by pat howard


In DVD Wish List on February 12, 2010 at 10:36 am

Picture it: Lawndale, 1997.

“I don’t have low self-esteem,” sardonic student Daria Morgendorffer says. “I have low esteem for everyone else.”

For five seasons and two TV movie sequels, Daria sat in detached judgment on everything and everyone around her. Outshone by her cheerleading sister, misunderstood by her harried parents, Daria sought solace with her artsy best friend, Jane. A spinoff of MTV’s Beavis and Butt-head, Daria acknowledges its heritage both as a product of the ’90s animation boom and MTV’s evolution beyond music. Compared to what passes for programming at MTV (which this week dropped “Music Television” from its logo), Daria, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, reads like classic literature. That (and its heavy reliance on pop music instead of a score) has been part of the holdup on a DVD release.

A salient time capsule of adolescent apathy, Daria was a dark and bitter twist on My So-Called Life, the heir to a genre that always seems to exist ahead of its time. Though the Daria-Tom-Jane triangle dragged down the final seasons, Daria deftly delved into just enough emotional authenticity that we understood the ‘dead inside’ exterior was a coping mechanism. Daria was anyone who’s ever been the new kid, or a conscientious objector (especially to high school tropes).

DVD status: Forthcoming. MTV/Paramount has announced a complete series collection, including all 65 episodes and both movies, as well as bonus material. The set is slated for a May 11 release; I know what I want for my birthday.

Prognosis: Laughter/pain. Though it’s safe to assume there were some musical sacrifices, it’s about time this title saw the light of day.


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