• Fri, Nov 4 2011

Why Daria Should Never Come Back To Television

MTV is bringing Beavis and Butthead back, which I have never watched, but which still led me to moan to one of my friends “that’s so dumb. Why can’t they bring Daaaarrriiaa back?” I said it with this great nasal whine, as if I were a pre-teen again. Apparently, I am not the only one who feels that way, though hopefully the other fans of the show don’t moan about it in the Fran Drescher style as I did. It was cuter when I was 12.

Which is why they can’t bring Daria back. Because I’m not a pre-teen anymore, and neither are you.

And even if the new version was as great as any show could ever be, nothing will ever be as great as it was when you were 12. Remember being that young and seeing everything for the first time? First dances? First kisses? The way when you heard a good song it was THE BEST SONG EVER WRITTEN and not something that seemed kind of derivative of something you’d heard a decade ago?

Daria struck us as being the best show then partly because it was a great show – and it really holds up – but also partly because a lot of us we were seeing it from a youthful perspective. Anything seen with the eyes of a 20 or 30 something is going to seem less amazing than something you saw when you were young, if only because you have more to compare it to.

Of course, it helped that Daria was incredibly unique, and spoke to us a lot more than any of, say, the characters on 90210. For a while it was the best song ever written. But since Daria’s passing shows have popped up that seem, well, pretty derivative of Daria. My Life As Liz , in which a girl who loves reading and wearing combat boots deals with teen problems is essentially striving to be a non-animated version of Daria. If Daria were to reappear on television now, it would seem imitative of a half dozen other programs. That’s a good thing. That means the show did what it was supposed to do – it laid the groundwork for other shows about teens who were not necessarily super-pretty or popular and who liked watching life from the sidelines, a copy of Machiavelli in hand. But bringing back a show like that seems like bring back a model T in a world of volvos. The model T might legitimately be better, but things have evolved since then, and there are going to be ways in which it won’t quite keep up. It will no longer seem like the coolest car on the road – or if it does, it will be regarded so based on the strength of nostalgia.

Do you know what else I used to moan about? The way Jane Magazine ceased to exist. God, I whined about that for years. Then they launched XO Jane, and I’ve been pretty bitter that it can’t uphold my mind-standard of Jane Magazine. Maybe that’s because I romanticized it all out of proportion, but it might also be because Jane Magazine did what it was supposed to. It laid the groundwork so sites like us, or the Hairpin, or Jezebel, or The Frisky or any number of other chatty places can exist.

But when they try to resurrect the original, there is something that feels a little bit unnatural, rather like when long separated band-members decide to get their band back together for a reunion tour. Maybe it’s better to remember the band in its full glory, than to see a group of 60-year olds looking winded as they trod a stage. The alternative seems to reminiscent of the scene in any horror movie where someone implores a witch “bring him back from the dead!” and the witch says “he won’t be the same!” and the person replies “I don’t care if he’s the same just as long as he comes back!” (I have based this scene on Buffy and Practical Magic). That is always a bad idea.

I miss Daria, but in my mind, it’s a pure and perfect thing. When I watch it, it feels like I am 13 years old again. There’s something to be said for preserving a perfect memory of some things.

What I’m saying is: Beavis and Butthead, probably not going to be nearly as good as you’re hoping.

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  • Jess Zaino

    I was a few of the voices on Daria. Maaan, those were the days. Cue opening music. La la la la la. xxJZ

    • Fatima

      I too wanted Daria back when I heard about B&B. God, those were the days!

      And this post is dead on, bringing it back would ruin it some or a lot.

      Remember those goofy SATC movies?

      Ugh.

      Should have just left well enough alone.

  • SP

    I dunno. I get that shows are sometimes resurrected and end up nothing like the original, or nothing as captivating as the original; but I’m not sure that can primarily be blamed upon my growing up. I think sometimes it’s just shittier. Like, I love Ren and Stimpy, and I just watched a random episode of the NEW Ren and Stimpy, and the whole episode was tits and Ren’s attempts to get at them, and it was just weird and different and genuinely not the same type of show. But I watch DVDs of the old one and I’m laughing my ass off again. Perhaps more than when I was kid watching them, actually.

    I saw Daria when I was in High School so it wasn’t really a parade of firsts by then– if anyone introduced me to high school dances, etc, in a show, it would probably be The Wonder Years. When I first watched The Wonder Years, it was wildly entertaining, I thought it was really touching sometimes and I could relate to some of the stuff. Now that I’m rewatching it as an adult, I think I relate to it more than ever, although that might be partly due to the fact that the narrator is an adult. When I was a kid, I looked more for direct correlations to my life– this episode is exactly something that happened to me! But now I relate to the feelings more than the actions– this exact situation didn’t occur, but Kevin is heartbroken, and boy do I remember times of heartbreak around his age. If anything, I appreciate it more now. The show is more beautiful and relatable than ever before.

    I think if Daria were resurrected, it would be a different experience, but if it’s done right, it won’t be unpleasant. You’ll appreciate things you didn’t care about before. The things you did care about will still be there. It is weird when old band members reunite after long periods apart, but that’s because they’re different, and let’s face it, a lot of the time, half the reason you love bands when you’re a child is because you have a crush on the people in them and once that goes away, the band becomes way less good (exception: Spice Girls, FOREVER). But with shows that are resurrected, if the writing is good, if the spirit of the show is still the same, then you just may find yourself liking it even better the second time.

    But it is a risk. I admit, there is a risk.

  • Jennie

    You can watch Daria on Hulu! http://www.hulu.com/daria

  • Lynna

    I think the issue at hand isn’t so much the nostalgia factor, as it is the shift in quality writing for the adolescent set. My Life As Liz was filled with all sorts of issues; from being semi-reality and not admitting it, to having a somewhat unlikable character. No matter how much of an outsider she claimed to be, there was a huge audience backlash against her for trying too hard to be an outsider. Skins US was an even worse mess that I won’t bother getting into. And we can’t keep relying on vampires and werewolves to try and relate to the awkwardness of growing up.

    Mike Judge is just as brilliant as he’s ever been, and he’s proven with Beavis & Butthead that he can update and make these shows relevant to a younger generation while still holding on to what made adults like them in the first place. He created Daria, just as he created King of the Hill, and Office Space. His work is actually pretty good at being timeless, which makes it relatable and becomes nostalgic.

    P.S. Jane Magazine had Claudine Ko, XOJane has Cat Marnell. Enough said.

  • Dani

    The difference here is that Beavis and Butthead is classic stoner humour whereas Daria is that annoying bitch that sat beside me in art class. I too have doubts that the B&B comeback can capture the 90s nostalgia, but it can work if done right…

  • Amanda

    There are still people now , in their twenties perharps 30′s still appreciating Daria, it may well be true of better leaving it be part of our teenage memories, yet even now in my twenties i still appreciate the sarcastic wits of Daria and had bought the boxset , i have grown to understand the jokes now that were once over my head when i first saw it as a kid.
    Just like other previous comments above me , suggest bringing Daria back is risky as it will loses its values and originality , just look at the Simpsons, and the culture of teens has changed- vampires , glee . So it is better to let Daria be then to screw it up for the new generation and especially for the fans.

  • tanjo

    uhh well when it first came out,
    i was really young. i thought daria was really cool, but never even found out her name until i was sixteen. my therapist told me she reminds me of her.. i still like it as a teen.. oh, and my life is liz is shitty compared to daria.. they’re nothing alike. daria is really pretty, not a nerd or outcast in my opinion. she chooses not to be popular, because the people at her school are shallow and she’s a nonconformist..
    sorry, but this article sucked.

  • jeff loggens

    Its my favorite show ever, but the originl people will never make more episodes. Instead, more work should be done to make sure new amazing show are being made. That’s why we need to petition fox to cancel the simpsons. Let’s see what show creators have in store for us in present day. And if you ask my opinion, same goes for family guy.

    You want a show that speaks to you today, rather than yesterday. Don’t look back, keep boogyin’.

  • C24

    I think all Beavis and Butthead fans can laugh at this article two years later. The new season was extremely successful and definitely holds up against the old cartoons but is relevant to today. Honestly, Daria would be a strong comeback cartoon too. All comebacks need a great idea, greater script and even greater promotion. But it could happen…

  • Katrina McClain

    they really should bring back Daria. I mean look at all the TV shows right now what is the young highschool girl have to look up to watching Kim Kardashian getting fucked and being famous for no reason, watching a bunch of crazy drunk rich Kidz do stupid things wow that’s something to look forward to, that’s what I want my kids watching I’d rather than watching Daria and her cynic smart ass then watched a bunch of rich kids run around crash daddy’s car spend all their money and have unprotected sex. He’ll I would want my teenage daughter to watch Daria a girl that’s smart and gets good grades and not teen mom where it teaches young girls that it’s okay to get pregnant as long as mommy and daddy have money or that it’s okay if you get pregnant because then you can end up on MTV show and then end up with a lot of money. Have you ever seen those monster high cartoons all that is is just getting little girls ready to end up on a show like teen moms

    • brooke gauci

      I agree !! BRING BACK DARIA