Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Lady or the Tiger? Daria season 4.

Daria as Barbarella.
Season 3 ended on a somewhat somber note.  Jane is occupied with her new boyfriend, Tom, and Daria finally lets go of her infatuation with Trent.  However, as we have seen in the past, Daria becomes hostile when anything threatens her friendship with Jane.  While Jane acted flaky and uncool by ditching Daria at the grunge show to go to the diner with Tom, Daria is really her own worst enemy when it comes to the stability of her friendship with Jane.  And while Jane might seem like the only friend that matters, Daria also manages to botch a relationship with Jodie Landon, a would be friend.

Meanwhile, Quinn begins to feel the burn of Sandi's jealousy.  Not as much changes for her just yet, but she is also a girl in transition, and there is just so many times that she can put up a front of ignorance  before her facade begins to crumble.

Helen and Jake begin to address the flaws in their marriage in the most awkward way possible.  Because it's Helen and Jake, and nothing about their relationship is not a little bit awkward.

Here is the episode list for season 4.

TitleMTV's original airdateProduction codeEp #
"Partner's Complaint"February 25, 200040141
Daria and Jodie partner up for a budgeting project, as do Jane and Brittany, because Daria is being distant towards Jane. After unsuccessfully trying to get a prospective loan from the bank, Jodie gets mad at Daria for criticizing her for successfully using her father's reputation to snare the loan, which makes Daria realize that she's being too hard on her friends.
"Antisocial Climbers"March 3, 200040242
Mr. O'Neill arranges for a school-wide wilderness trip that ends in disaster when Mr. O'Neill suffers from asthma, Ms. Li plans to videotape the event for a television network, Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie bring Quinn's cute knick-knacks instead of the survival gear, Ms. Barch loses Mr. O'Neill, and Daria and Jane end up lost after Mr. DeMartino falls off a cliff. Meanwhile, Jake and Helen rent a cabin in the woods to rekindle their waning romance.
"A Tree Grows in Lawndale"March 10, 200040343
After Kevin crashes his motorcycle into the Tommy Sherman Memorial Tree, he starts feeling sorry for himself, and as a result, the football team start to ruin the reputation of Lawndale High (and, by proxy, the town) by losing every game. Tom's plan to have Kevin become a safety lecturer helps get things back to relatively normal.
"Murder, She Snored"March 17, 200040444
In this dream-based episode, Mr. DeMartino accuses Kevin and his football teammates of cheating on a history test and Daria jokes that she'll kill him, but the joke turns all too real when Daria is accused of murdering Kevin.
"The F Word"March 31, 200040545
Mr. O'Neill, after attending a teaching seminar, tells his students to try something they are certain to fail at, in order to achieve personal growth. Daria, Jodie, and Mack fail (therefore succeeding), but Brittany and Kevin succeed and therefore fail – Brittany's uncool attitude gets her alienated from her fellow cheerleaders and Kevin manages to get kicked off the football team. Jane faces the oddest "failure" when she is quickly embraced by the popular students at Lawndale and has to decide if she's going to return to her roots.
This episode has been re-named Fail for some re-runs on The N.
"I Loathe a Parade"April 7, 200040646
While going to the store to get toilet paper for Jake (who spends the entire episode sitting on the toilet reading a teen magazine), Daria gets lost in the homecoming parade, where she meets several people from past episodes, including Daria's old yearbook-editing classmate Ted Dewitt-Clinton from "The New Kid", the Gupty Family (who and their son, Tad, have a minor role here) from "Pinch Sitter", and most of all Tom—who shares a bizarre journey with Daria through the event's insanity as they try to find Jane.
"Of Human Bonding"April 14, 200040747
Daria goes to a marketing conference with Jake while Helen stays home and gets a makeover from Quinn and her Fashion Club.
"Psycho Therapy"June 28, 200040848
Helen receives an assignment from her law firm to determine if she has the makings of a partner, so she takes the family for a weekend therapy session. Meanwhile, Jane sets up a webcam show in her house.
"Mart of Darkness"July 5, 200040949
Tom accidentally eats Jane's art supplies (gummi bears) and she talks Daria into going to a new large wholesale store, where Mr. DeMartino gets into a fight with a free sample clerk, Trent and Jesse can't decide what they want to buy, and Daria and Jane discover an embarrassing secret about one of Lawndale High's students. Meanwhile, Kevin's father pressures Mr. O'Neill into letting him pass due to his stature as a jock.
"Legends of the Mall"July 12, 200041050
Quinn and the Fashion Club get lost coming home from the mall and Jake, Daria, and Trent try to look for them, all the while telling three scary stories:
  • The Rattling Girl (told by Stacey): A fashion-obsessed teen girl from the 1960s (who looks like Sandi) purposely starves herself to get rid of the fat in her eyelids, but ends up becoming so bony that she rattles when she dances.
  • Metal Mouth (told by Trent): An angry metal shop teacher (who looks like Mr. DeMartino) from the 1980s creates a pair of steel dentures after grinding his teeth into nothing (and not being able to afford regular dentures on a teacher's salary), but the dentures have the unfortunate power to pick up a radio signal that makes him sing Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun".
  • The House of Bad Grades (told by Jane): A nerdy girl from the 1950s (who looks like Daria) searches for peace and quiet when trying to fill out her college application, but ends up getting trapped in the bomb shelter her father built in case of a nuclear war and now haunts students who have dreams of graduating high school by writing wrong answers on their homework.
"Groped by an Angel"July 19, 200041151
Quinn believes she has a guardian angel after several strange things happen to her. Meanwhile, Brittany's father and stepmother throw a party for her, celebrating her managing a "C-" average the previous semester.
"Fire!"July 26, 200041252
After Jake accidentally sets the kitchen on fire, the Morgendorffers stay at a local hotel where Quinn meets a bellhop named Bobby whose supposed "uncle" works at the hotel. Meanwhile, Daria (unhappy at the idea of sharing the hotel room with Quinn) goes to stay at Jane's. During the stay, it begins to become clear that Daria and Tom have a connection, which is deepening the rift in the relationship between Jane and Tom. Trent makes Daria realize that Tom has feelings for her, and Daria struggles with the fact that the feelings may be mutual.
"Dye! Dye! My Darling"August 2, 200041353
Jane talks a reluctant Daria into letting her put tiger stripes in Jane's hair, who botches the job making Jane think Daria did it intentionally to split up her and Tom, although Jane realizes it wasn't intentional and forgives Daria the next day. However, that night Tom and Daria talk about what's going on between them in his car and the two suddenly kiss. A guilt-ridden Daria confesses all to Jane the next morning, who confronts Tom leading to the two amicably breaking up. Later, Daria and Jane discuss the situation and decide to put their friendship on hold although both hope they can work through what's happened. At the end of episode, as Daria mopes in her room, she gets a call from Tom...
Lots of great character development in this season, and the show remains funny and interesting. While season 3 had "Depth Takes a Holiday", and "The Lawndale Files" which were maybe a little too silly (I refuse to rag on the musical episode, but yes, it does belong with the former two), this season's "Legends of the Mall" and "Murder She Snored" feel a lot more genuine. 

Let's get down to it.  

The "silly" episodes

So the sillier episodes as mentioned are: "Legends of the Mall" and "Murder she Snored".  The first is a cute story where several characters impart their versions of Lawndale lore.  These urban legends
include a Daria like girl who gets trapped in her parent's fall out shelter and haunts any teenager who lives in her old house with bad grades.  A Sandi-type girl who freaks about having fat eyelids and looses so much weight that her bones begin to rattle.  Lastly, DiMartino is featured as a high strung shop teacher who has to replace his bad teeth with a self made steel jaw.  You know, because being a teacher he doesn't get paid enough or have the dental benefits to fix the problem properly.  Like the hook handed man in traditional urban lore, Metalmouth torments teenagers at makeout point.  However, the metal in his jaw picks up radio stations, and "Girls just wanna have fun" broadcasts through his teeth, letting the kids know that Metalmouth is near.  

This was a fun little episode where we got to see certain characters in a more fantastical setting, but without the "what the hell is going on" aspect that "Depth" had in the prior season.

In his dreams
"Murder she Snored" is a lot of fun.  Basically, the entire football team (sans Mack) get the exact same results on one of DiMartino's history exams.  An A.  No friggin' way!  DiMartino angrily threatens that if the person who initiated the cheating (AKA stole the test) doesn't fess up by the next day, he will fail the entire class.  Jane is pissed, because she got an 85, which graded on her personal curve is as good as an A.  Daria goes home and falls asleep to dream that she is at the center of a murder investigation when Kevin's dead body is found in her locker.  This episode catches on some surreal moments, as dreams usually do.   Not one to stand for being framed, Daria and Jane investigate, making Columbo and MacGuyver references galore.  Eventually the whole crime is pinned on Daria anyway.  That is until she proves that Kevin was actually murdered by several different parties.  Jane poisons him, because he threatened her 85.  Brittany and Mack shoot him with an arrow and hit him with a golf club.  DiMartino strangles him and shoves him in the locker.

The crime is still blamed and Daria who is sentenced to electrocution.  

Oh!  And there's this really fun Charlie's Angel's sequence with the fashion club.  "Up Chuck's Angels".  Sandi constantly asks Quinn when she's going to leave for a movie contract so Tiffany can take her place.  

Anyway, of course when Daria wakes up the next day, the whole cheating thing is solved.  While these episodes lacked character development, save for Sandi bullying Quinn, they were a good sidebar to the story.  And again, their execution worked given the context. 

Speaking of Sandi and Quinn...

God save the Quinn

As I mentioned above, Sandi finally finds the right time to pounce and ostracize Quinn in the way she's been wanting to for the past two seasons.  

I would play the hell out of this video game.
In "Groped by an Angel", Quinn is humiliated at a party when several mishaps being to challenge her feeling that a guardian angel is looking out for her.  A drink is spilled all over her, and she accidentally knocks over Mystik Spiral's sound board breaking an expensive item.  Sandi visibly gloats bringing attention to Quinn's embarrassment.  

Later, in "Legends of the Mall", the girls blame Quinn when Jake's car breaks down and they are told to take the bus back from the mall.  

But these are all later episodes.  The real zinger begins earlier on in the season.

In the second episode,"Anti-social Climbers" the entire school goes on a wilderness retreat gone wrong.  Quinn, as usual thinks more about what accessories would look cute on a hike than what supplies she might actually need.  In a mishap involving boys fighting to carry Quinn's bags, the essentials are left at the buses.  This is a shame, because a snow storm stands the students in a cabin in the woods (wouldn't that make a great horror movie?).  

When the rest of the fashion club realizes that Quinn is the reason they don't have necessities, Sandi immediately cites a "rule" in the fashion club doctrine which would oust Quinn for her mistake.  Stacey starts to argue on Quinn's behalf.  After all, Stacey has never heard of this caveat, but with a stern look in her direction, Sandi wins.  The three girls give Quinn the silent treatment while she scrambles to impress them with gifts from the cute clothes that she brought with her. 

Ouch.  Stacey clearly enjoys Quinn's alienation and groveling.  Great friends, that girl has.

And while we are on the subject of bullying, in "Mart of Darkness", Jane and Daria chase down an evasive mart at a Costco like store only to find out that it's their goth classmate Andrea.  Now, we've seen Andrea throughout the series, but she rarely speaks.  Once she is heard making a snarky comment, another time she reads poetry at a coffee house, but Andrea is mostly that goth girl in the background of several school scenes.  When Daria and Jane finally catch up with her, she relents that she was avoiding them because she was afraid they if they found out she was working at the mart, they would cut her down like they do "everyone else".  So to Andrea, Daria and Jane are bullies.  How interesting.  The girls don't do their worst though.  They ask Andrea for directions and keep her secret. Maybe learning that their comments have an impact on Andrea's emotional state gave them pause.  Maybe they just don't mind Andrea like the do some of the more annoying Lawndalers. 

Helen and Jake

Learning to communicate.
In "Anti-social Climbers" we find out that Helen has been attending couples therapy.  Without Jake.  You know, because she can get more done without him there.  She insists on taking a retreat where they can learn to communicate better.  So says the woman who sees a marriage counselor behind her husband's back.  The two start the trip by having sex, but then realize that they have nothing to actually talk about.  DiMartino stumbles upon their cabin while looking for Mr. O'Neill who was lost during Lawndale High's wilderness trip.  The three play charades, and no actual communication happens.  

Several times through out this season, Helen implies that she doesn't feel that Jake makes enough of an effort anymore.  This is all quite sad, because Jake clearly is oblivious to her feelings.  He also cares a great deal about her.  

In "Psycho Therapy" Helen is made to take her whole family on a retreat to a counseling spa in order to see if she has the qualities to be a partner in her law firm.  A therapist asserts that she has control issues while in a meeting with Jake.  Of course, her personality allows her the promotion, because lawyers should have control issues, right?  But she and Jake clearly have issues, issues. 

In "Fire" Jake accidentally sets fire to part of the house forcing the family into a hotel while repairs are made.  At first he and Helen argue as soon as they hit the hotel room.  But just as soon as this happens, they embrace and have sex.  This seems to be the way all of their fights end.  However, the nice thing about this episode is that the time in the hotel allows them to relax.  They seem to reconnect in some way.  Their relationship isn't perfect, but this is what works for them.  

Daria and Quinn 

There isn't as much sisterly bonding as will come in the next few posts.  In fact, in "Fire", Quinn insults Daria by telling the fashion club that her sister is the hotel maid, prompting her to stay with the Lanes.  "Groped by an Angel", Daria does actually give her sister an honest answer regarding her spiritual beliefs.  She informs her that she sees pretty convincing evidence that there is no higher power looking out for anyone.  When Quinn is depressed by her answer, she amends that she hasn't seen any evidence that there is not a higher power either. 

As we know, Daria is pretty unrelenting in her honesty.  To make such a statement in order to comfort Quinn of all people is a pretty big deal.  

Daria does have an odd bonding moment with Jake though when he takes her to a marketing conference as his plus one.  While on the plane, Jake stresses that he should be using this time to get to know his daughter, while Daria confesses that in spite of all of Jake's insecurities she wants to tell him that he is a hero.  She doesn't, but it's still awfully sweet. 

Daria and Jane

Here's the biggie of this season.  Daria and Jane's friendship suffered a blip when Jane began seriously seeing Tom Sloane at the end of season 3.  Jane is still dating Tom during season 4, and Daria is still annoyed.  

In fact, an argument about Tom prompts Daria to work with Jodie on a class project, while Jane works with Brittany.  This isn't really a bad thing.  Jodie is actually a fantastic foil for Daria.  She is just as intelligent if not more so than Daria, and a lot more socially well adjusted.  However, Jodie eventually drops her father's name in order to get favor in their project.  Daria rebukes her for this, only to come back later and relent that she was being unfair to Jodie.  Jodie forgives her, but it is also pointed out that the only reason Daria is even working with her is because she is mad at Jane.  Which is true.  

Now, I failed to mention this confession that Daria makes during "Psycho Therapy": 

"I'm so defensive that I actively work to make people not like me, so I don't feel bad when they do."  Of course we know this, but for her to admit it is interesting.  Perhaps Jane's moving away from Daria emotionally is causing her to act cold to her friend, making it easy for Jane to dislike her.  

However, Jane's relationship with Tom is unevenly matched.  Her laid back artist lifestyle doesn't fit with his personality, and the two argue.  At one point, he runs into Daria in a crowd while looking for Jane.  Daria tries to lose him, but he follows her complaining a bit about Jane's flakiness.  Why would you complain to your girlfriend's best friend about her?  

Oh right.  

In spite of her unpleasantness towards him, Daria challenges Tom intellectually causing him to seek her out for conversation more and more.  Jane picks up on this.  So does Trent.  He even tells Daria that Tom is interested in her, but either Daria is too oblivious to realize this, or her opinion of herself is so low that she doesn't believe it.  

In "Dye, Dye, My Darling", Jane strong arms Daria into dying tiger stripes into her hair.  "The Lady or the Tiger?  Now you can have both."  Daria insists that Quinn would be a better candidate for this job, but Jane won't hear of it.  Of course, when the hair turns out horribly, Jane accuses Daria of trying to make her look bad so that she can steal Tom.  Eventually she apologizes after Trent points out that asking Daria for cosmetic help was something Jane should have known was a bad idea.  Perhaps Jane was just looking to pick a fight.  However, Jane asks Daria if she and Tom have ever made out.  Daria replies, "Can you imagine me making out with anyone?  Ever?"
Daria pays a visit from the "Bad Idea Bears".

But later on that night, Tom comes to Daria's house to complain about a fight with Jane- and they kiss.  

While Daria gives a flat, "damn", to express her disappointment with herself, a second kiss occurs. 

Confused and torn, she seeks out Helen for advice.  Funny.  I would have thought that Aunt Amy would have been her first call, but in the words of Betty Draper-Francis (of Mad Men), sometimes a girl needs her mother.  Helen is a good listener, but she doesn't do anything to advise against a relationship with Tom.  I half wonder if Helen is just so thrilled to see her daughter interested in anyone.  She does urge a confession to Jane.

The next day, in front of their lockers, Daria draws a crowd and admits that she is a big skank and did in fact kiss Jane's boyfriend.  Sigh.  

My problem with Tom

I have no issue with a romantic interest for Daria.  In fact I like the idea at this point.  Here is the issue. Before the kiss, Daria yells at Tom, accusing him of ruining the one good and true friendship she has ever had.  He goes on the defensive asking what he has to do with her anger.  Well, duh, Tom.  Throughout the season, Tom gravitates towards Daria.  You can see his feelings changing and growing, but what kind of person would go for his girlfriend's socially inept best friend when he finds their relationship on the rocks?

I felt that he knew exactly what he was doing, even if flirting with Daria began as a way to lighten the mood.  However, the minute things were going south with Jane, he should have been hands off her friend.  Instead he pursues Daria and feigns ignorance as to why she should be upset that he wants to dump Jane for her.  It's called, "friendship" asshole.  It's called being loyal to people you love.  Perhaps if Tom knew this, he might have some friends from his fancy prep school instead of hawking his soon to be ex's best friend.  

The whole idea of Daria ending up with Jane's ex plays out well over the fall special, which I will eventually post about.  However, Tom is just sort of a manipulative, yet flat character.  Daria is a girl in transition.  If she were to risk a relationship with the most important ally she has ever had, Tom should have been worth risking it for.  And he just wasn't

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Season 3, a bag of mixed nuts.

Daria! The Musical, was the first episode of the third season on Hulu Plus.  Seriously.  There is a musical episode of Daria, and I remember liking it a lot when it first aired.  I still liked it 15 years later, and so did Thoth.  Oddly enough, according to the interwebs, this episode actually aired mid season.  I wonder why Hulu changed it.

Another morning in the 'burbs.
It was silly as most musicals are, but had some great laugh out loud lines.  An interaction between Jake and Trent had us laughing for days.  The plot was basically that a hurricane was blowing into Lawndale (Thoth then researched where the series took place, and it was supposedly conceived to be a suburb near Baltimore.  That puts Lawndale on the east coast near us!).  Somehow Jane and Daria get trapped on the roof of the school with Kevin and Brittney.

The songs aren't show stoppers, but Jake has a little diddy called "Dammit!", which is pretty catchy.  

Anyway, there is a whole bunch of weird episodes in this season.  Some are surreal, and some date the series (references to Titanic, X-Files, and the like).  There are also some great episodes with really good character development.  Daria begins to show cracks in her steely facade, and she and Quinn begin to develop a strange camaraderie.  We finally meet the entire Lane family. Hints that Jake and Helen are having some marital issues are present, and the whole "why Trent and Daria would never work" issue is addressed.

Also, Sandi's casual bullying of Quinn becomes more prominent.  It is clear that she sees Quinn as a threat and begins to use her influence over the fashion club girls to embarrass her.

Episodes as listed on Wikipedia:
Through a Lens Darkly"February 24, 199930128
Daria gets contact lenses for an upcoming driver's test, but finds the contacts too painful to wear—and doesn't want to go back to wearing glasses.
"The Old and the Beautiful"March 3, 199930229
During Volunteer Week at Lawndale High, Daria, Kevin and Brittany read for senior citizens. Kevin and Brittany are a hit while Daria becomes depressed because the seniors don't like listening to her voice. Meanwhile, the Fashion Club collects clothing donations to help homeless people, but decides only to accept "fashionable" clothing.
"Depth Takes a Holiday"March 10, 199930330
Daria meets two mysterious strangers who are on a secret mission, and need her help. Quinn becomes seriously disturbed when she suspects Jake and Helen of trying to have another baby.
"Daria Dance Party"March 17, 199930431
Quinn tries to organize the school dance, but instead enlists Jane's help. Jane organizes a Jackson Pollock Tribute dance, which Quinn gets huge credit for. Meanwhile, Jane and Daria meet two guys who seem nice but have a rather unnerving family secret.
"The Lost Girls"March 24, 199930532
Val, a twenty-eight year old editor of a teen magazine who acts like a teenager, visits Daria after reading her essay.
"It Happened One Nut"July 7, 199930633
Quinn and Daria reluctantly get jobs at the mall by Helen's instruction. Daria ends up working at a nut stand alongside Kevin, and Quinn begins working at a pet shop.
"Daria!-The Musical"February 17, 199930734
In this musical episode, the town anxiously prepares for an upcoming rainstorm.
"Lane Miserables"July 14, 199930835
The rest of the Lane family all move back home, forcing Jane and Trent to temporarily move into Daria's house and Daria to face her crush on Trent.
"Jake of Hearts"July 21, 199930936
Jake suffers a heart attack during dinner, and his judgmental and emotionally abused mom comes to stay with him. Meanwhile, Lawndale High is overrun by two obnoxious radio DJs, and Daria comes up with just the right thing to say to deal with both sets of idiots.
"Speedtrapped"July 28, 199931037
Daria finally gets her driver's license but then soon must drive to a nearby town to get Mystik Spiral and Jane out of jail for a traffic violation. The journey proves to be rough when Quinn tags along, demands that they pick up a hitchhiking cowboy and blows the bail money on shopping.
"The Lawndale File"August 4, 199931138
Daria and Jane suspect there is "alien activity" going on at Lawndale High after Mr. DeMartino gets arrested, government agents visit the school to look for "different" people, and people begin to think Daria and Jane are "atomic Communists".
"Just Add Water"August 11, 199931239
Lawndale High sets up a casino cruise night, where Quinn is worried that her date may have stood her up, Mr. DeMartino struggles with a gambling addiction, Jake gets seduced by his client's wife (who also tries to seduce Mr. O'Neill), and Daria and Jane try to get some sleep after staying up all night to watch a Sick, Sad World marathon.
"Jane's Addition"August 18, 199931340
Jane starts dating a guy named Tom, who Daria believes may destroy her friendship with Jane. They struggle through a joint class project made worse by Trent's laziness and Daria's realization that Trent may not be for her. Note: This episode is related to the band's name Jane's Addiction.


So, to start off, let's list the throwaway episodes.

The musical is fun, but it doesn't really advance the plot much.  I call this one a win, but it is sort of a toss off.

Depth Takes a Holiday is a really dumb episode that makes so sense. The personification of St. Patrick's Day and Valentine's day come to Lawndale to recruit Daria to find Christmas, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day, who have abandoned Holiday Island to join a band with Trent.  What?  This wasn't even a dream sequence.  The writers took a sanity holiday here.  The Lost Girls is just meh.

The Lawndale Files is a so so episode, where immigration agents come to the school to talk about "strange behavior" and half the school begins to suspect that Daria and Jane are aliens.  They, however, think everyone else is acting strangely.  In this episode, Quinn begins dressing in a black turtleneck and bouree.  Thoth immediately assumed that she was trying to conceal a hickey, but I argued that it wasn't her M.O..  In the end I was right.  The turtleneck was to cover a neck pimple, which Sandi not so subtly tells everyone in the school.

But what works in this season outweighs the dumb and dated episodes by far.

Vanity and Insecurity:

Through a Lens Darkly, opens with Helen teaching Daria to drive.  After almost hitting a dog due to her glasses obscuring some of her peripheral vision, Helen suggests that Daria get contacts.  Of course, our heroine takes this as a sign that her mother wants her to change her appearance.  Then again, maybe Daria does want to change?  Are her glasses part of her identity?  When talking to Jane doesn't help, she actually attempts to ask Quinn her opinion, which is a predictable disaster.  Finally, Daria calls her aunt Amy, who also wears glasses.  She admits to Amy that she doesn't want to be vain, but Amy assures her that if she looks in the mirror at all during the day, she is already a little vain.  With encouragement from the aunt she respects, Daria gets contact lenses, only to discover that they don't agree with her eyes.  But all the compliments (especially from Trent) on her new look had been somewhat flattering.  The next day when the lenses prove too difficult to apply, she opts for no glasses and no contacts.  Basically, Daria does care about her image.  Bad or good.  She doesn't want to be superficial like her sister, but she wants to be accepted.  She is afraid that her choice to choose blindness over her looks destroys everything she stands for.  Strangely enough, Brittney delivers some words of encouragement that allows Daria to don the glasses once more.

The Old and the Beautiful, is one of my favorite episodes.  Period.  During a week of public service, students are required to sign up for volunteer work.  Daria picks reading to seniors in the old age home. Up against Brittney's bouncy personality, Daria's monotone voice depresses her charges.  In the end, she is assigned to read to a deaf person, which at first insults her, but when the woman begs her not to go because she has a "lovely voice", Daria is touched and remains to read with this woman after the week of service is over.

Meanwhile, the fashion club is trying to gather clothes for the homeless, but they can't seem to grasp the idea that it doesn't matter what styles they gather.  The homeless need clothes, even if they are out of fashion.  At points, Quinn begins to point out to Sandi that they shouldn't be so picky with donations.  Sandi retaliates with some jabs towards Quinn that make her drop the argument.

The story of Daria and the deaf woman is just really touching.  At a point, she tries to work with Brittney to mimic her voice.  Of course this doesn't work that well, and a scene where a man unplugs his life support in order to have a nurse remove Daria from his room is both funny and a little sad.  Working with a woman who can't hear, but wants companionship gives Daria the confidence to share some of her original prose.  Also, there is a great dialogue between Brittney and one of the elderly woman who claims that she used to look just like her.  "EWWWW!"

In Daria Dance Party, Sandi cons Quinn into agreeing to plan a school dance, only to abandon her and take the rest of the fashion club with her.  It seems that Sandi has some issues with school dances, and sees this as a good opportunity to take some aggression out on her rival.  Though Stacey attempts to stand up to Sandi insisting that Quinn had some good ideas, Sandi manages to scare her into abandoning her to work alone.  Furthermore, Sandi plans a party on the same night of the dance in order to ensure that none of Quinn's peers will support her.  Not willing to do this on her own, Quinn bribes Daria and Jane to take over her duties.  Jane turns the dance into a Jackson Pollock themed party, and it is a hit.  Quinn gets all the credit and Sandi's party is a bust.  The boys sneak out to go to the dance to see Quinn.  In the end, two cute twin boys from another school chat up Jane and Daria.  They almost agree to a date, until they discover that the boys are cousins of school creeper, Charles "Upchuck" Ruttheimer.

Also, there was a moment when two boys tried to slow (and close) dance with Quinn.  Yes, the physical contact freaked her out.

Finally, in It Happened One Nut, Daria and Quinn get jobs (as per Helen's demand), at the local mall.  Working at a roasted nut stand with Kevin seems awful enough, until Daria spots Trent approaching the stand, while she is wearing an embarrassing squirrel hat.  In a "not as clueless as he seems" move, Trent realizes that his presence embarrasses her, and decides to stay away.

I really loved Trent in this episode!  He was kind of a gentleman.

Why Daria and Trent could never work:

Trent has been the main object of Daria's affection thus far.  Ted (the home schooled kid in season 2) had a chance after she let her guard down, but that didn't last his recruitment by the "popular" crowd.

Trent leaves her tongue tied.  As time goes on, Daria is more comfortable interacting with him throughout more than mumbling at him, but could it grow into a relationship?  Nope.

So let's start with Lane Miserables.  All of the dysfunctional Lane siblings find their way back to their home in Lawndale.  This includes their father, who apparently is some sort of travel photographer?  Anyway, This is the only time thus far we have met Jane and Trent's mother, Amanda.  Her flowy hippie attitude ensures that the rest of the group will walk all over one another making everyone miserable.  When Jane takes the time to criticize her mother's lax attitude towards her older children, Amanda suggests that they have to find their own way, pointing out that Trent lived in a tend in the yard for a while until he was ready to come home.  Trent later admits that from his point of view, he was waiting for someone to come get him.  Ouch.

So, Jane elects to stay at Daria's until this all blows over.  Hearing that Trent will be sleeping in his van, Helen suggests that he also sleep at their house, eliciting a high pitched "Eep!" from Daria.  Unable to concentrate with the object of her affections in the house, Jane teases her slightly.  Eventually, Trent walks into Daria's bedroom, and this happens:

TRENT!  What are you doing?  I called you a gentleman a few paragraphs ago!

Thanks, Dali Quinn.
Daria keeps her cool, and the two "bond" over the differences between Huckleberry Finn and Huckleberry Hound.  Right before Trent's date Monique appears at the front door.  (Initially Helen assumed the door was for Quinn, exclaiming, "I really don't know my children!")  So, after what seemed to be progress, Daria watches Trent leave with another girl.  Jane assures her that she is better than Monique, while Quinn gives some sage advice of her own:

I wonder how much of the next two seasons were planned at this point, because this could be some serious foreshadowing.

"But we need that money for Trent Jr.'s very thick glasses!"
Quinn also tells her sister that it helps to envision what you want as a confidence builder.  Quinn imagines a future where a man waits on her hand and foot.  Daria decides to imagine life with Trent.
Her fantasy includes coming home from a second job to find a potbellied Trent on the couch lamenting about the failure of Mystik Spiral.  The two argue about lack of funds and the fact that Trent slept through their wedding ceremony.  Back in the real world, Daria admits she might have gotten "over something.  Until Trent returns home torn up by a break up with Monique.

"Daria!  You are the best thing that ever happened to me!"

He admits they are wrong for each other and jokes that if Daria was a few years older, maybe they could date.  (TRENT!  WHAT THE HELL?)  And then Daria reworks her fantasy to look more like this:

Well, at least she's gaining a bit more confidence, but this means the crush is back on.


But Trent's mystique is starting to fall.  In Speedtrapped, Daria sneaks a look at his poetry journal, which is terrible.  The poetry, not the fact that she violated his privacy.

In The Lawndale Files, Jane and Daria catch Trent composing terrible music to use for a jingle in a local commercial.

Finally, Jane's Addiction leads Daria and Jane to ask Trent for help in a school project.  He needs to create a 30 second musical clip to use in a video.  Daria's deadline conscious attitude clashes sharply with Trent's laid back, "An artist must work when inspiration hits" personality.  He is always telling her to take it easy, but she wants results.  Ultimately (and unsurprisingly), Trent flakes on the project.  He does feel badly though, and makes a move to end any chance of a romance between them at this point.  Asking to take her out for pizza, Trent subtly tells Daria that is was probably a bad idea for them to get together (on this project).  She laments that Trent made a commitment to Jane and her deadline, but Trent explains that commitments mean something different for him and you can't force inspiration.  The two leave it on good terms though, and Trent gives her a kiss on the cheek.  Once again, a gentleman.

Really, there is just a key difference in lifestyle.  The Lanes grew up in a mellow hands off household. Daria and Quinn have parents who interact with them and worry how well they know who their daughters are.

Helen and Jake

Lane Miserables doesn't just visit the Lane's dysfunctional home life, but suggests that Helen and Jake have some communication issues.  Helen chastises Jake for not knowing enough about their daughters ("This parenting stuff is hard!").  Helen isn't much better in that sense.  The two both try to pump Jane for information about Daria, who usually shuts her parents out.  Jane agrees to three questions each.  Helen's are the more personal ones.  Is she depressed?  On drugs?  Having sex? ("The last one was too easy, can I have another?")  Jakes are more comically out of touch.  How old is she?  How tall?  What's her favorite color?  ("The last one was too easy, can I have another?")

But, not only is there a lack of communication with their children, but with one another.  As we've seen in previous seasons, the two are "frisky", but Helen is a real aggressive go getter, and Jake spends more time lamenting his miserable childhood than actually acting.

In Speedtrapped, Helen and Jake head off to a retreat to work on their marriage.  This becomes more of a theme in the following season, but it's a heads up that there is a strain on their relationship.  Other than a time when the two are literally hit with cupid's arrow (Depth Takes a Holiday), there are some apparent issues.

Jake of Hearts introduces Jake's mother, who failed to protect he and his brother's from his father's emotional abuse.  After a minor heart attack, Jake asks for her to come and help take care of him.  His mother is cold to Helen and insults Daria on a regular basis.  She also repeatedly tells Quinn that she is too pretty to have to study and get a job, as Jake's heart attack briefly kindles a desire to study medicine in the fashionista.

Finally, Just Add Water sees the couple chaperoning a high school cruise, which somehow includes gambling.  Helen's competitive nature leads her to abandon Jake in order to show up Ms. Li, Lawndale High's opportunistic principal.  While Helen is getting her predatory skills on, a desperate housewife tries to put the moves on Jake.  Of course, Helen is too wrapped up in her desire to beat Li to care when he tries to tell her.

Daria and Quinn

A few instances of the sisters looking to one another for advice occur in this season.  First, (as I mentioned) Daria actually asks Quinn's advice on the contact lens matter.  Something she regrets at once, but it was interesting that she would concede to do so.

Second, Quinn gives Daria the dating advice when Trent leaves with Monique.  Notably, she tells her sister that all she lacks is confidence, which is kind of an weird thing to say to someone she doesn't even admit to being related to in public.

Third, Just Add Water, brings Quinn into new territory as she is stood up for the first time.  When she meets a male model, he agrees to take her to the cruise as a date.  (Seriously, was statutory rape not a thing in the 90's?  How are all of these 20 something men hitting on 15 year old Quinn, and not getting in trouble?  Also, how do Helen and Jake allow her to go on these dates?) The model fails to pick her up, causing Sandi to pounce, making sure everyone on the boat knows that Quinn's date left her in the lurch.

Devastated, Quinn finds her sister and asks her how to deal with people saying bad things about her?  Daria reluctantly tells her sister to pretend it doesn't bother her.

Money well spent.
Speedtrapped sees the girls on a road trip to bail Trent and Jane out of jail, when they get in trouble for
a traffic violation.  With their parents away, Quinn elects to join her sister instead of hanging out with the fashion club.  She doesn't want to miss any zany adventures.  Quinn hinders more than she helps.  She convinces Daria to pick up a hitch hiker (a singing Cowboy named Travis), who she eventually gives some of the bail money to.  She spends the rest on a cute cowgirl outfit for her.

The two end up at a cowboy bar, where Quinn tries to use her looks to beg for money.  Eventually Daria uses a Conway Twitty quote that she heard from Travis, and the cowboys all agree to chip in to replace the bail money.  In the end, the Lanes are free and all is well.  Daria and Quinn admit that they make a good team.  However, Daria responds to Quinn's labeling her as "timid" by speeding up to run over Travis' luggage when they see him on the road once again.  I would totally watch a spin-off where the Morgendorffer girls ride around in Trent's van solving crimes Scooby-doo style.


Daria and Jane

The end of this season's Jane's Addiction, introduces a pivotal (and polarizing) character.  Tom Sloane.
Yeah, keep smiling.  Jerk.
 After meeting Jane at a Spiral show, the two begin to date, and Jane leaves Daria in behind in order to spend more time with him.  This is admittedly a shitty thing to do, but I can't say it isn't realistic of girls that age.

As noted, Daria is resentful at anything that takes Jane's attention away from their friendship.  Tom is a big speed bump.  The more Jane sees him, the more she blows off her friend.  The more she blows Daria off, the more Daria grows bitter.  Her acid tongue gets the worst of her in several moments.

Tom tries to assure Daria that he is not there to break up their friendship, and attempts to gain some acceptance from her.

However as we will see, Tom will actually shake their friendship to its core.  Just not in the way Daria assumes.  

blog design by