If you spent any of your teen years in the late ’90s/early 2000s, you’re probably well acquainted with the wry and wonderful Daria Morgendorffer. The titular character of the MTV animated series Daria, a spin-off of Beavis and Butt-head which ran from 1997 to 2002, Daria was a straight-A student who was notorious for her hilariously dry one-liners and impatience for all the idiocy and sheep-like behavior around her while struggling to fit into a teenage world where she never truly comfortable.
Many of us, myself included, could relate to Daria so hard on so many levels that we count her high on the list amongst our other fictional heroines. In fact, some of us have even cosplayed as her recently for a ‘90s cosplay night at a video-game bar and made their BFF and husband dress as Daria’s BFF Jane Lane and her dreamy brother Trent Lane, respectively. Not gonna name any names here, but…OK, it’s me.
But I’m in good company. Some of my favorite celeb ladies like Aubrey Plaza and Katy Perry are also avowed Daria fans, because Daria and Jane are just such an iconic part of our teen years. Like, if Aubrey could really go ahead and make that Daria movie and cast Katy as Jane, that’d be great and my life would be complete. Please and thank you.
Without further ado, here are just a few reasons aside from her enviable wit that Daria Morgendorffer was and still is so worth looking up to, making her this week’s subject of #WCW.
She perfectly captured the awkwardness of being a teenager
From embarrassing parents and general family dysfunction, to fights with her best friend over things like guys and growing apart, to borderline insane teachers, to crushes on the bad boy (we all had a Trent at some point, didn’t we?), Daria was not only hilarious and idol-worthy – she was relatable. Without seeing her go through these traditional teenage experiences, I may have written her off as snobbish, but she really is just trying to fit in and survive. She goes through so much that we all did as teenage girls, including that need to be accepted, no matter how hard we pretended we didn’t care.
She didn’t try to downplay her smarts to impress a guy
Daria never changed who she was to try to make a guy like her. Sure she stepped outside her comfort zone to impress Trent a few times – namely by getting a belly-button ring and road-tripping to a musical festival that ended up being a bust – but she never compromised who she was at her core to gain the affection of anyone, including potential romantic interests. Maybe that was part of the reason she and Trent never worked out – because she chose herself. That is a beautiful message for teenage girls everywhere.
She was actually a pretty great big sister
The number of times Daria taught her younger sister, Quinn, a lesson is countless. When Quinn tried to take over Daria’s “smart girl” persona, Daria turned the tables and dressed like Quinn to show her it’s not nice to take something that’s not yours – even if that something never really seemed that great until it was threatened. Daria also covered for Quinn when she lied to their parents, babysat a couple of nightmare-ish children so Quinn could go out on a date, and even pretended she and Quinn weren’t related at school so the Fashion Club wouldn’t relieve Quinn of her vice-presidential duties.
For all the snark in the world, I’d say that’s a pretty solid older sibling.
She rolled her eyes at societal expectations of women’s bodies
Speaking of Quinn, Daria is the polar opposite of her sister on most stances, particularly when it comes to fashion and beauty standards. In the season-one episode “Too Cute,” she manages to persuade Quinn not to undergo plastic surgery from a surgeon who also claims she can “fix” Daria…by making her look exactly like Quinn, to the tune of $30,000 or something ridiculous.
Daria also had something to say when Quinn and her Fashion Club friends were watching a beauty pageant in the Morgendorffer living room — something along the lines of, “Oh, yes. I love wearing high heels with my bathing suit. And I never go swimming without my lip liner.” If you want to pair your bikini with platforms, have at it. But the idea that you have to? Laughs for days.
She enjoyed TV and pizza like the rest of us
There was rarely an episode where we didn’t see Daria tuning in to Sick, Sad World, which was basically a tabloid show about crazy stuff going on all over the world – most of which was probably made up. Think Bat Boy meets TMZ. Or something. But anyway, it’s nice to know that even though Daria was probably smarter than most of us, she still liked to veg out with something other than Kafka. It’s a good reminder that even the most responsibility-driven of us deserve some serious downtime.
I feel like every episode also included a scene of Daria and Jane at Pizza King, their most common hangout where other Lawndale High School students would often frequent as well. For all the insults hurled at her for thinking she was “better” than anyone else, she sure ate like everyone else and didn’t let Pizza King’s less-than-savory clientele keep her from her cheesy, tomato-y goodness. In fact, Daria loved pizza so much that, in a speech she gave at her high-school graduation, she stated, “There is no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can’t be improved with pizza.”
Well said, Daria. Well said.
[Image courtesy Nickelodeon]