When it comes to girls and young women characters there appears to be an odd belief that there are few examples of them in comedy, specifically examples who could be held up as comedic role models. I seem to have some extra time on my hands right now and rather than rearrange my wardrobe I have decided to dedicate an essay each to the fictional girls and young women who deserve more recognition for their comedy.
Daria Morgendorffer would think this was stupid, but I’m going to do it anyway, let’s begin my ode to Daria, lalalalala… I didn’t discover Daria until I was at university. However I wish I had seen the show earlier and firmly believe Daria should be required viewing for all teenagers, the show gave us an unusual glimpse into the life of a clever, unpopular teenager who wasn’t on a mission to improve her status. Instead, Daria knew she’d have won if she just got through high school.
First introduced to us via MTV’s show Beavis and Butthead in a bid to draw more female viewers in, Daria wasn’t only book smart, she got it. She knew there was more to life than fitting in, unlike her younger sister Quinn and she refused to compromise just to please some short-sighted adults and peers. As our heroine said herself “I don’t have low self-esteem, I have low esteem for everyone else.” Nobody could fool this gal.
Of course, Daria had flaws which she occasionally obsessed over like most teenagers do; for instance, trying out contact lenses throws her into a shame spiral that she has not met her own rigorous standards when it comes to vanity. She was also not unfamiliar with pangs of jealousy, when her best friend Jane takes up running, and then a boyfriend, Daria submits to the green-eyed monster. RELATABLE.
Always ready with a dry comeback (when her crush Trent Lane wasn’t in the room), Daria possessed wit and insight not often bestowed on a fictional teenage girl and she didn’t have to slay any vampires, cast spells or live on a creek to justify it. It’s no wonder the show hit home with so many viewers.
The show is rare in that it still holds up in a way other 90s shows such as Friends fail to. Daria was pretty woke before the term was widely known. So, aside from the odd pager reference, chunky mobile phone or fundraising for a cyber-cafe, it’s pretty timeless and currently provides a great escape from today’s Sick Sad World.
It’s worth noting Daria is not the only funny woman in the series, Quinn spouted some great lines “I’m not my sister’s beeper!”, as did Helen Morgendorffer (“We tell you over and over again that you’re wonderful and you just don’t get it, what’s wrong with you!”), Jodie Landon, Brittany Taylor and all the members of the Fashion Club. But Daria wouldn’t have been Daria without Jane Lane (I may dedicate one of these essays to Jane Lane, let me know if you think I should), together the pair navigated high school and beyond with a dry wit, healthy cynicism and of course, pizza.
If you have a character you’d like to suggest for this, then tweet me @funnywomened
Read why Anastasia Krupnik is a comedy icon here!
Read why Helga Pataki is a comedy icon here!