A brief retrospective on one of the coolest characters to ever grace television by AMY GREEN

Ah, youth. Does anyone else remember the old stellar Channel 5 Saturday morning line-up?  A slew of terrible Aaron Spelling ‘comedies’ like City Guys (”C-I-T-Y you can see why…”) and USA High (featuring a hilarious theme song in which a washed up Springsteen impersonator growls ‘rockin’ at USA High’ over and over again and some of the worst French accents this side of racial slur.  Oh and my first ever ‘celebrity’ crush, Thomas Magier, who was often thrillingly shirtless).  Round The Twist, the star of which was an unattractive ginger boy who found everything so endlessly fascinating he could never find the time to close his gaping maw. And Popular, which was kind of like ‘the League of Gentlemen’ and ‘The O.C’ smashed together and was canceled all too soon because you can’t tell people.  In my humble (though god-like) opinion, it was the last great Saturday morning line-up. Sure, we had a few good ‘uns, like ‘SM:TV Live’ and ‘Live and Kicking’, but the day that ‘The Core’ was dropped is the day the proverbial music died.

Because this profound mixture of terrible drivel and insanely entertaining dramadies built character.  Because we are the last generation to have grown up with 5 channels, on terrestrial TV.  And because this was the line-up introduced the UK to one of the greatest TV shows ever, Daria.

Daria started off as a character in Beavis and Butthead.  Her first solo appearance was in a short pilot (above), which proved so popular MTV commissioned the first season.  It ran for six years, from 1997 to 2002, before the series’ creators decided to call it a day.  It is not an exaggeration to say that I think it is one of the best shows ever.

I could say Daria is about a misanthropic teen living with her family in a suburban town, but I wouldn’t be doing it justice.  It’s timeless, the stories, the characters, the wit.  The show was a universal ‘you’re not alone’, in a time before broadband.  I know this now, because of the following it has developed in today’s internet age.  Earlier this year, it was announced that all five seasons of Daria would be released on DVD, after all the episodes appeared on youtube, each garnering thousands of hits (which were then deleted. And re-uploaded).  I’ve just watched the entire series again.

Nietzsche said (I’m sorry), ”the surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently”. What’s awesome about Daria, is that, obviously, it totally did the opposite, it made it seem cool to be a bit of a misfit, or weird, or different.  I mean, Hannah Montana might not be the most popular girl in school, but you know.  She gets by.

There’s no real happy ending in Daria, its just a realistic, funny show about what its like to be an outcast in High School.  Think of it as an American animated Skins.  But not S3 of Skins.  The good Skins.  Or if someone had made Ghost World into a TV show.  Or if Veronica from Heathers was a ridiculously insightful cartoon character.  Or any number of effusive comparisons.

I strongly urge everyone to check it out.  All the seasons are amazing (although 4,5 and both TV movies are particular standouts).  I felt I owed a somewhat serious tone, writing about a show and a character that have both influenced me so much.  I sincerely hope it becomes another cult classic like ‘My So Called Life’, after its DVD release, even though it doesn’t star illiterate Jared Leto. It is way too good to be lost to the ages.