A definite must-watch for teenagers and adults alike.
This is one of those shows that both adults and teenagers can really get a lot out of. With all the vapid programming for teenagers permeating every corner of television these days (like 16 and Pregnant, Degrassi, and other such TV shows), Daria offers a different perspective on what life for a (junior) high school student is like.
One issue that parents tend to have with Daria is the way that adults are portrayed. They're portrayed as either clueless, condescending, unhelpful, or some combination thereof. The thing is, when you're in (junior) high school, most adults generally DO come off as such. This is something that a lot of parents who lodge this criticism against the show seem to forget. The story is mostly being told from Daria's point of view and not from an adult's point of view. If the story was being told from Helen or Jake's point of view, then all the teenagers and children in this show would be portrayed as how most adults would view a teenager or a child.
The major problem that some people will have that start watching Daria is the titular character's constant deadpan voice (and it does get tedious if you watch the entire show in one go, like I did). To someone looking at the show from the outside-in, it'll seem boring and he/she'd be wondering how this show managed to get so popular in the first place. The appeal of this show mostly stems from Daria herself.
Daria starts out as a cynical 16-year-old high school junior that's more or less an outcast. She's garnered a reputation at school for being a "brain," is anti-social and generally prefers to read books, eat pizza, and watch TV than go to parties and hang out with people. Daria tends to provide the "colour commentary" for what goes on around her and responds to everything with either sarcasm or unbridled cynicism.
The first three seasons show Daria tackling various tasks that she ordinarily wouldn't do of her own free will (like taking a self-esteem course, gathering funds for a new coffee house, babysitting, and part-time employment) all the while having to deal with the various . . . "challenges" that await her (like dealing with an overly-sensitive teacher, being reprimanded for not selling chocolate to a hyperglycaemic, dealing with two 'brainwashed' children who pray for world peace every night before bed, and tending to an idiot who can't remember what an almond looks like). Daria remains more or less the same throughout these seasons, and there isn't a lot of development of her character. That isn't to say there isn't any development at all but the only times that Daria gets any sort of character development is if someone dies, or if Aunt Amy or Trent play a major part of an episode,.
The last two seasons of the show really delve into Daria's character and some of the challenges she'll face aren't so easy to handle. For example, in the Season 4 finale "Is It Fall Yet?" she has to deal with life without her friend, Jane (who left for an artist's colony for the summer). "Boxing Daria" from Season 5 is another good example of what I'm talking about. In this episode, she recalls a fight her parents had regarding her antisocial tendencies and as a result, she has to deal with the possibility that maybe the adults in her life aren't as one-dimensional as they seem.
Daria is a show that most people think only teenagers (like juniors and seniors in high school) can relate to, but that's usually not the case. If you have a kid who's bookish and/or socially withdrawn, Daria can definitely be a show the two of you can watch together. Some of the humour might get a little over your kid's head but that doesn't mean you won't get it. Despite appearances, Daria is a show that parents can enjoy just as much as teenagers do (especially if you're into dry humour).
The lack of any good role models in this show is actually a good thing. Parents are the most powerful role model in a kid's life, so why even bother shifting that kind of responsibility to a TV show character?
Violence? Well there's none of that in this show.
Sex? Well it's a show that takes place in a high school setting, so there's bound to be *some* hormonally stressed-out teens and indeed, there are. There's nothing outright shown, and most of the time it's mentioned in-passing. If you have a problem with any mention of sex or any hints of it whatsoever, despite what you might think, most fourth graders tend to have *some* idea of what sex is. Most TV sitcoms, film trailers, pop music videos, popular songs, etc. sort of give away what a man and a woman can do behind closed doors. Check your kid's browsing history while they're young.
Swearing? The worst that I've ever heard out of this show is "damn" (which Daria's family tend to say semi-frequently) and the occasional "crap" and let's be honest, those are the kind of swears that get thrown around in the school yard during recess. This show uses a lot of dry humour and sarcastic wit so there's no real need for swearing to begin with.
Consumerism? I don't think fan fiction and deviantART entries count.
Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are next to non-existent. Regarding drugs, there's nothing mentioned, however there's a segment of the fanbase that think Trent and his band are stoners (but then again, they could just be good-for-nothing slackers). Alcohol is very rarely shown, and when it is, it's usually in an appropriate setting (i.e. Helen having a little too much champagne at a wedding). As for tobacco, well I think there's one or two scenes where a bystander is smoking, but again. Bystander. Nobody of significance smokes anything.