There’s a certain subset of twenty- and thirtysomething women who identify with Daria Morgendorffer, the perpetually sarcastic heroine of MTV’s animated series Daria. (As an icon for brainy, feminist ladies, 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon is clearly Daria’s spirit twin.) What began as a spin-off of Beavis and Butt-Head—ironic, considering that program’s devotion to boys being stupid—morphed over time into one of the smartest depictions of the high-school experience on television.
Daria aired from 1997 until 2002, during a period in which those awkward teen years were a pop-culture gold mine: Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered the same year, while Dawson’s Creek followed in 1998. The monotonous teen stood out from that pack not only for her snide attitude (Buffy Summers may have kicked ass, but she wasn’t mean), but for her apathy toward her suburban family, her high-school classmates and the world around her. Though Daria was an idol for nerdy girls, the show’s deeper appeal is in how brilliantly it captured teenage angst and ennui.
The new DVD set is a welcome gift to fans, who’ve waited for eight years while the show found a distributor. In addition to all 65 episodes and both MTV-aired movies (an unnecessary coda to the near-perfect series), extras include a music video from Mystik Spiral (the band fronted by Trent, Daria’s crush), and a top-ten video countdown hosted by Daria and her BFF, Jane.—Amy Plitt
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