jim' Lowery said...

Yes, she was dead wrong.

Crime #1: Screwing the assignment. By name dropping, she harms both Daria and herself. Jodie won't be able to rely on Andrew Landon to help her through her financial applications and such forever, and Daria isn't going to really be able to rely on name-dropping at all. By greasing the wheels this way and bypassing many of the hurdles that people without well-to-do famous-among-bankers fathers would have to jump over, neither Daria nor Jodie are getting full benefit from the assignment. She may or may not be violating the letter of the assignment, but she is most definitely violating its spirit.

It is later proven that she did indeed seem to learn the wrong lesson from all of this. While arguing with Daria, she says "We were supposed to approach an adult financial situation like adults and that's exactly what I did." Yes, that's right. She approached it like a sneaky, underhanded, unethical, immoral adult. Good job, Jodie! I'm sure that the lesson Mrs. Bennett intended you to learn was that it's now what you know, it's who you know!

Crime #2: Hypocrisy. First guy obliquely brings race into it, then backpedals when he figures out who Jodie's father is. Jodie gets mad at him accepting her just because of that and refuses to have anything to do with him. Her exact words after this were "All I want is to be judged on my own merits, you know?" The second guy doesn't even get a chance to offend her in any way - racist or otherwise - because she immediately drops her father's name, and in doing so, she violates her own previously stated ethics. It can't even be claimed that this was just something that she said because it's the truth . . . you can see by her expression in that scene that she knows exactly what she's doing.

When she asked Daria if Daria was calling her a hypocrite, Daria's answer should have been an unequivocal "YES".

Crime #3: Lie by omission. Funny how Jodie never mentioned in her report that she used her father's name to help grease the wheels at the bank, eh? And that when it seemed that Daria was going to mention that, she got that "Oh crap!" look going, eh? Eh? Eh?! At best, she and then Daria did mention it, but only disguised as clever business double-talk, making it a lie by obfuscation instead. But still a lie either way.

So, she fudged the assignment, violated her ethics, and then covered it up. And for some insane reason, Daria ends up not only being okay with this, she helps Jodie out with the cover-up!

The hypocrisy is the part that stings the worst because it wasn't just a violation of ethics she displayed in this episode alone, it violated her "I want to do things on my own and make it my own way" attitude that she displayed through almost the entire series.

So yes. Once again. Daria was right and Jodie was wrong, and Daria should have stuck to her guns on the issue.

abe said...

Jim, you make some good points, though I don't completely agree with your first one. Thanks for pointing out #3: I had not revisited the end of the episode when I made my first comment above. Daria does seem to be more reluctant than usual to point out the hypocrisy and the failings of a less-than-ideal world.

#1: At most, I am in partial agreement here. Name-dropping, yes, but not screwing the assignment. They did actually put in the work to create the business plan, and pitched it on its own merits to the first banker, who suggested to Daria that her father's co-signature would be necessary (though perhaps not sufficient). This, and the success of Jodie's name-dropping with the second banker, did indeed demonstrate the real-world economic lesson that when you are trying to get your foot in the door, who you know is indeed usually at least as important as what you know (at the very least, to serve as a reliable reference that you really do know what you are supposed to). This should have been a major point of their in-class summary (see point #3). Note also that, while parents may not always be the appropriate 'whom you know' and will not be around forever, they are supposed to be around for minors (as Daria and presumably Jodie were at the time), and frequently supply support when needed for years thereafter (college fund, anyone?), until the children have built up their own reputations to rely on. Certainly Jodie's parents are controlling enough that they would be involved in any major project she undertook (even, it seems, in the planning for this mere class assignment). The only actual misrepresentation was the fact that they were not really applying for a loan, which could only have been avoided if they (a) refused to do the assignment (generally considered a bad thing in school, besides being bad for one's grades) or (b) actually started up a business (which would be impractical, given Jodie's lack of available time, and Daria's lack of motivation and experience).

#2: Hypocrisy: I pretty much agree with your point here, and Daria pointing out the hypocrisy and then declining an explicit accusation of it may be somewhat out of character. Jodie's initial anger suggests that she has some inkling of it, even though she may not yet be able to admit it to herself at that point, let alone to somebody else. From what she says, it looks like Daria may consider the hypocrisy to be of minor importance compared to the ethics involved in how they completed the assignment, and lets the former slide when she decides that the latter was acceptable. Jodie does apologise, though only for "biting Daria's head off."

#3: Lying by omission in the class report: Again, I pretty much agree with your point here. The "success via name-dropping, more than business plan preparation" should have been the main conclusion of the report. While we hear only the beginning of the report, the way they start suggests that such a conclusion either was not pointed out at all, or at least was not emphasized.