Do you remember waaaaaay back when having a day off meant Saturday, and Saturday meant waking up at the crack of dawn to plop yourself in front of the television set with a bowl of sugar based cereal substitute to watch Saturday morning cartoons? Yeah, me neither. But that’s okay. Let’s get NOSTALGIC!
Do you remember that time, on Monday, March 3, 1997, when your family had to move, due to toxic uranium poisoning, to a new town, whose name was as exciting as mowing the lawn, and start over at a new school? And how your struggle with non-conformity and social awkwardness was chronicled in an animated format on a popular music television channel? No? Maybe I was thinking of “Daria,” which aired for the first time on this date.
“Established on Beavis and Butt-Head as the cynical smart girl who hung around with the brain-dead ‘heroes’ because (a) she found them perversely funny and (b) they were more fascinating to be around than the other smart kids in school, 16-year old Daria Morgendorffer was the very model of the modern misfit-by-preference.” The show revolved around the life of Daria and her best friend Jane as they navigated the nightmarish landscape that was being a teenager at Lawndale High School, all set to 90s pop/rock music ala MTV.
What I remember
Daria first aired on MTV during my senior year of high school. Ironically, I remember watching MTV at the time because I was becoming more interested in music while MTV (Music Television) itself was moving away from music, into other programming like Daria. Luckily, by the time I got to undergraduate college the following year, music became freely available through file sharing services like Napster, and it didn’t really matter that MTV had moved on from the one thing that it did: play music videos. (And I plead the 5th on whether or not I used Napster. Metallica might still be in the mood to sue people.) Daria was Saved By the Bell for smart people, with a side order of the directionless teenage angst that was the hallmark of being a teenager in the 90s.
Wow… Ok. One of the reviews I read for the DVD compilation of Daria mentioned how all of the music that was originally in the show had been stripped out due to MTV not wanting to license the music for distribution. It’s true. The DVD version of the series is eerily quiet compared to what I remember. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in that I’m certain at least half the songs were only playing in the background as product placement and had nothing to do with the show. In episode 1, “Esteemsters,” Daria and her sister Quinn start their first day of class at Lawndale High School, having moved from Highland due to uranium in the groundwater. A psychological exam determines that Daria is suffering from depression and she is placed into a special class for students with low self-esteem. Little did they know that the only thing she held in low esteem was everything and everyone around her.
20+ years later, Daria feels like what it was like to be a smart kid in the 90s, existing on the fringes of teenage society, subject to the whims of the popular cliques for acceptance and existence. Reality surely differed. Crank up some grunge rock, press the triangle button on the remote, and prepare to mope.
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More to come (live from what I remember about the 90’s!) as this story continues.
Kevin Wadlow is 100% a real human being and definitely not a murder of crows wearing a person suit. He is an avid reader of horror, tabletop gamer, and drinker of coffee who enjoys drawing things of strangeness along the way. When the zombie apocalypse comes, he will probably be eaten first after saying something about how he fully expected to go out like this.