It should never be underestimated how many out of place, awkward, non-cheerleader girls Daria Morgendorffer got through high school in the late 90s and early 00s. Unapologetically cynical and apathetic, Daria opened our eyes to the idea that it wasn’t necessary to try to fit in. The only thing necessary in a Daria-approved life, in fact, is an impenetrable shield of sarcasm.
As a transfer student to Lawndale High, Daria became an instant outcast (just like at her previous school), while her sister, Quinn, immediately strikes a rapport with the popular girls of the Fashion Club, Sandy, Tiffany and Stacy. Daria quickly assumes she’ll adopt the loner position, but is surprised to find that, while forced to take a self-esteem class, there is another like-minded individual in her midst: Jane Lane.
Once Daria had found her partner in crime, everything seemed slightly more bearable–though only slightly. And then there was her unavoidable crush on Jane’s brother, Trent, to contend with. Not only did her amorous feelings toward him force her to acknowledge that she had feelings, but it also forced her to listen to Mystik Spiral’s music.
In between surviving the vapidity of high school and the student body itself, Daria tries to assuage her sorrows with pizza and Sick, Sad World. She’ll also find comfort in the occasional one-liner, like: “Sometimes your shallowness is so thorough, it’s almost like depth.” Teaching high school girls (and even those beyond it) how to cope with being the proverbial black sheep, Daria will always be an invaluable resource for inspiration on not compromising yourself merely to satisfy the dimensions of some preconceived mold (generally one that requires unnecessary amounts of enthusiasm).
Further, what’s most remarkable about Daria as a show is that it never intimates things will improve for Daria once she’s out of high school. The honesty in the hopelessness of change in terms of continuing to have to put up with the same sort of innocuousness is truly unprecedented in television. Perhaps we have Glenn Eichler to thank for this level of integrity.