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.