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Maris Kreizman MTV's Daria reboot is the perfect vehicle to channel our collective hatred for America's phonies

Goop, clickbait, juice cleanses, everything on Reddit: There's no better time for MTV to bring back our beloved hater.
Image: Daria
Daria is coming back. Sigh.Courtesy MTV
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When MTV announced last week that they were planning to reboot Daria, the first thing that came to mind was the title character reading out loud in her trademark monotone — completely deadpan —from Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog, goop. If you’ve ever watched Daria you can probably already hear the sarcasm oozing from her words like steam from a... crotch.

Picture, for instance, Daria reading from the notorious article called Jade Eggs For Your Yoni: “From Kegels to vaginal steaming, we’re not shy here at goop about our interest in our sexual/reproductive systems.” Pause for a sigh. “So when beauty guru/healer/inspiration/friend Shiva Rose started talking about jade eggs, we wanted to hear more.”

Cynical and smarter-than-thou Daria was a cultural icon and one of the most beloved haters on television after the animated series (which started in 1997 as a mere "Beavis and Butthead" spinoff) hit a nerve with disaffected youth everywhere. She and her best friend, goth goddess Jane Lane, felt like outsider soulmates to many viewers and, together, they would call bull on “edgy” teen magazines, hypocritical school art projects and the vapidity of mall culture. Holden Caulfield might have accused others of being “phony” before they did, but Daria and Jane made it cool and fun (and feminist).

Holden Caulfield might have accused others of being “phony” before they did, but Daria and Jane made it cool and fun (and feminist).

When we last saw Daria Morgendorffer in 2001, fat-free was the dieting trend of choice, Fox News was a fledgling cable channel, and e-commerce was an emerging field into which Jeff Bezos' Amazon was just dipping a toe. Here are a few things worth hating that have been invented since the last time we were in Daria’s world: Vaping, social media, The Skimm, clickbait, Yelp reviews, athleisure, streaming television networks, the phrase “monetize your content.” There is so much juicy new material for Daria to roll her eyes at.

If her sister’s involvement in their school’s fashion club seemed shallow as hell to Daria before, wait until our judgmental heroine gets a load of the idea of wellness let alone the financial wherewithal required for "being mindful”: SoulCycle classes, Lululemon, juice cleanses, fitness apps, the Paleo diet. As a reader and writer, I personally have fantasies about Daria’s commentary on Goodreads reviews and what I imagine would be her utter disdain for people who “just don’t like the main character” in great books, or people who write glowingly of "Fifty Shades of Grey" but “just couldn’t get into” Anaïs Nin.

There will meanwhile be no need to reboot Daria’s favorite tabloid TV show, "Sick Sad World," because "Sick Sad World" today is the whole entire internet — or, more specifically, the sponsored content at the bottom of the page that shows photos of people with weird rashes, all of Reddit, and huge chunks of the current news cycle.

There will meanwhile be no need to reboot Daria’s favorite tabloid TV show, "Sick Sad World," because "Sick Sad World" today is the whole entire internet.

But, in the midst of all this mania, Daria might finally find her place online: Clearly there is no better spot for a misanthrope than Twitter. In 2018, Daria could could connect with so many other Darias out there who also enjoy social satire (even if the people she sees IRL everyday are still posting Facebook memes and writing “happy birthday” on the walls of various acquaintances). The world is larger than Lawndale, and maybe the internet will help her to see it.

Before we get too far speculating about which directions the reboot might take, it’s worth noting that it’s Jodie Landon, not Jane Lane, who gets to be Daria’s partner in crime this time around. According to MTV, “these two smart young women take on the world, with their signature satirical voice while deconstructing popular culture, social classes, gender and race." As Ira Madison pointed out on Twitter, “Jodie wasn’t even really friends with Daria (they had more of a mutual respect), but okay.”

Jodie might have been the best character on the show: A likable, over-achieving girl who struggled under the weight of having to be a role model for African American girls everywhere, given the lack of diversity in their town. She had more reason than Daria to be a hater, but she was a pragmatist — the kind of girl who read "How To Win Friends and Influence People" while Daria read "Heart of Darkness." Jodie had grace but few illusions. “We may be tokens but we’re damn good-looking ones,” she said to her boyfriend Mack as they rode the school homecoming float and waved to the crowd with smiles on their faces.

In present day America, we have so much to be mad about, and we can be mad about a lot of things at once.

So, aside from wondering what happened to Jane Lane (please let her come back) pairing Daria with Jodie is an opportunity. We don’t know when the timeline will pick up (will Daria and Jodie be in college?) or where, but we know that a Daria-and-Jodie focused show has the potential to go from suburban ennui to a showcase of despair for more of humankind. Maybe Daria will discover concept of intersectional feminism and become just slightly more aware of her own privilege. Or maybe Daria and Jodie will encounter queer or non-binary characters, and reflect on how brands shamelessly capitalize on Pride.

In present day America, we have so much to be mad about, and we can be mad about a lot of things at once. I would very much like to be mad with Daria and Jodie.

Maris Kreizman is the author of Slaughterhouse 90210. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Times, Vanity Fair, Vulture, Esquire, GQ, and more.

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