The people of Lawndale just don't get Daria Morgendorffer. She's cool with that. See, Daria was born alienated, and now she's just trying to make it through high school with as little human contact as possible. Popularity, friends, activities... whatever. Daria lacks enthusiasm, but she makes up for it with sarcasm. Includes all five seasons plus both movies!
Turns out that Clarissa did not explain it all, like what a sick sad world it is, how much student life sucks, and how the notion that it is great to be young is a storybook fantasy. Daria, which aired on MTV between 1997 and 2002, does not paint a rosy picture, but this so-called outcast for whom suburban life "is one smart-ass joke" gave sardonic voice to the disaffected. "I'm not miserable," Daria states, "I'm just not like them." She's not kidding. Though she's referring to the "interesting idiots" she suffers none too gladly at Lawndale High School, she could well be talking about the women normally paraded on MTV, the hedonistic spring break partiers, serial daters, spoiled sweet sixteeners, and tabloid tarts like Tila Tequila. And then there's Daria, an animated (just barely) character who after five seasons and two movies (both included in this eight-disc set) managed to survive high school with her sense of self unbowed and uncompromised. Daria came a long way, baby. Before she got her own series, she was a recurring character on Beavis and Butt-head, a brainy foil for the two heavy metal imbeciles, whose pet name for her was "Diarrhea." Daria relocated her to Lawndale and introduced her self-absorbed yuppie parents and her airhead, popularity-obsessed younger sister. It also gave her a best friend and kindred misanthropic spirit, Jane Lane. Their deadpan and sarcastic banter has lost none of its incisive edge. The broadly drawn high school stereotypes--vapid cheerleaders, fashion-plate mean girls, corruptible administrators, empty-headed jocks--seem unworthy of their contempt. But the series really hit satiric pay dirt when it addressed "profound and fundamental moral issues of life," such as one episode in which Jane joins the track team out of spite, but becomes a track star, alienating Daria, who is not above enjoying some of the perks of Jane's newfound popularity. When all reverts back to, for want of a better word, normal, Daria remarks, "The system continues, you haven't redeemed yourself, and we're ostracized anyway… Hey, they really are preparing us for the real world." Daria comes to DVD with 99 percent of the original music changed due to rights issues, regrettable, but that shouldn't be a deal breaker, especially for those making Daria's acquaintance. The special features almost compensate. They include an animatic version of the pilot episode "Sealed with a Kick," a series retrospective featuring series creator Glenn Eichler and key members of the voice cast, Daria and Jane episode intros, and a Top Ten video countdown hosted by the duo (videos not included). --Donald Liebenson