Daria was a character on Beavis and Butthead who was basically, the normal one amongst the crazies. The guys would get involved in out of control adventures & Daria’s entire shtick was to have a bored look on her face, a bit obtuse and smart and above it all.
Its a classic TV Trope! Joker & Batman, Squidward & Spongebob, Daria & Butthead! Nothing special.
Then in 1997, Daria got her own spin-off show entitled, Daria. The Creator of Beavis & Butthead was busy working on King of the Hill, so Daria went in a completely different direction. Her character was expanded on & the show went from pure shock humor and comedy – to “teen drama” & satire.
The show was still a situational comedy, but the comedy became more quiet and mature than the slapstick Beavis and Butthead was known for.
The character of Daria was smart and principled – but also sarcastic and unmotivated. A balanced character with character flaws to go alongside reasons to like her. Some people LOVE Daria’s intelligence and thoughtful demeanor, while others hated her as a pessimistic & cynical character.
All the same, the show was a total hit! The only reason it ended was because the show’s creator wanted to move on. Better to end on a high note than go on forever and lose the soul of the show, right?
But now Daria is back.
In June of 2018, MTV announced a reboot of the series named “Daria and Jodie”. Jodie was the stressed out over-achiever girl at the school that served as a character foil for Daria. Now it seems like MTV going to capitalize on that: the cynical slacker versus the forward thinking workerbee.
A new angle, but a beloved character, so…Why is the Daria Reboot Doomed to Fail?
5 – Its a REBOOT
First you’ll need to know the difference between a Reboot and a Revival.
A Revival is something like “Fuller House”. They’ll age up the characters and continue in the established world at play. A REBOOT is something like Powerpuff Girls. They’re going to erase the past stories and timeline all the way back to the beginning. The backstory, the characters, everything will be done from scratch.
All of the character development Daria had, GONE. When she grew more considerate of others, when she grew more connected to her peers – Its all wiped away. And rather than go to college, she’ll be back in high school for another series. All the progress is lost and we’re starting over again! If I wanted that, I would just rewatch the series!
4 – The Audience Grew Up
We’ve seen it with Beavis and Butthead and we’ll see it again. MTV brings back beloved characters, and millions of people watch – at first. Then as time goes on, the number of viewers decline, and the show fades away.
The fact is, many people have already outgrown Daria. And even though people will show up and watch when it comes back at first – there’s no guarantee they’ll stay!
That low energy slacker act has been done a million times now, and a show cannot survive on that alone!
Imagine if Bob’s Burgers was all about Tina – and that’s what we’re looking at here. While that blank faced stare was relatable to a teenager – most people today have jobs and families and hobbies. Simply put, they don’t relate to lethargic teenagers anymore!
3 – The New Direction
The Show is going to be called “Daria and Jodie” – so you can already tell that the focus is going to change. According to MTV President Chris McCarthy –
“The story [the writers] want to tell of Daria is different, it’s about Daria and Jodie and two close friends taking on the world today and what’s happening in our culture at large,”
“It’s less about the monetization and more about telling great stories…Of course, we’re going to make money but it’s about taking this IP and bringing it into the future…”
Now obviously, most fans have two concerns right here. FIRST – Will the focus on these two, take time away from other beloved characters? SECOND – What does he mean by “telling great stories” ?
Some people say the original Daria has great stories, but maybe Chris McCarthy disagrees? Why didn’t he say the focus was to stay true to the soul of the original series? What changes are coming up?
And of course, the cynical part of me is coming out… Is “Telling Great Stories” – just code words for making Daria super-political? Because sure – the original Daria had a political tilt – but it never got too preachy.
So tell me MTV – what do you mean by “Telling Great Stories”? Whatever they mean, change is coming,
and it sounds like they won’t stay true to the soul of the show.
2 – The MTV Writers
Whether its Rey in Star Wars or the new girls in Dragon Ball Super, people are really tired of bad character writing for females. Lets just rip off this band-aid: People are really tired of Mary Sue Characters.
There’s nothing wrong with female characters when you write them well, but if they fail to write Daria well, it will be catastrophic for the movement they’re trying to help.
If this turns out badly, it will be a black mark on her legacy. It will stop new fans from watching the show. It will ruin the reputation of Daria for millions.
Just think about Roseanne: something bad happened, and now I can’t get anyone to watch the original series! That black mark on her legacy, has stopped new fans from watching.
MTV had better get this right, or the show is screwed! And knowing the writers on the show, I’m also worried they’re going to make it intensely political. A writer for “Inside Amy Schumer” is working on this show [Grace Edwards]. That’s a bad sign.
I’m worried – they’re gonna start making random characters black (like starfire), or turn it into a lesbian relationship drama, or worst of all – use the legacy of Daria as a weapon against their political rivals!
Daria always had politics in it. She was known for being a teen-liberal in the show; saying that Capitalism is a failed system, that the 1st world problems of America don’t matter, that our pop culture is vapid trash…But that’s mild compared to the political preaching we get today.
Netflix is promoting cuckolding! Gillette is attacking men! Starbucks is embracing refugees! DAMN! Just give me one thing that doesn’t try to brainwash me! But Daria is coming back on MTV, so chances are, they’ll ruin it.
1 – Modern Competition
I firmly believe television trends happen in cycles. We had loud shows like “Beavis and Butthead” & “Ren and Stimpy”, then we moved on to quiet shows like “Daria” and “Hey Arnold”.
The problem is – television has evolved recently to capitalize on both trends. Take Rick and Morty for example. There’s loud slapstick and there’s soft sadness.
The fact is, the monotone voice of Daria will struggle to compete! Especially with all the shows out nowadays. Bojack Horseman, Archer, Rick & Morty – the competition is enormous! Maladjusted nihilist protagonists are a dime a dozen!
Being sarcastic and cynical used to be cool, but now its been done a thousand times! So unless these writers accomplish some incredible magic – the simple fact is, Daria is doomed for failure.
The Daria Reboot will be available on HULU when they’re done with it. Maybe the sarcastic nihilists of society will band together to support it, but I really don’t see that happening.
They should have let Daria sit, let it rest in peace as a beloved classic… But now the heat is on. Either this reboot will bring in thousands of fans new and old – or it will be a black mark on the series for years to come.
Only time will tell.