15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Daria’
On behalf of millions of young Gen Xers and elder Millennials who grew up in the 1990s, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mike Judge for giving us the wonderfully cynical and whip-smart Daria Morgendorffer in his animated series about two doofuses rocking out to music videos. In 1997, MTV spun Daria off from Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head, where she primarily showed up to drive home the point of how hilariously stupid the two titular bozos were.
Wanting girls to watch Beavis and Butt-Head as much as boys were at the time, Daria was first drawn on the back of a paper plate by supervising producer John Garrett Andrews. The ensuing show eventually became the creation of Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis, the two animators who would go on to produce the show without Judge, who was, by then, focused on King of the Hill instead. Daria would become the MTV Animation Department’s longest-running show, so let’s get into some trivia about the series that beat out Beavis and Butt-Head and made animation history...
The Voice Behind Daria Doesn’t Have Her Own Wikipedia Page
For reasons unknown to us common folk, Wikipedia doesn’t have an official English page for Tracy Grandstaff, the voice behind Daria Morgendorffer. However, she does have an Afrikaans page because South Africans apparently decided that such an omission simply won’t stand. According to the Daria Fandom page, Grandstaff is a writer, too, and has written for a couple of other MTV series, including The Tom Green Show. She was also at one point the only woman writer working on Beavis and Butt-Head, which is how she became the voice of Daria in the first place.
Marc Thompson Originally Auditioned for a MTV Vampire Show
For an oral history of the show, voice actor Thompson (who played quarterback Kevin Thompson, Mr. DeMartino and Mr. O’Neill) explained: “Daria was my first voiceover job. There was a posting on the corkboard at NYU saying MTV was auditioning for a cartoon about vampires — they had a phone number, and you literally were supposed to audition on the voicemail. That show didn’t go into production, but they said, ‘Hey, why don’t you also audition for this, too?’”
The Characters Were Blends of Celebs of the Era
Given that it was an MTV show and pop-culture branding was the order of the day, many of Daria’s characters were modeled around pop-culture relevance. Jane’s brother Trent, for instance, was an amalgamation of both Dave Navarro and Trent Reznor. And Mr. DeMartino was inspired by Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction, so much so that layout artist Karen Disher would pause her VHS tape of the movie every so often to get his facial expressions exactly right for the character.
‘Daria’ Spawned a 21st Century Music Subgenre
In 2021, a musician named Jane Remover (who also goes by “Leroy”) dropped some beats on Soundcloud dubbed “Dariacore,” that’s been called “pop music on steroids in the best way possible.” The subgenre seems to be a sort of deconstruction of pop and dance music, and the Daria reference is meant to be a joke on its influence. “A joke that’s been going on for too long,” Jane said.
‘Daria’ is Gender-Neutral
“One thing was very much a rule,” Disher told Variety. “Daria was always written gender-neutral. Glenn was very specific about that. There are no (episodes) where they’re talking about their periods or having slumber parties.”
The Show Took 13 Years to Be Released on DVD
When asked why the show only saw its release on DVD in 2010, Eichler told Animation Magazine: “That’s how long it took to clear all the music rights. It also had a lot to do with MTV. Every time they began working on the rights, they had another loopy hit, so their small home entertainment division had to put their resources on getting that show out. I guess we sort of got under the wire right before Jersey Shore!”
Daria Is a Licensed GPS Voice
NavTones licensed the voice of Daria in 2010 to be used for Garmin and TomTom GPS systems. You can watch Grandstaff record a bit of the voice below.
Daria Once Showed Up in ‘Family Guy’
In 2019, a Family Guy episode featuring a 1990s throwback of how Peter and Lois Griffin met saw Joe at one point partying it up at the MTV Beach House where he meets Daria. Of course, our favorite misanthropic high schooler immediately brushes Joe off, and he takes it as well as one would expect. Watch the scene below at the 1:40 mark.
Many viewers were confused about the Tom/Daria/Jane love triangle and felt that Jane would not have forgiven Daria for hooking up with her boyfriend. Quite a few fans also shipped Trent and Daria over Tom (God, no), which baffled Eichler. “I’d just like to state for the record here that as cool and fun as Trent was, any viewer who really thought that Daria and Trent could make a go of a relationship was just not watching the show we were making,” he once said about the topic. “Other than physical attraction and the fact that both of them were decent at the core, Daria and Trent could not have had less in common.”
As for the whole Tom situation, Eichler said they felt that Daria was “too formidable” for any high school boy to simply go up to and ask her on a date. They needed a proximity measure, and that ended up being Jane. “I thought the situation would allow us to explore and test Daria and Jane’s friendship,” he further explained. “That may have backfired because a percentage of the viewers thought that Jane would never have forgiven Daria in real life. Maybe that’s true. But maybe it’s not… You know, sometimes a person as impulsive as Jane gets into a relationship that’s not right, and it ends. That doesn’t make Tom a monster. You have to consider that Tom and Jane would have broken up even if Daria hadn’t been in the picture — they just weren’t right for each other.”
“— as well as my own personal inner dialogue from junior high and high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan — and Sara Gilbert (Darlene) from Roseanne, probably more than anyone.”
The Only Episode That Never Made It to Broadcast Was the Pilot
Everything the creators made ended up on our screens, except for the original pilot. “Sealed with a Kick” was like a test pilot for the animators to see what they could do stylistically. It’s just over five minutes long and, lucky for us, available on YouTube.
Who Daria Looks Like
John Garrett Andrews, the artist who first drew Daria on that aforementioned paper plate, said he modeled her after someone from his past. “It was a version somewhat inspired by my girlfriend senior year of high school, a smart but shy teenager with a sarcastic wit named Lindy Regan,” he admitted in a piece he wrote for HuffPost.
Audrey Plaza Makes a Fine Daria
In 2013, College Humor did a short featuring Aubrey Plaza as the cynical high schooler all grown up in Daria: High School Reunion.
The casting is so on point that it kind of boggles the mind why we haven’t seen a live-action movie yet, especially given that those “Sick, Sad World” segments would totally fit into today’s satirization of humanity.
The Creator Gave His Take on Life at the Morgendorffer House Following Daria’s Departure for College
When asked what life would be like for the Morgendorffer family without Daria, Eichler said, “I imagine Quinn would find herself the unhappy recipient of more parental attention from Helen. Helen and Jake would probably go into a deep funk over Daria’s departure and what it means to their own impending decrepitude. Jake would try to bond with Quinn and nearly give himself a stroke. Long silences would settle over the house. The days would drag and drag. Then Daria would come home for Columbus Day weekend, and everything would be fine.”
Eichler then added: “I’m KIDDING. Reduce the intensity of everything above by 3/4.”
Where Daria Would Be Today
“I think she’d be a writer on a talk show, similar to Glenn (who writes for The Colbert Report), writing like political commentary,” co-creator Suzie Lewis has said. “I do wonder — and this has no reflection on Glenn — how her navigation has been through her work life, and what kinds of success she’s had with her personality, and what kind of challenges. Because she is that person who doesn’t always fit in, but she is incredibly smart.”
I emphatically agree with Lewis on Daria ending up writing for a late-night show because, let’s be honest here: It totally sounds like a room full of Darias are writing segments like these…