General Buck Conroy,
Daria objects when talent scouts from a modeling agency visit Lawndale High and entice several students, including Quinn, into their modeling workshop, with a promise of a big-time modeling contract.
Ms. Li is positively beside herself when she announces that Claude and Romonica, two talent scouts from the Amazon Modeling Agency, are to visit Lawndale High to look for potential models. Daria objects, naturally, pointing out the drawbacks of dropping out of school to pursue a career that's essentially over at age 25, but is paid no heed by Ms. Li (who's receiving a "small fee" for the school's cooperation). She can't even convince Jodie, who thinks it's perfectly fine since it's voluntary, and there's no way she'll convince Brittany, who believes that her dream is about to be fulfilled. When Claude and Romonica arrive, they take an interest in Brittany (and her, ah, "assets"), but immediately lock onto Jane and Daria. Jane immediately alienates them with a nasty caricature, and Daria blows them off with her usual sarcasm. Helen and Jake share Daria's concerns, a position that's put to the test when Quinn announces that she's been accepted into the class. Against her better judgment, and with a little coaxing by phone from Romonica, Helen allows Quinn to attend the open class, but that's it... then she's astonished when Daria easily agrees to keep an eye on her (which, of course, is for her own purposes: she senses "the total humiliation of Quinn" to be imminent). At the class, Claude and Romonica instruct the girls and the guys in rudimentary modelling moves, while Daria and Jane console a devastated Brittany (who wasn't accepted into the class). Things swiftly spiral out of control, however, when the girls are instructed to start rubbing the guys' chests, an action that Quinn refuses to take part in. When Ms. Li wanders into the auditorium to check up on things, she immediately shuts down the class as soon as she sees what is happening. The next day, Ms. Li gathers the students into the auditorium to announce the winner of the modelling contract. As she's about to announce the winner, a group of mercenaries marches into the auditorium, and the group's leader, General Buck Conroy, starts his recruitment speech. When Ms. Li objects, Conroy explains that she was the one who invited both him and the news media. Ms. Li is humiliated -- thanks to Daria, who was actually the one that called Conroy and the media -- and Quinn is devastated when she discovers that Kevin, of all people, has won the modelling contract.
Historical & Cultural References:
- This episode is the first time we see that Quinn is "all talk and almost no action" when it comes to boys: she won't touch the guys' bare chests here, and in "Daria Dance Party" (#304), we learn that she won't even slow dance until after the fifth date. This is a change from "Esteemsters" (#101), when she talks about "movie, burger, back seat."
- The book being discussed in Mr. O'Neill's class is Henry David Thoreau's Walden, or Life in the Woods & Other Writings.
- Brittany mistakes Thoreau's Walden Pond with the 1981 film On Golden Pond, which starred Katherine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, and Jane Fonda.
- The "Malibu Primate Diet" (i.e. apes eating parasites from each other) is a pun on Malibu resident Aajonus Vonderplanitzís "Primal Diet," which consists of eating only raw food, including live bugs, thus supposedly curing people from every disease imaginable.
Jane - I've said it before, I'll say it again: you have the coolest room.
Daria - It's got pros and cons. You can't hurt yourself in here, but you can't hurt anybody else in here, either.
Jane - Well, I for one am very excited about this. I can feel myself getting into the modeling spirit.
Ms. Li - Excellent!
Jane - May I be excused? I'd like to go to the girls' room and vomit up breakfast.
Jodie - It's completely voluntary. What's the problem?
Daria - No problem. But why stop at modeling? Maybe there's a go-go bar downtown that would like to come here and recruit lap dancers.
Jodie - Don't mention that idea to Brittany.
Claude - (sees Daria) Oh, look at you. So waif-like... so pouty. Could you remove your glasses?
Daria - Could you remove your halter top?
Claude - Pardon?
Daria - I can't take my glasses off. I need them to see scam artists.
(Claude and Romonica look shocked)
Helen - You really feel strongly about this.
Daria - What do you mean?
Helen - Well... you're talking to us.
Helen - I don't think you realize that modeling is an extremely competitive activity...
Quinn - So is dating, if you do it right.
Helen - ...in which your value as a human being is decided entirely on how you look.
Quinn - When does the bad part come in?
Quinn - You gotta let me do this! You always say I can be anything I want to be!
Helen - Yes, we do say that.
Daria - That reminds me. May I become the Queen of Brazil?
Quinn - I'm writing a poem about what a great model I'd be. I'm going to recite it for Claude and Romonica. (clears throat) "A model's what I'd like to be... looking good comes naturally... da da da da, da da, me."
Daria - That's it, send the other girls home.
Fashion Thugs vs. Drug Dealers:
Daria and Jane were right: they're not necessarily against people trying to become models, but do they really have to hold a class at the school itself? It's almost as if the people who make the decisions at Lawndale don't think their students are good enough to get "real" jobs and this is their best chance they have of making it. (sarcasm alert) I guess those test scores are through the roof!
While on the subject, what school needs bullet proof skylights for their swimming pool (I would love to hear the story behind that one, sounds interesting)? It's good that they want to make some money for the school, but if the skylights are the most vital need they have, then they don't need the money that badly. The way they tried to get the money was equally dubious. Since when can someone like Claude or Romonica interrupt and take over a class unannounced (don't everyone jump on this -- my point is that they weren't supposed to do that and they didn't suffer any consequences)?
The fashion thugs really did get to Daria. She actually had to vent and (gasp!) talk to her parents. Helen said as much in the conversation. Daria had her typical reaction when they agreed: she said she would reconsider her position (a joke, I think). The kicker was that Helen pities the parents of kids sucked into all the hoopla. Like we need more self pity.
Brittany has a lot of "lifelong dreams" besides being a model: being Kevin's girlfriend (which turned sour later in the episode), winning the high school cheerleading championships and helping starving children round out the list. I don't really have anything else to point out here, I just thought it was funny to see her confusion over her innermost dreams.
This time while I was watching, I knew it was coming, but the first time I saw this episode I was confused at how the modeling thing was resolved. It was clever how Daria used (supposedly) Ms. Li's deal with the modeling agency to make it look like she was selling out the school to anyone with a little bit of money. But the mercenaries were out of place, and it felt like they didn't quite know how to end the show.
I'm not a big fan of the fashion type Quinn-centric episodes like this one because, frankly, I don't and can't understand this sort of thing. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of funny moments throughout the entire episode, but they didn't really mesh the plot together. It was good to see Ms. Li backed into an inescapable corner by the war mongers (she couldn't deny it since she did let the models in; I'm not a big fan of hers anyway). Overall, I was bored.
Copyright © 1998 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved]. Used with permission. The views presented here are those of the author, and may or may not necessarily be those of Outpost Daria Reborn.