After appearing as a minor character on MTV's animated Beavis and Butthead
, sardonic high schooler Daria
spun off into her own series in 1997. You could tell by the theme song that this would be no Beavis redux:
Excuse me...EXCUSE ME...You're standing on my neck!
Daria is a super-intelligent, anti-social, outcast student at bourgeois Lawndale High, negotiating horribly incompetent, glory-grubbing teachers and idiotic students.
Lke squeaky-voiced Kevin, a football quarterback in spite of his less-than-spectacular physique, and his ditzy girlfriend Brittany.
Home is no better. Mom Helen is a high-power attorney who is constantly taking phone calls from work, too busy to notice her daughters. Dad Jake is a high-strung moron with a traumatic past.
Sister Quinn is super-popular, a member of the vacuous Fashion Club, dating a dozen guys, including the trio Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie, afraid to let on how smart she actually is.
Daria has a gay-subtext buddy relationship with fellow outcast, the artistic Jane ("we'll always be freaking friends"), and there are a few other people in Lawndale who she can stand the sight of:
Trent, Jane's brother, an aspiring singer in the punk group Mystic Spiral (left, fan pic from Deviantart.com)
Tom, Jane's boyfriend, who Daria eventually steals (below).
Mack, the only black male student at Lawndale High (second below), and his overachieving girlfriend Jodie, are allies.
It's not just "aren't most people idiots" 1990s angst. Daria has many faults of her own -- she is judgmental, temperamental, inclined to jealousy, terrified of rejection. She often gets her comeuppance.
All of the characters are flawed, but they all demonstrate some redeeming traits, too, moments of kindness, anxiety about the future, sparks of humanity that shine through the craziness.
A lot of beefcake -- cute animated guys, that is. But rarely shirtless. These photos are all from the opening montage of the movie Is It Fall Yet?
Not a lot of gay content, other than the Daria-Jane subtext and the three inseparable J's.
An occasional homophobic aside:
Daria notes that in Medieval England, King John made Robin Hood his "special friend."
One of the J's suggests that Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet
is gay, and therefore should be banned from the locker room.
A predatory bisexual woman tries to convince Jane that she's a lesbian in order to get into her pants.
Not nearly as bad as other animated sitcoms of the period, or today. Have you seen Family Guy
Plus it is amazingly well-written, funny without being vulgar, and that rarest of creatures, sarcasm with a heart. Well worth getting ahold of the complete series on DVD (65 episodes and two movies).