I’ve been doing a lot of rants lately… I’m not sure what that’s about, but anyways, let’s get down to it.
I was talking to a friend of mine recently about the iconic 90s’ cult classic TV show Daria, a show about a sarcastic, monotone teenager living in the suburbs. I really loved the show and I still watch it to this day! It’s so darn good! But when I was talking to my friend, I was talking about my favorite character, Jodie Landon.
Jodie, and her boyfriend Mac were two recurring characters who went to highschool with Daria. While Jodie didn’t fully get Daria’s edgy and slightly snarky character, she was still pretty nice to her and could have intelligent conversation with her, despite her popularity.
But it wasn’t Jodie’s nice-ness that made her my favorite character. It was what she represented. Daria’s storyline was riddled with her problems as a unique kid who wasn’t like the others. But I think Jodie gave the audience a wakeup call. That the problems of a white girl who’s “not like the rest” may be annoying, but there are bigger problems than the other people in your school thinking you’re weird. There are struggles black girls face every day, that aren’t overtly discussed. Jodie highlighted a few of these problems in a way that wasn’t so brash and angry, but it still got the point across.
Jodie and her boyfriend, Mac constantly talked about being minorities in their town, and in one episode, pointed out that they were only elected homecoming king and queen every year because they were the tokens of the school. Also, it was noted that her parents, who were also a very successful black couple, made her work twice as hard as other kids, for example, Jodie works on getting internships or volunteer work done during her summer break instead of relaxing. Jodie also envies the way Daria is so blunt with her opinions, and choses to be more soft spoken. (I think this speaks to the Angry Black woman trope) I think my favorite moment with Jodie would be when she explains that when she’s at home, she’s just Jodie, but when she’s at school, she has to be a perfect representation for her entire race. Which is a struggle that a lot of minorities face. Feeling like they have to leave a good impression so that their entire race isn’t slandered.
In conclusion, the show Daria wasn’t just great because of the obvious reasons, it used a character that highlighted that Daria’s problems weren’t the worst things a teen could go through in suburbia. The show used the (at the time, new) trope of the “nerdy minority” and gave it depth and meaning. Which doesn’t really happen all too often. Look at Danny Phantom, or Ned’s De-Classified, or Fairly Odd Parents. All three have the nerdy or over-achieving black kid, but they still treat the characters as tokens. I really think the writers of Daria were ahead of their time.
Also, I know Daria was a spinoff of Beavis and Butthead, but like, can we get a spinoff of Jodie in college living it up?? Please???
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