MTV’s Cartoon Heroine Daria Morgendorffer

Photo via mtv.com

Photo via mtv.com

I know it’s a cliché at this point to say that Daria is an inspiration.  I mean, every brunette who wears glasses proudly boasts about her connection with the sardonic late 90s MTV heroine.  The entire point of the show was to make outsiders feel like there was someone out there who understood them.  As a shy, sensitive, introverted, socially awkward, yet thoughtful and perceptive kid, I instantly idolized Daria.  The character of Daria Morgendorffer seems like an unlikely icon for a generation of young women, given her origins.  Daria first appeared as a recurring character on one of the most male-centric shows in history, “Beavis and Butt-Head.”  According to Abby Terkuhle, MTV’s Senior Vice-President at the time, the character of Daria was created because they wanted “a smart female who could serve as the foil.”  The spin-off “Daria” premiered in 1997.  It became one of MTV’s highest rated shows and ran for five seasons.

Daria was unlike any character that had ever been on television, let alone MTV.  She was the antithesis of everything MTV promoted.  She was articulate, intelligent, sarcastic, pessimistic, honest, and hilarious.  These are all traits I wished I had.  I wanted to be seen as cynical, anti-social, and misanthropic, just like Daria.  I think I pursued this because it was much easier for me to accept my loner, introverted tendencies than to put myself out there and attempt to be as cool as everyone else was trying to be.  Daria inspired me to embrace being an outsider.  She made it look so much more appealing than being in the “in-crowd.”  What I love most about the character was that she was authentic.  She didn’t make snide remarks for attention; she said things because they needed to be said and everyone else was too afraid to say them.

I was such a huge fan of “Daria” that eventually I felt possessive of the show and the character.  I related to her so much that I was convinced I was the only person who truly understood the show.  Once, in high school, a cheerleader started talking to me about “Daria” and it disturbed me.  She went on and on about her favorite characters and even did impressions of them.  I nodded and smiled politely, but thought to myself “She can’t possibly understand the nuances of the writing and the subtle humor must go right over her head!”  Of course, eventually I realized that it was ridiculous to think I was the only one who appreciated “Daria.”  It was a well-written, funny, relatable show that just happened to be about a girl who was incapable of being anyone but herself.  From a young age, girls are expected to be get along with everyone they meet and be nice, sweet, and charming. Daria didn’t have to smile and put on a façade to get people to respect her.  She wasn’t concerned with being likable; she spent her time becoming a smarter, more interesting person, which is what I admire most about her.

If you haven’t seen “Daria” or just want to catch up it’s available on Netflix and Hulu

This is one of my favorite clips from “Daria.”  I dread questions about my goals too.

Daria being smart, insecure, and realistic

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