Daria Morgendorffer

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Teacher: “Daria, what about your goal?”
Daria: “Ummm, I don’t have any.”
Teacher: “Oh, come on Daria! You must have some goal.”
Daria: “My goal is not to wake up at forty with the bitter realization that I’ve wasted my life in a job I hate because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.”

That’s just one of many exchanges Daria Morgendorffer has in the aptly named ‘Daria’ series. Sardonic and pointed, Daria has a keen insight and doesn’t pull any punches. She gives a voice to thoughts we’ve all had while attending high school but never had the gumption to say out loud.

Daria was an animated sitcom that aired on MTV, from 1997 until 2002. It followed a young teenage girl named Daria, who moved to the town of Lawndale with her family. Daria is seen as an outcast, anti-social and doesn’t fit the mold. She sees life from her unique viewpoint. Her character is intelligent, has a dry whit, with a hefty dose of sarcasm. The show is satire and pokes fun at high school stereotypes, but also has a strong underlying message and relatability. I always felt that I was “Daria” at my school, I never really fit in, but I never wanted to change who I was either. I’m myself, either accept me or don’t. Daria is the same way.

Daria: “I’m not miserable. I’m just not like them.”

This is something Daria says to her best friend, Jane Lane after a former Lawndale Highschool football player passes away after a goal post falls on him. When that incident occurs, everyone at school looks to Daria to express their grief, because to them, she’s gloomy. They think that because she appears sad all the time, that she must understand what it’s like to deal with traumatic moments. That’s a misconception. There isn’t a time where Daria is said to have any diagnosis, but as a person on the spectrum, I relate. Sometimes, I don’t react to how people want me to respond. Even though I’m feeling things internally my public face betrays that.

Now, to reference the opening quote. Daria attended an event at a prep school that focuses on getting their students into the best university possible. The students at this school judge who they can be friends with by their test scores, and Daria while at the top of her classes at Lawndale, finds the environment to be suffocating. And when the teacher asks what her goals for the future are, she finds it unreasonable that teenagers should already have their life trajectory planned out. I concur because there’s so much pressure on students to know what they should be doing for the rest of their lives. If you ask adults if they figured out what they wanted to do for the rest of their time on earth at 17 and 18 years of age, most of them will say no. So, while preparing students for what occurs after graduation is important, I think the pressure can be stifling.

I could elaborate on a ton of episodes in the Daria series that spans five seasons plus two made for TV films. Even in 2018, it’s relatable to teenagers now and those who have matured into adulthood. Daria is someone we can feel at home with because maybe we didn’t fit in or how we viewed life was considered odd. I only talked about Daria here, but most of the characters in the series are multi-dimensional. Daria’s younger sister Quinn is popular and fashionable. She’s someone who fits the trope of a girl at school that everyone idolizes. However, she questions the price of fitting in. Jane Lane, Daria’s best friend, is an artist who was commissioned to create replicas for a hefty price but finds the work to be draining to her artistic talent. This series as a ton of depth, and is one of my favorite shows of all time. It gets my highest recommendation.


Ziggy is a Certified Peer Specialist in PA and currently resides in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Let’s Act committee, a group of peers devoted to raising awareness about mental health care. In his downtime, he enjoys reading novels and watching nature documentaries.

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