In the late nineties, mTV answered the call for the need of a high school student that was not centered around the cheerleading squad or the football jocks with Daria. Luckily, I was in junior high, living in the Southern California suburbs around the debut of the series, which meant I was in the center of trends, cliques, and peer pressure.
Daria Morgendorffer was a new student to Lawndale High school, she had a sister who was über popular with the coolest groups in school (the fashion club), she had one best friend who was an art student, and had a crush on said best friend’s brother, Trent.
In a way, Daria was my favorite type of entertainment: it was smartly written, its references had multiple layers that went beyond a typical cartoon geared at young people such as having low self-esteem, eating disorders, and how to handle falling for the same person as your best friend. It was also. Very helpful for me when navigating the social scene in high school because it taught me it was okay to be different and not join a herd because it was cool. Daria was labeled a social outcast, but she also seemed like the most level-headed person on the entire show, therefore, teaching me that being weird or different was not a bad thing.
From a historical perspective, Daria was released around the time that strong female figures were taking on prominent roles in television shows and movies: Reality Bites (1994) was about a female generation-xer, who had to decide between a yuppie and a grungy guy; Before Sunrise (1995) was about an intellectual female as she engaged in a day-long conversation with an American college student on the streets of Austria.
Daria taught me the valuable lesson to always be honest with my own identity. It helped me navigate through my own social mazes throughout high school and college and I am very thankful it existed.
Watching cartoons can be life changing!
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kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, March 2, 2020
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