Tons of people would like to be considered the voice of their generation. Miley Cyrus is twerking at the chance. However, who would have thought that the 1990s could be summed up so perfectly by a cartoon. Daria, a spin-off of Bevis and Butt-Head, brought the right level of music, snark, and cultural commentary to embody the youth in the ’90s and early 2000s.
Daria Morgendorffer is a smart, sarcastic, and generally apathetic teenager. Her father, Jake, is a high-strung businessman, her mother Helen is a passive-aggressive workaholic, and her sister, Quinn, is a popular vapid teenager. Her only ally is her best friend Jane Lane and Jane’s brother, burnout musician Trent. She tries to deal with the idiots in school including Kevin the quarterback, cheerleader Brittany, and her deranged teacher Mr. DeMartino.
In the same vein as Bea Arthur, Janeane Garofalo, Wednesday Addams, and Aubrey Plaza, Daria has an acerbic wit, monotone, and an eloquent yet slightly twisted intelligence. Daria offers a thoughtful and cogent commentary on the bright colors, consumerism and entitlement of the Millennial generation. She and her friends have deliciously dark jokes at the expense of the stupidity, superficiality, and ignorance of the students around them and by extension the youth of America at the time.
The great thing about Daria is that no matter how dark the jokes get, the series still has heart. Despite the shortcomings of some characters, they all generally have good hearts. Sure, high school can suck, but luckily Daria says what we all wish we could say and lives in an environment where people aren’t as mean or as toxic as they can be in real life. It offers delightful escapist fiction where teenagers are smart, insightful, and life’s problems can be solved by a slice of pizza.
Sadly, a lot of the music is not available in syndication. The series was genius with its finger on the pulse of the pop music at the time. However, the series is still insanely addictive and offers an enjoyable experience worthy of a personal marathon.
The series lasted five seasons and included two made-for-TV movies. Luckily, all five seasons of the series are available on Hulu. Check out a mock trailer for a live action film starring Plaza.