Drenched in grunge spirit and Gen X nihilism, MTV’s Daria was a touchstone of '90s pop culture. With inborn cynicism and unfettered sarcasm, high school student Daria Morgendorffer was the ultimate cool nerd, whose stoic disposition we all wished we could emulate. At the time, Daria’s subversiveness looked sounder than sister Quinn’s seemingly frivolous and borderline neurotic self-obsession. Fast forward twenty years since Daria made its original debut on MTV, and the world is more full of Quinns than we could ever have imagined possible. How did we allow this to happen? Daria was a ray of light, that made geekiness and introversion look like the only sane way forward. Let’s have a look at the sitcom’s most memorable and soulful quotes.
10 Sometimes Your Shallowness Is So Thorough...
Sometimes your shallowness is so thorough it's almost like depth...
To many of us, Daria was the decade’s voice of reason that was hushed as soon as social media and self-promotion became a thing. What made Daria so unique was that she hated the limelight and anything fake and pretentious. She could see through '90s faux intellectuals, so when in the episode "Quinn The Brain", Quinn goes through a brainy phase (more pronounced through her dark clothes and makeup, than her actual intellectual achievements), Daria calls her bluff. Daria could tell the difference between real and fake brainy.
9 It Never Would Have Worked...
It never would have worked. I mean, unless I tried or something.
The most extraordinary thing about Daria is that she is herself, period. She is brainy and she accepts that. She looks geeky and she also accepts that. In a culture that tries to mold everyone into the same high-achiever, extrovert, permanently peppy transmitter of positive vibes, Daria reminds us that just being yourself and doing what you love, is good enough. And if you’re lucky it might not require so much effort either.
8 To Not Wake Up At Forty With The Bitter Realization...
My goal is not to wake up at forty with the bitter realization that I've wasted my life on a job I hated because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.
Apart from arming us with a slew of Inspirational Instagram memes (I am sure the mere idea of it would make her cringe), Daria set the tone for Millennial free-spiritedness and creativity. A bit ironic, considering that the entire show is a reflection of Gen X cynicism and slacker spirit.
7 Is There Any Time When How You Look...
Is there any time when how you look doesn't affect how you're judged?
Obviously, Daria was created at the dawn of social media. Things like Instagram selfie addiction would be a bizarre Orwellian scenario for Daria and her crew. High-school students still had the time and the mental hard drive space to sit alone and ponder deep philosophical dilemmas. (not to mention both hands unoccupied while doing so).
6 I’ve Been Busy Procrastinating All Day
Our entire bulk of '90s nostalgia can be encapsulated in this phrase alone. Daria first aired in back in 1997. Grunge had been pronounced dead with Kurt Cobain, but the ripple effect of its values (or rather anti-values) was palpable in every aspect of youth culture.
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The mantra “I am worst at what I do best, and for this gift, I feel blessed” was still echoing loud in our ears like mad Nirvana screams. Daria was geeky smart, but her IQ wasn’t shoved down our throats like an excuse for being a weirdo, as Sheldon Cooper’s is in The Big Bang Theory for example. She was smart, and dark and sardonic at the same time.
5 The Whole Thing’s Enough To Turn Your Stomach
The whole thing's enough to turn your stomach. Which I guess is good if you want to be a model. Eases the transition to bulimia.
Without a doubt Daria was an inspiring feminist role model of the time, seeing the incongruity between Barbie looks and gender equality. Beauty contests nauseated Daria because they were the opposite of all the things she stood for. She's also not afraid to skewer the modeling industry for its promotion of super-thin models - something that was especially relevant during the heroin-chic days of the 90s, when models actually aspired to look sick.
4 Only When I'm Awake
Trent: “Daria, do you ever feel like you are wasting your life?”Daria: “Only when I’m awake”
Arguably, the art of sarcasm was Daria’s bread and butter. But isn’t her constant state of sarcasm a shamefully anti-social behavior, you might wonder? It’s important to understand that Daria’s seemingly misanthropic attitude was a healthy response to her environment, and it didn’t stop her from being an essentially fair, kind and very level-headed individual. She's also surrounded by friends who also understand and feel the same - like the uber-grunge Trent.
3 My Biggest Fear Right Now...
My biggest fear right now is that I'll wake up and this conversation won't be a dream.
Like her contemporaries The Simpsons and Dilbert, Daria is sprinkled with subtle surrealism. After all, she believed that the world sucks so bad, that reality can’t be all there is.
Daria’s constant disdain for her environment was almost prophetic, she wanted to run from the consumerist, greedy, hypocritical and superficial reality, but her common sense told her he had nowhere to go.
2 I Don’t Have Low Self-Esteem
I don't have low self-esteem. I have low esteem for everyone else.
Perhaps Daria’s biggest cultural contribution was normalizing introversion and showing what it really is about. The series foretold pop culture’s love affair with smart geeks. What’s more, it was revolutionary, because it focused on a smart woman instead of repeating the worn narrative of a geeky guy who falls for the alpha female character.
1 There’s No Moment In Life That Can’t Be Improved With Pizza
As final proof that Daria’s cynicism was a healthy personality trait is her inspirational speech at the high school graduation. “Stand firm in what you believe in until and unless logic and experience prove you wrong” she proclaims in her emotionless, robotic voice. “The truth and a lie are not sort of the same thing. And there is no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can’t be improved with pizza”.