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Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

3WA 2017 #26: Daria

Cartoon sitcoms about dysfunctional households with wacky characters come and go in the American television landscape. Unless it’s The Simpsons, which apparently will air new seasons until the heat death of the cosmos. Anyway. Here’s a show where the laughs are still good but the soundtrack is broken.

What is it?

Daria is a sitcom-style cartoon which ran for five 13-episode seasons (and two “movies”) on MTV, oddly enough.

What kind of story is it?

The title character and her family move to a new town, which means attending a new school. Hilarity ensues, especially when sarcasm is deployed. There’s even some character growth, can you believe it?

Yes, even the obnoxious sibling gets SOME character development.

Why do you like it?

This one’s mostly for the laughs, with a side order of astute social commentary plus a dash of satire. It’s snarky through and through. Characters bounce off of one another in continually-entertaining fashion.

A portrait of the artist and her doofy brother.

One could say that Daria makes looking back on the high school years much, much more entertaining than actually looking back on real high school memories could ever be.

What might one not like about it?

It is (mostly) a high school sitcom. Look, I normally hate sitcoms so I understand if anyone wants to sit this one out.

There’s also the slight matter of the generic musical cues. See, when the show originally aired on MTV, they could just sprinkle in snippets of various hit songs airing at the time. Nobody considered that there might be any pesky issues such as “securing rights for distribution.” Who would want DVDs of a silly cartoon, anyway? Ahem. So, all later syndication and the eventual DVD release had to replace the musical cues with off-the-shelf stock material. Most of the time it’s not noticeable, but every now and then the results are a bit weird.

Maybe you won’t notice because you didn’t watch it first-run with the original musical bits, though. Who knows?

Star-crossed nitwits, the jock and his cheerleader.

And then we have to talk about the relationship drama. Midway into the fourth season and continuing through the rest of the show’s run, Daria ends up embroiled in a boyfriend-drama situation. While this does give rise to some of the best moments in the show, in general it’s kind of… meh. You’ve been warned.

Other thoughts about it?

While the setting of the show and the antics of its characters are dialed up a bit from normal reality, one thing that’s firmly grounded about Daria is its thoroughgoing cynicism. The shallow-and-pretty people end up winning. Nobody gets a happily-ever-after. Authority figures are usually selfish jerks. And so forth.

Weirdly enough, that’s part of the show’s appeal. That, and the “Sick Sad World” bumpers. Gotta love those.

“Are fish using our oceans as their own private toilets?! On the next… Sick Sad World.”

Where can I watch it?

Services like iTunes, Amazon Video, and Google Play have it available for streaming for a modest fee, or you can buy the DVD boxed set.

1 Comment

  1. … really?

    Are you absolutely sure we’re related?

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