A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this animated series provides some important social commentary about teen life, if viewers aren't mature enough to see through its extreme satire, the significance of these messages is easily lost or misinterpreted. Also, while Daria's parents clearly love her, there's almost a complete lack of strong positive adult role models or constructive examples of adult-teen communication. Controversial subjects, such as sexual relationships and drug use, are mocked, and the consequences of these actions aren't fully discussed.
What's the story?
Television viewers were originally introduced to Daria Morgendorffer (voiced by Tracy Grandstaff) when she appeared as an occasional character on MTV's animated series Beavis and Butt-Head. In 1997 the animated sitcom DARIA -- created by Glenn Eichler -- debuted, showcasing Daria's intelligent-but-antisocial personality as she offers her dark point of view about the trials and tribulations of life in the suburb of Lawndale. Living with her loving-but-dysfunctional parents Jake (Julian Rebolledo) and Helen (Wendy Hoopes), and fashion-conscious younger sister Quinn (Hoopes), Daria spends her days trying to alienate herself from mainstream society. She shares most of her observations with best friend Jane Lane (Hoopes), who usually sympathizes with Daria, despite her own more-positive outlook on life. Together Daria and Jane attend Lawndale High, where they must co-exist with the likes of "dumb jock" star quarterback Kevin Thompson (Marc Thompson), brainless blonde cheerleader Brittany Taylor (Janie Mertz), and Charles "Upchuck" Ruttheimer III (Thompson), whose mission in life is to have sex with any girl who falls for his cheesy and inappropriate propositions.
Is it any good?
Daria provides some biting social commentary on many aspects of teen culture -- and on American suburban life in general. This is accomplished by exaggerating and often stereotyping recurring characters' personalities to the point of ridiculousness. Most of the teachers and staff at Lawndale have personality disorders so severe that they (hopefully) couldn't work in a real-life high school. And most of the show's teenagers represent what's most problematic in teen society -- including image consciousness, lack of academic interest, and consumerism. It's all meant to be funny, of course, but .....
And unfortunately, while Daria is particularly critical of her generation's willingness to conform to these mediocre standards, she's never motivated enough to do anything to change it. Instead she spends her time thinking cynically about the world she lives in -- which doesn't exactly make her the best role model for teen viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what things in their community bother them and the pros and cons of choosing to work to change those things. They can also talk about their adult role models at home and at school. Which teachers mean the most to them and why? Which of their characteristics do teens most admire? The show's use of negative stereotypes and inappropriate behavior are also topics that families may want to discuss.