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'Daria: 20 Years Later' is a Little Depressing

Updated on August 29, 2018
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Ash has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.

La-la, la, la-la.
La-la, la, la-la.

Daria was an adult cartoon that aired in the 90's, created by Glenn Elchler and Susie Lewis Lynn. It was a spin-off from Beavis and Butt-Head (the best thing to come out of it, in fact) and ran on MTV from 1997 to 2002.

Daria, for those who don't know, was a depressed, sarcastic teenager who spoke in a monotone, was witty and hilarious, and didn't give a single shit. She was one of many feminist female characters to emerge in the 90's, a girl who spoke her mind, told it like it was, and took no BS from anyone.

The show delivered a lot of moments of honesty. In fact, sometimes it was a little too honest, which is where the depressing parts come in.

2017 was the twentieth anniversary of Daria (God, I feel old). To celebrate, Susie Lewis got together with the character designer, Karen Disher, and created the main characters the way they would be today.

When I read the article, I found it depressing that most of the characters had very down-to-earth futures where they were still struggling along. True to the show's ethos, the characters of Daria twenty years later had very realistic, very relatable lives.

I think I was most depressed by the creators' vision for Trent.

Trent was the brother of Jane Lane, Daria's best friend on the show. Daria had a huge crush on him in the earlier seasons, to the point that being around him made her break out in hives.

He was a struggling musician and a pretty cool guy. You really sympathized with him and what he was trying to accomplish by pursuing his dreams, especially when some episodes showed him worrying about whether or not he was wasting his time.

I think everyone who pursues a dream has those same doubts and fears, which is what makes Trent so relatable to most teens, who dream of hitting it big but know the reality of that is unlikely.

Trent was so likable and was trying so hard, I wanted him to succeed. According to the creators, he doesn't. Instead, he becomes a bartender and spends his life struggling to pay the bills while doing the occasional gig.

I thought it was very in-character and the perfect future for Trent because it made perfect sense: he wasn't a great musician. In fact, a lot of his songs on the show were hilariously bad. But he kept trying to do what he loved anyway, so there was something to admire in that, and it made seeing him ultimately fail a little sad.

Still, Trent's not really a failure just because his dreams didn't come true. He has a steady job, a sister who loves him, and a friend in Daria, who has since gotten over her crush and probably sees him as a brother figure now.

Put in that perspective, things turned out pretty decent for Trent. I guess I was saddened by his future because I was rooting for him to live his dreams all these years.

Daria's annoying sister, Quinn, winds up divorced with three bratty kids. She makes a living with a Youtube blog that teaches people about cooking recipes and makeup.

I thought it was pretty realistic and perfectly in character for Quinn. Quinn wasn't very smart and all she cared about in highschool was makeup and dieting. Given that a lot of people struggling to make ends meet can easily make a buck or two on Youtube these days, it only follows that a narcissistic single mom obsessed with her appearance would turn to such a "career."

For Quinn, being on camera with a thousand people hanging on her every word as she rambles about celebrity fashion no-noes is probably a dream come true, and again, it makes perfect sense for her character.

Still, I found it a little depressing that she wound up a single mom. Anyone with a brain knows how hard that can be, so let's hope her ex is supporting her, at least.

"I may go pop."
"I may go pop."

I decided that, for this article, I was only going to focus on the characters that depressed me. Brittney and Kevin, Jane, and Daria's parents all have it pretty decent, according to the creators. So let's skip right to Daria.

Watching the show as a future writer myself, I always sensed that Daria was going to be a writer of some sort, so I wasn't surprised to read her future bio and see that she winds up the only female writer on a late-night talk show.

This is totally in-character for Daria, who wouldn't let sexist BS stop her from entering the writing room and sharing her ideas. Daria is also really hilarious, so male writers would be stupid to turn her away just for possessing a vagina.

According to the asshats at Adult Swim, women in the writing room create "conflict," so men discriminate and turn qualified women away from making a livelihood in order to avoid this "conflict."

Common sense time:

Women wouldn't "create conflict" if men didn't write sexist things.

The men are actually the ones creating the conflict, but just like Adam with the Tree of Knowledge, they are quick to point a finger of blame at the nearest person with a vagina.

Adult Swim and other male-dominated spaces basically just want to keep women out so they can be free to be as a grossly sexist as their widdle hearts desire. Pretty hilarious considering what a hit Daria was, while at the same time being funny as hell and treating its female characters like people.

I think the purposeful irony is lost on no one here, given that Daria only came into existence because MTV was underfire for sexism at the time after having ignored their female audience for quite a while. They created Daria to be a token, a way to prove they weren't a boy's club. She wound up being successful in her own right, almost like a huge middle finger to sexist men everywhere. So it's only fitting that she would be the only woman writer on a late night talk show.

Just looking at Daria's weary, lined face in the picture above, you can imagine the challenges the male-dominated writing room must pose her seering wit and sarcastic snark. But Daria is tough and can take it, especially being a person who once encouraged Trent to live his dreams no matter what.

In that light, Daria's future is actually pretty awesome. The depressing part is the fact that she wound up living alone with her cat, Godzilla, while occasionally signing up for an online dating site but otherwise remaining single.

Yes, single women can be perfectly happy, and Daria is a loner, so it makes sense that she'd be alone. But it leaves you wondering what the future looks like for her boyfriend -- now ex-boyfriend, I guess -- Tom.

I guess Godzilla is the only tomcat Daria needs (forgive me). And there's actually . . . nothing wrong with that.

© 2018 Ash


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