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Sure, we all do it. As human beings, it's easiest for us to put things (and people) into mental compartments. It helps us make sense of things. But when it comes to labeling people, things can get a bit dicey.
A lot of Daria deals with labels; there's the jock, the cheerleader, the artsy outcast, the popular clique, and the brain. In just about every episode, Daria is referred to as a "brain" or a "loser" and clearly there's more to her than that. We can see the depth of her character, but her compatriots cannot. This is endlessly frustrating for Daria. However, it doesn't prevent her from doling out the same treatment to others. She dismisses most of what Britney and Kevin bring to the table (and for good reason as much of it is nonsensical) and she refuses to acknowledge any positive attributes of her sister, Quinn. It’s a seemingly endless cycle and it stinks. Eventually, though, Daria and her classmates come to the realization that there’s more to each of them than meets the eye and that taking the time to get to know someone without snap judgments is really the best bet.
Babes Can Also Be Bums
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Daria’s first major crush is on (who else) Jane’s brother, Trent, a tattooed dreamboat of a rocker with several earrings and fledgling alternative band. Swoon city. She pines for him, she blushes when he speaks, she gets super nervous around him and can’t be her normal witty self. In other words, this crush is the real deal and, of course, unrequited. Trent spends most of his time sleeping and writing bad songs. This is still appealing to Daria. It isn’t until Daria visualizes Trent’s future, and boy is it bleak (picture future Trent: overweight, hairline receding and still not very motivated), that she realizes he might not be boyfriend material. Still, being easy on the eyes goes a long way.
Taking A Job You Hate Will Drive You Insane
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Mr. DeMartino hates his job. He hates it so much his eye bulges out of his head when he shouts sarcastic comments at his students, which is pretty much all of the time. It’s funny to witness but terrible to imagine. He’s a great teacher though, he taught me never, ever to settle for a career I despise because the cost is just too great. Now that’s solid advice.
It’s OK To Be Wrong Or To Change Your Mind
Daria is incredibly analytical. Often times, she could be considered overly analytical. And even more often, she creates problems for herself by stubbornly refusing to budge from her principles. I adore and applaud her strength of conviction, but occasionally her unwillingness to compromise creates trouble for her. It holds her back from new experiences and relationships and sometimes it even makes her act like a jerk. The good news is Daria isn’t so headstrong that she doesn’t eventually come to the conclusion that it’s OK to admit when you’re wrong about something and that having strong ideals doesn’t mean there is no room for compromise. Her imperfections make her relatable and her personal growth makes her admirable.
Any Problem Can Be Solved With a Slice of Pizza
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There is no dilemma, large or small, that cannot be solved by sharing your favorite food with your best pal. For Daria and Jane, it’s pizza (for me, it’s macaroni and cheese). Food can be super comforting, plain and simple. So after a disagreement or misadventure, Jane and Daria always find themselves in a booth at the pizza place sucking down sodas and gobbling up calories. For them, it is a sacred and safe place, where everything is right with the world, at least for a minute or two. It's a simple lesson that goes a long way; pizza solves problems.
The Social Norms of High School Continue Throughout Life
From episode #303- "Depth Takes a Holiday":
Jane: This is just like high school.
Daria: You know, I get the feeling we’ll be saying that all our lives.
Really, we will.