Ask a certain crowd of people what the defining MTV show of their childhood was, and it’s not TRL, or Real World or Jersey Shore. It’s Daria. Though Ms. Morgendorffer had been seen on Beavis and Butt-Head before, the March 3, 1997, premiere of Daria proved that the two shows couldn’t be more different. Let’s take a fond trip back to Lawndale for a closer look at the best animated misanthrope of the ‘90s.
1. B&B-H creator Mike Judge had no involvement in Daria …
Judge agreed to release the character, but that’s where his involvement with the show ended. He reportedly said, “It’s okay with me as long as I don’t have to do anything,” according to an oral history on the Huffington Post.
2. … and the show’s fanbase didn’t exactly follow her.
In a 1998 New York Times article on the show, the paper noted that Daria rated lowest among Beavis & Butt-Head‘s most popular demographic: 18- to 24-year-old males.
3. Mike Judge was reportedly displeased with Daria …
B&B-H producer John Garrett Andrews said he was unaware of Judge’s reaction — the latter told Vice a few years back that he thought Daria was the result of “a couple of MTV executives [wanting] to prove they could do something without him.”
4. … but Daria took in B&B-H staffers when that show was cancelled.
Glenn Eichler and Daria co-creator Susie Lewis were both veterans of B&B-H — Eichler was an MTV promo editor and B&B-H writer, and Lewis was a producer on B&B-H who helped choose the music videos the pair watched and helped script their comments.
5. There are no “missing episodes” of Daria.
“The schedule and budget didn’t allow us that luxury [of not airing an episode once completed],” Eichler said in a 2005 interview. “Once we committed to an episode idea, that was it.”
6. The show’s theme was by a band with only one album to its name.
Splendora’s first and only record, In the Grass, came out in 1995. The all-girl group’s song “You’re Standing on My Neck” was chosen when Lewis found a copy of the CD on her desk and approached them about producing some demos for the show.
7. We almost got a Mystik Spiral show.
Daria’s friend Jane’s older brother Trent’s band was very nearly the focus of its own spin-off before MTV Animation was shuttered. The Mystik Spiral pilot script eventually came out as a part of Daria’s DVD box set.
8. The popular girls never refer to Daria by name.
Instead, Daria’s younger sister Quinn and popular girl Sandy refer to her with a variety of other terms.
9. Daria’s reading list is formidable.
A partial list of the books Daria is seen reading during the show: Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (and Nausea!), Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice.
10. She’s got a picture of the Hindenburg disaster decorating her locker.
She was also pictured in front of a poster of the famous airship’s disaster in an episode of Beavis & Butt-Head.
10. Four different voice actors played Mack.
Though Mack and his girlfriend Jodie Landon were important color-barrier-breakers in the ‘90s, Mack’s character didn’t get anywhere near the screen time Jodie or any of the other characters did — despite the fact that he was usually the smartest person in the room (besides Daria). Perhaps because of this, he was voiced by four different actors throughout the show’s five seasons.
11. The show’s episode titles are a veritable pop-culture dictionary.
Earlier episodes were titled with simple puns (“Esteemsters”) or just exposition (“The Invitation”), but the show’s creators started having fun with titles, referencing musicians like the Misfits (“Dye Dye Dye My Darling”), Elvis Costello (“This Year’s Model”) and Jane’s Addiction (“Jane’s Addition”). They also referenced literature with titles like “Partner’s Complaint” (a play on Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint) and “A Tree Grows in Lawndale” (Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) and film with “Depth Takes a Holiday” (Death Takes a Holiday, remade in 1998 as Meet Joe Black) and “Legends of the Mall” (Legends of the Fall).