So back in the day, MTV actually had a decent helping of good programming to its name, in tandem with the music component it has since lost. In the 1990’s, you had shows such as Beavis and Butthead (I didn’t say they were intellectually-stimulating, mind you), which showcased the network’s mindset of pushing the envelope with mindless entertainment for it’s core audience – teen and 20-something men.

But then the balance came out in the form of Daria in 1997. Daria Morgandorffer started as a side character on Beavis and Butthead to serve as a foil for the two brainless teen boys. MTV execs approached the series story editor with the idea of creating a spin-off series starting Daria. The Go-ahead was given, and in March of 1997, the first of 13 episodes aired for the new series and an animated legacy was born. Sorta.

Created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis, both previously staffers on Beavis & Butthead, Daria told the story of what happened after the titular character moved from the setting of the aforementioned show to the town of Lawndale with her previously unseen family – father Jake, who runs a consulting office and has sever trauma from his childhood as the son of a military man and therefore can be goofy one minute and fly off on a rant about his childhood the next; mother Helen who is a workaholic corporate attorney who despite loving her daughters has little time for them; and younger sister Quinn, who would rather worry about being cute and popular than anything else real in the world and acts as everything Daria despises. Throw in the fact Daria is fleshed out to be more of a sardonic, caustic individual striving to maintain being the observer of a what she considers to be mostly an idiots world, and you have the core of of a show that showcases dysfunction.

Daria is joined by several other character that are meant to bank on stereotypes and exaggerations of social life; highschool and otherwise. From Daria’s friend Jane Lane who works as a only slightly more social counterpart to Daria’s sarcastic personality, as well as a myriad of other character including stereotypical idiot savant football quarterback Kevin and his bubbly airhead cheerleader girlfriend Brittany, to the overachieving token (literally) African-Americans Jodie and ‘Mack’, to Quinn’s gaggle of fellow “popular girls” in the fashion club who range from overly-domineering to completely apathetic. No personality-type or archetype is spared from being poked a bit of fun at. As the series progresses through Daria’s highschool years, however, characters actually grow and develop and, just like real life, can be shown to out-grow the archetypes they started as. Even Daria, who can be considered a mix Dorothy Parker and Jeneane Garofalo (to the point people thought Garofolo was her voice-actor, and not Tracy Grandstaff)

Five seasons and two TV-movies were produced before the series end in 2002. Previously only available in VHS-format, only the two movies (“Is It Fall Yet?” and series ender “Is It College Yet?”) were released on DVD until earlier this year. (8 years, MTV? Really??) For the movies and most of the DVD-released episodes, most of the licensed music that had been used in the original run of the show was removed due to costs, including Splendora’s “Your Standing on My Neck”, which had become the series theme. Reception of the series, even after years of being off the air, stands positive with many female geeks (myself included) owing much to Daria’s misanthropic views of staying true to one’s self even when the world around you sees you as the freak. That, and having a fellow outcast as a friend to share in the observation and snarking about the idiocy of the world can even get you through the hell that is highschool.