Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Return of Beavis and Butthead Should Not Mean the Return of Daria.

I wouldn't exactly call Beavis and Butthead a voice of a generation, or a show that I even watched all that much, but it has certainly left a lasting impression.  It was arguably MTV's most popular show other than The Real World during the 1990's, an era that saw MTV shift away from it's music oriented programming to totally not scripted reality shows. But, while The Real World was the catalyst for MTV's programming change, it's Beavis and Butthead that solidified the change with dried semen in a sock.  Kids liked it because it reminded them of those two weird dudes who sat in the back of math class spending the entire period making fart noises and giggling.  Adults hated it because to them the show verified their beliefs that teenagers have the IQ of turkey gravy.  Adults also believed the show was corrupting America's youth more effectively than Marilyn Manson giving President Clinton a blow job could spark teenage goth orgies.

Obviously, all kids in America are going to buy a motorcycle and watch "Easy Rider."
The only reason Beavis and Butthead ended was because the shows creator, Mike Judge, got bored with the show and decided it had run out of dick puns.  He spent the following years creating a spin off show about rednecks or something called King of the Hill and created the awesomeness that is the movie Office Space which stuck it to the man harder in 90 minutes than a month of Occupy Wall Street drum circles.  However, it would be another spin off from Beavis and Butthead that Mike Judge had nothing to do with that would become easily the smartest written anything MTV has ever done.  That show was Daria and it is one of the best shows ever made.

 Although, she doesn't care what I think

Daria is a show about a high school girl named, well, Daria and her everyday life.  She is unlike your typical high school character as she is comfortable being who she is, intelligent without being a nerd, doesn't give a shit about her popularity, and dresses like she is going to a Smashing Pumpkins concert every day.  Somehow, MTV made a show about a high school girl who doesn't easily fit in any high school archetype, which is a risk Hollywood would never take since failure means cutting the cocaine budget.  (And for me to type that previous sentence, I had to slam a door shut on my hands to get them to write anything complementing MTV).  Daria is the type of girl I probably would have had a crush on but never would have acted upon since I would have thought I'd be rejected via her sarcastic wit.  I was never a Daria type of person in high school but I think the reason I enjoyed the show was because I wish I was.

I think everybody knew somebody, or was somebody, in the show because all of the secondary characters were high school archetypes.  There certainly was Daria's sister Quinn and her fashion, popularity, and rank obsessed friends in my high school.  They were the girls everybody wanted to date but couldn't unless you were up to date on the latest Seventeen magazine.  The show had the typical quarterback and cheerleader couple who constantly accused one of cheating on the other and were so stupid they probably thought having a diet with enough iron in it meant eating dimes.  There was the rock band led by Daria's crush for a few seasons, Trent, who was basically a music obsessed wash out that the show never confirmed did drugs but probably saw an actual Lucy in the sky with diamonds from time to time.  There was Daria's best friend Jane, who was the typical artist student but not depressed, surprisingly open, and probably became a suicide girl after high school.  And you can't forget Daria's parents, the business mom and the comedic foil dad, who helped give a little insight to Daria's off putting personality since her parents where about as grounded to high school reality as Scientology.  Plus, I think Daria's dad is the same dad in Malcolm in the Middle since they are practically the same character.

Unlike this comparison.  Totally different.

The show is very clever in that most episodes deal with typical situations in high school without it feeling like the fake, plastic, "like, oh my god" style high school treatment most media portrays it as.  It's not a soap opera about being the prom queen and it's not a gross out comedy about losing your virginity.  The show is exactly what MTV isn't and it makes me wonder how MTV had that moment of clarity where they realized Puff Daddy was not the answer to all of life's mysteries.  It's almost ironic that the network who most glamorizes high school life is also the one to air the show that most accurately portrayed it.

 Still waiting for the TV show that shows a classroom with no windows.

Daria did really well during its run.  It's arguably as popular as the roots of Daria's character, Beavis and Butthead.  However, Daria never had the pop culture influence that Beavis and Butthead did because it was just an exceedingly well written show.  Beavis and Butthead has almost no writing, was controversial, and kind of pointless.  MTV, of course, has decided to bring back Beavis and Butthead since they are the only two characters in the history of the network that is dumber than the networks viewership.  Daria, I fear, would be too smart for today's modern MTV audience who thinks getting pregnant at 16 might get them an endorsement deal and that the best way to get famous is to be a raging dickhead (men) or show your vagina to anybody with a camera (women).

Now that Beavis and Butthead is back, MTV must realize that bringing back Daria would be a terrible idea.  Don't get me wrong, I loved Daria, but a modernized version would look ridiculous regardless of the audience.  That show was so 90's, the characters could have played a game of Pogs with Kurt Cobain and it would have seemed completely normal.  They could have written an entire episode where the characters sit at a computer and just type famous Simpsons quotes in an AOL chatroom, and that would be an accurate description of my middle school self.  This show knew me better than I knew myself.  

Despite the subject matter of many Daria episodes holding up really well even today, a reboot would need to completely update the characters.  Would Daria even have a Facebook profile?  She doesn't seem like the type.  Would she be an Apple fangirl?  Too trendy.  Would Quinn star on 16 and pregnant?  Doubtful since she seemed to use her sexuality to get things, not actually fuck anybody.  Would Kevin, the quarterback on the show, be addicted to steroids and fly off the handle after anybody questioned his intelligence?  Probably and it would totally ruin his character.  Modernizing these characters would be as effective as a modern version of The Honeymooners and not having Jackie Gleason's character arrested for domestic violence.  It would work as well as making a new Rambo movie staring Bumblebee from Transformers.

  Now she lives in a box.  That's what 2011 kids do right?  Live in boxes?

On the other hand, Beavis and Butthead works because that series basically has not plot.  It really doesn't.  It's just a TV show about two morons doing moronic things.  However, in the new show, the characters mock MTV's own shows since mocking music videos would just be a constant reminder of how much MTV has treated it's roots like a dollar store blow up doll.  (Plus, this idea is so meta, MTV might become the first truly self aware network). I am not opposed to a Daria cameo in this show as long as it's just that, a cameo.  If she becomes a recurring character again I will...make some sort of sarcastic joke then move on.  That's what Daria would have done.  She's so smart.

Daria was a great show for that time in history.  I was at the right age for it and there is no way a modernized show could even come close.  The show was so good that by the end of it, I started to care about Quinn despite her being the antithesis to Daria.  It's rare to see a show grow a character so well that the audience actually cares about their story and it's not the main character.  That would be like creating a Super Mario Bros. movie where the audience cared about Luigi.  There is no way in hell MTV could possibly pull this off since the writing staff they would hire would be made up of three monkeys, an energy drink salesmen, and The Situation's illegitimate Filipino son.  Even if the writers were competent, the network execs would dumb it down.  The show can't be too smart otherwise the audience will get scared, angry, or possibly even realize MTV's other shows feels like watching a documentary on castration. 

So just leave Daria alone.  Its legacy is fine.  Although, it is too bad the legacy didn't include turning MTV into a good network.  Then maybe MTV would have realized The Real World was less real than an a scripted animated show.

Disclaimer:  This article is satirical and opinionated.  A modern Daria would only work if MTV had nothing to do with it and also, it not being Daria.

Follow me on Twitter.  Like the blogs Facebook page.  Contact me at robothookerparty@comcast.net

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...