Daria Morgendorffer


Daria Morgendorffer
Daria Morgendorffer
First appearance "Sign Here" [Beavis and Butt-head, 1993]
Last appearance Is It College Yet? (2002)
Created by Glenn Eichler
Susie Lewis Lynn
Mike Judge
David Felton
Portrayed by Tracy Grandstaff (voice)
Information
Gender Female
Occupation Freshman
Family Helen Morgendorffer (mother)
Jake Morgendorffer (father)
Quinn Morgendorffer (sister)

Daria Morgendorffer is a fictional animated character from MTV's animated series Beavis and Butt-head and its spin-off Daria. In 2002, Daria placed at number 41 on the list of the Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of all Time by TV Guide for her role in the two shows.[1] She was voiced in both incarnations by Tracy Grandstaff.

Contents

Conception and development

MTV senior vice president and creative director Abby Terkuhle explained that when Beavis and Butt-head "became successful, we ... created Daria's character because we wanted a smart female who could serve as the foil."[2] Terkuhle said that he added Daria "to put [Beavis and Butt-head] in their place."[3]

In Beavis and Butt-head

In Daria's first incarnation as a recurring character on Beavis and Butt-head, she formed an intelligent female foil to the two main characters. She went through three different outfits, had a stockier figure, and initially was a more expressive character; her iconic monotone voice would only develop over time. She would become more sardonic over time, but showed early on that she could hold her own against the two and could react fast to their antics.

In her first episode with them, "Scientific Stuff", she was forced to do a science class presentation with them and turned it to her advantage by using them as the presentation's experiment. In later appearances, she would alternate between being irritated by their antics and finding their stupidity to be amusing: in "Sprout", she specifically came over to watch them fail at planting seeds, and in "Walkathon" she got them to unwittingly pledge $100 apiece on a charity walkathon. In "Sporting Goods" she displayed three eye-popping gasps while Beavis and Butthead wear eye patches as athletic supporters, which is a dramatic contrast to her monotonous behavior in the later series. She lacked the passionate hatred for them that Principal McVicker and Coach Buzzcut had and was one of the very few characters that would willingly seek them out, but did not really believe there is any hope for them either as David Van Driessen had. On multiple occasions, she took it upon herself to explain simple concepts to them, such as informing them in "U.S. History" what graduation was (Beavis responded, "You mean, like...school ends?") and in "Sprout" that you put seeds in the ground.

In a Christmas Special, it is stated that Butt-head had been responsible for giving her a negative outlook on boys. Aside from that, she was one of the few characters that the duo never managed to drive crazy as they had with many other students and teachers. Butt-Head would sometimes treat her with some degree of respect, following her advice in "Sprout" and chuckling "Daria's cool!" after she asked Bill Clinton if "you were just jerking us around" on a campaign promise.

John J. O'Connor of The New York Times describes Daria "as sharp as B. & B. are dimwitted."[4] John Allemang of The Globe and Mail described Daria in Beavis and Butt-head "the prematurely wise girl who could be counted on to put their idiocy in perspective."[5] Beavis and Butt-head often call her "Diarrhea".[5][6]

In the final episode of series 7 when the boys were believed dead, Daria expressed the sentiments that "I guess it's sad they're dead" but they did not have very bright futures to look forward to.

Daria appeared frequently in the Marvel Comics adaptation of the TV show, and also got to appear on the cover of one issue and "answer" the fan mail in two others.[7] In Beavis and Butt-head Do America, she appears once throughout the film with a group of students, but does not have any dialogue.

Daria's own show would never mention Beavis and Butt-head except once, and only named Highland once. Despite this, it was frequently noted in media articles about the show that it was a spin-off from Beavis and Butt-head. In an "interview" on CBS Early Show on January 21, 2002, Daria was asked by Jane Clayson if she kept in touch with Beavis and Butt-head; she responded "I'd like to" but first they'd "have to figure out that when the telephone makes that funny sound, you're supposed to pick it up and say hello".[8]

According to a Rolling Stone interview with Mike Judge, Daria will not return to the new episodes of Beavis and Butt-head in 2011, but she will make a cameo in one episode. She was referenced in Drones during a music video when Beavis assumed she had commited suicide. However, Butt-head reveals that Daria didn't die, but just moved away with her family

In Daria

In the series Daria which followed Beavis and Butt-head, Daria remains bespectacled and plain. She is an unfashionably dressed, highly intellectual, seemingly cynical and sarcastic teenage girl who is portrayed as an icon of sanity in an insane household in an equally insane upper middle class suburb. She resides with her vacuous, fashion-obsessed younger sister Quinn and career-obsessed parents Helen and Jake. John Allemang of The Globe and Mail said that Daria is "both the disappointment of her overachieving parents and an embarrassment to her boy-crazy sister Quinn."[5]

David L. Coddon of the San Diego Union-Tribune described Daria as "the anti-cheerleader, the un-social climber, the jaundiced eye in a cartoon world of too much makeup and superficial crayon colors." Coddon added that Daria "may look like a misfit, but the catch is that Daria's the only character on the show who 'gets it.' It's everyone else who's a misfit."[9] Daria said in the first episode that she does not have low self esteem: she has low esteem of everybody else.[5]

Allemang said that in Daria, Daria "seems more tortured and neurotic, if only because it's more clear that the airheads have won."[5] Daria often talks to herself. Allemang adds "in a perky-teen world with its twisted values, soliloquies are the best hope of intelligent conversation."[5] In addition he said "There's nothing intrinsically wrong with Daria, just because she can't or won't hang out with the cool kids."[5] John J. O'Connor of The New York Times said that Daria has "a withering eye" towards her classmates.[4] Emily Nussbaum for Slate would praise the show for both having a character that many disaffected teenagers could relate to and for showing "the flipside of her principled withdrawal from the world: her crippling terror of rejection, a streak of ugly self-righteousness".[10] In a 2010 overview of the series, DVD Talk also praised the show's willingness to criticise its lead, as well as realistic character interaction and for being "hilarious".[11] Daria's deadpan tone and gloomy outlook makes the show's dry and sarcastic humor found very appealing mostly to teenagers.

Daria likes to watch the fictional television show Sick, Sad World.[4]

When the series began, Daria was 16 years old, she moved to Lawndale, and was a sophomore in high school, and was introduced in the school (this was not seen in any of the episodes)[citation needed]. When she graduated from high school in Is It College Yet?, she was 18 years old. According to the episode "Lane Miserables", her height is 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m).

During the series, Daria attends Lawndale High School, where on her first day in "self-esteem class" she meets Jane Lane, the artist and classmate who will be her first real friend and her best friend through the rest of her high school life. It also showed that Daria was susceptible to the same kind of crushes other teenage girls had, as through the series she got visibly nervous around Jane's older brother Trent, for which Jane often teased Daria. Daria briefly admits feelings for Trent to Cupid in "Depth Takes a Holiday," the third episode of Season Three.

Jane and Daria's strong friendship and mutual endurance of gloomy adolescence was a motif of the series, which survived despite Jane's boyfriend, Tom Sloane, becoming Daria's. Normally, they prefer to avoid engaging with the world more than necessary, but Daria's strong conscience and carefully guarded emotional insecurity often compels her to stand up to her world's idiocies with her distinctive wit and perception. She would also, often reluctantly, find herself giving advice and helping people.

Later episodes like "Partner's Complaint" would also show that she could be too unyielding and demanding of people; she would sometimes go too far with her blunt attitude and become genuinely unpleasant to people. While she was happy to avoid interaction for the most part, fear of losing Jane would cause her to verbally lash out at her friend and Jane's boyfriends ("See Jane Run" and "Jane's Addition"). In the final two series, she began her first romantic relationship with Tom Sloane. This was marked with difficulty, due both to differences in personality and Daria's issues with intimacy and a fear of becoming vulnerable; while Tom was the one who had to point out she almost wanted the relationship to fail ("Is It Fall Yet"), she would later open up about being afraid of intimacy ("My Night at Daria's"). Furthermore, the final regular episode ("Boxing Daria") had Daria come to a troubling epiphany that she was burdening her parents needlessly by being herself. However, her friends, and especially her parents, reassured her that fundamentally they were proud to know such an intelligent, principled and perceptive young woman.

Her relationship with her sister Quinn was mostly antagonistic, as it has been since infancy, but in Season 5, they started to become closer.

Movies

The first Daria movie, Is It Fall Yet?, gave the principal characters time apart from one another in parallel narratives which foreshadowed further changes in their relationships.

By the time of the finale movie Is It College Yet?, Daria's character has undergone noticeable growth. She chooses to attend Raft College, which may be a fictional version of Tufts.[citation needed] She graduates from Lawndale High, winning the Dian Fossey Award "for dazzling academic achievements in face of near total misanthropy", and crowning her acceptance speech with the assertion that "there is no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can't be improved with pizza".

Appearance

Daria wears rounded thick glasses, a green blazer, black pleated skirt, and combat boots. John Allemang of The Globe and Mail said "to surrender is to be normal, to sacrifice your brain in the rush to be popular and wear uncomfortable shoes that make your legs look hot. Daria, as always, keeps her integrity. She wears sensible shoes, and finds her intellectual reward in not being hot."[5]

Relationships

  • Jane Lane: Daria's best friend whom she met in a self-esteem class. Jane is a bit better adjusted socially than Daria, but shares the same dark appraisal of the world they live in. Jane is also more likely to risk interacting with others, often dragging Daria along.
  • Quinn Morgendorffer: Daria's younger sister. They constantly antagonize each other. Quinn is obsessed with beauty and popularity, while Daria does not attempt to attain either. When things get serious for Quinn, however, Daria (reluctantly) attempts to help her.
  • Trent Lane: Jane's older brother whom Daria for much of the series had a crush on. By the end of season three, she realized they could not really make things work; before that, in "Lane Miserables", she had tried to imagine her future with Trent and instinctively imagined him as an unemployed failure.
  • Brittany Taylor: A popular cheerleader who appears to view Daria as her friend, though Daria views her as an irritant and often makes derogatory comments to or about her. Daria will sometimes find herself helping Brittany, while Brittany will sometimes go out of her way to help Daria. She often mentions Daria's unpopularity or plain looks, but unthinkingly (as if they're simple facts) rather than maliciously.
  • Kevin Thompson: A popular football player and Brittany's boyfriend. Daria enjoys manipulating his stupidity like she did Beavis and Butt-head, and often insults him: he doesn't understand most of her insults. Despite this, he seems to view her as a friend, often seeking her advice (while unthinkingly bringing up her unpopularity at the same time), in "The Big House" and "Ill", being concerned for her welfare. In "Partner's Complaint", though, he panicked at the idea of hanging out with Daria for any length of time.
  • Jodie Landon: A friend of Daria's. She and Daria sometimes clash over Jodie's practicality and Daria's rigid idealism, or over Daria's misanthropic attitude. Despite their personality clashes, Jodie often starts conversations with Daria; in "Gifted", both girls admitted they sometimes wished they could be more like the other.
  • Tom Sloane: Daria's only boyfriend during the series. They were initially antagonistic, as Daria felt he would take Jane away from her. As a couple, they shared similar views on society and a lazy attitude, while Tom could occasionally prod Daria into taking action. Daria's unease with relationships and their differing social classes caused many problems, however, and the latter caused Daria to break off the relationship when it was clear they'd be going down different paths. They remained on friendly terms.
  • Fashion Club: Quinn's social circle who also dislike Daria; she views them with contempt. Generally, she tries to avoid them and vice versa.
  • Joey, Jeffy and Jamie: Near-identical in personality, Daria sees them as pathetic. They adore Quinn and constantly compete to get her affection.
  • Principal Angela Li: Daria dislikes the money-oriented school principal and frequently questions Li's intentions towards the school, such as when she allowed there to be a modeling workshop just for a kickback.
  • Beavis and Butt-head: Daria tolerated the duo more than did most others, and they respected her more than they did most others, as the boys respected most people not at all. Daria occasionally seemed to derive amusement from their stupidity. She lost contact with them after moving to Lawndale.

MTV "host"

During her run on MTV, Daria would narrate or "host" special events and shows, either with a real-life presenter or with Jane. She was part of the Cool Crap Auction in 1999, giving an overview of the goods for auction and talking "live" to the winner of one prize, answering machine messages recorded by her.[12] Daria and Jane also hosted MTV's Top Ten Animated Videos Countdown and two Daria Day marathons of their episodes; the Countdown and second marathon segments are included on the 2010 DVD release.

Cameos

Daria makes a brief cameo in the Drawn Together episode "Lost in Parking Space, Part Two". She is being tortured in the basement of a Hot Topic along with other cartoon characters. She has a nail being hammered into her eye and says, "This is men's fault", in her infamous monotone and is rather indifferent to the pain.[13] Also, at one point in the MTV animated series Undergrads, Gimpy is talking to his friends via webcam when a female hacker hacks into the video stream and edits Gimpy to look like Daria.

In late 2010, following the DVD release, Daria was licensed as a voice for Garmin and TomTom GPS systems; original putdowns and jokes were recorded.[14]

Reception

Carol A. Stabile and Mark Harrison, authors of Prime Time Animation: Television Animation and American Culture, said that "for the cerebral, writerly types who liked television Daria was the outcast she-hero who dared to say things they were too scared to say in their teenage years."[15] Van Toffler, then the general manager of MTV, said in 1998 that Daria "has an attitude about parents, school, and siblings that is common to the experiences of our audience. She is a good spokesperson for MTV... intelligent but subversive."[15] A 1997 The Nation article referred to Daria as "a 10th grade Dorothy Parker."[15] John J. O'Connor, a television critic for The New York Times, said that Daria "is every glorious misfit I ever knew."[4][15] Another critic praising the character said that she is like "a 50-year old deadpan Jewish comic in the body of a 16-year-old."[15] Jennifer Vineyard, a writer of My Life as Liz, said "Daria made it cool to be a smart chick." Vineyard added, "Just the presence of people or characters like Daria help make it cool to be yourself. There's a tendency for young girls to play dumb. Characters like Daria show you that you don't have to."[16]

Some commentators believed that the character's deadpan humor had too much morbidity for the teenage audience. A critic said that Daria uses her "omnivorous deadpan" contempt against other people, represented a variety of "living death", and was "a grim reaper in a dress" who was more dangerous than Marilyn Manson.[15]

References

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  1. ^ "TV Guide's 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time", CNN, July 30, 2002. Retrieved on October 29, 2009
  2. ^ "'Daria': Brainy = Zany in MTV's irreverent view of 'girl humor,'" Chicago Tribune TV Week, August 17–23, 1997. Retrieved on November 1, 2009.
  3. ^ Marin, Rick. "Comic Cretins." The New York Times. Sunday July 11, 1993. 2. Retrieved on Friday October 30, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d O'Connor, John J. "Teen-Ager's Scornful Look at Cuteness." The New York Times. Monday March 3, 1997. C16 New York edition. Retrieved on November 1, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Allemang, John. "Finally, a TV teen who comes close to feeling real FINE TUNING." The Globe and Mail. Friday March 19, 1999. D2, Television, The Arts Column. Accessed on LexisNexis. Retrieved on October 31, 2009.
  6. ^ Walters, Ben. "BEST CARTOON - TV CHOICES - ANTENNA EDITED BY BEN WALTERS; DARIA." The Express Newspapers January 17, 2001. Retrieved on LexisNexis. Retrieved on October 31, 2009.
  7. ^ "Daria on Beavis and Butt-head", Outpost-Daria.com
  8. ^ Transcript of CBS Daily Show "interview", Outpost-Daria.com
  9. ^ Coddon, David L. "Wearing her cynicism well, Daria is best-dressed in class." San Diego Union-Tribune. April 5, 2001. Retrieved on October 30, 2009.
  10. ^ Nussbaum, Emily, "Requiem for Daria: Daria slips into the Ghost World of great high-school drama", Slate.com, January 21, 2002
  11. ^ Daria: The Complete Animated Series review
  12. ^ Cool Crap Auction transcript
  13. ^ "Lost in Parking Space, Part Two" Drawn Together
  14. ^ http://www.navtones.com/daria-voice-for-gps.html
  15. ^ a b c d e f Stabile, Carol A. and Mark Harrison. Prime Time Animation: Television Animation and American Culture. Routledge, 2003. 186. Retrieved on November 1, 2009. ISBN 0415283264, 9780415283267.
  16. ^ Hanks, Henry. "'My Life as Liz' and the evolution of the MTV nerd." CNN. February 15, 2011. Retrieved on February 15, 2011.

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