While working on the yearbook staff, Daria meets new student Ted, a sheltered, formerly home-schooled teen with a combination of arcane knowledge and extreme naïveté. Despite his strange ways, and strident denials, she finds herself oddly attracted to the boy.
After being pestered by Jodie -- and after a promise of web page software by her parents -- Daria joins the yearbook photography team in order to gain an extracurricular credit. There she meets Ted DeWitt-Clinton, a new kid at Lawndale High who had, until recently, been home-schooled by his parents. Ted takes an instant liking to Daria, having been impressed by her photographs, and Daria -- while remaining skeptical of Ted's actions -- finds herself oddly attracted to his strange combination of sweetness, naïveté, and obscure knowledge. Everyone else, from Jane to her parents, either thinks he's in some sort of weird cult or hates him for convincing Mr. DeMartino to reduce the number of yearbook pages devoted to sports and clubs (a suggestion that was inadvertently prompted by an offhand comment from Daria). Quinn is convinced that Daria has a thing for Ted, and tries to convince Daria to get the sports and club pages restored, to no avail. Daria vehemently (and repeatedly) denies that she and Ted are an item, and she starts to wonder if even hanging out with him is a good idea when she goes to his house for a visit and is immersed in the simple lifestyle he's lead to date. (He's never even chewed gum!) Ted's rabidly overprotective parents definitely think it's a bad idea, as Daria's gift to Ted of a Beatles tape seems to prove that she's "corrupting" their son. Unable to handle it any longer, Daria tells Ted that they can't hang out any longer, and immediately feels guilty for blowing him off for no other reason than he was being nice to her. Taking advantage of the situation, Quinn tries again to convince Daria to speak to Mr. DeMartino by setting her up on a date with a dumb-as-rocks football player, a date that goes about as well as you might expect. When Ted successfully fends off angry football players and club members, an impressed Daria asks him out for an evening of pizza and video arcade games. The latter proves to be a huge mistake, however, as Ted gets wrapped up in the arcade's virtual reality simulator and makes friends with some of the popular crowd. This pretty much ends his relationship with Daria, who finds herself on the outside once again. She figures she can console herself with the fact that they're "fighting the good fight" with the yearbook, but even that is denied her when a battered and bruised Mr. DeMartino informs her that the sports and club pages are being restored (thanks to a butt-kicking by Ms. Barch, head of the science club). The final indignity comes when Daria finds out that her parents had given her web page software to Quinn, who used it to create her own web page (well, actually, one of the computer geeks at school did it for her). To console herself, Daria shows Quinn that web pages aren't the only things that can be hit.
Historical & Cultural References:
- Daria's skills with a camera harken all the way back to the Beavis and Butt-head episode "Sporting Goods," where Daria worked on the Highland High School newspaper and was fortunate(?) enough to snap a photo of B&B wearing athletic supporters (which were actually racquetball patches, since even the smallest ones were too large for them!).
- Daria's involvement with Ted could be considered her first relationship with a boy, though it's mainly one-sided and doesn't last long (and doesn't take into account her crush on Trent). It's a prelude to her eventual romantic relationship with Tom Sloane.
- Robert would appear again in "Daria Dance Party" (#304) (as Brittany's "make Kevin jealous" date) and "I Loathe a Parade" (#406) (on the Lawndale Lions float), as well as a background character in other episodes.
- "The shrink-wrap never comes off that software." -- To combat theft (both physical and electronic), most stores will not accept returns of software that has been removed from its packaging, including the mere removal of the shrink-wrap around the box.
- The WPA is the Work Projects Administration, a program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. This "New Deal" program's goal was to get people back to work during the Great Depression.
- DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828) was the mayor of New York City from 1803 to 1815, and governor of New York from 1817 to 1823. He is largely responsible for the creation of the 363-mile long Erie Canal, which provided an important shipping link between Lake Erie and the Hudson River.
- The first steam locomotive in the United States was known as the "DeWitt-Clinton Locomotive," named for the aforementioned Mr. Clinton.
A Question of Ethics:
A lot of unethical things happened in this episode and most of them involved the yearbook. Mr. DeMartino really shouldn't have taken pages away from sports and clubs -- he should have added more pages and upped the price. By the same token, Ms. Barch shouldn't have kicked his ass to get the pages back. Ted's parents had no real business telling Jake and Helen how to raise their daughter, and Daria had no right to give Ted gum (he did take it, though -- who is at fault there?).
Defender of the Sword (nothing to do with virtual reality):
Ted may have been quirky but his "involvement'"with Daria caused her to act very defensively. At first, this behavior may have been justified to get Jake, Helen and Quinn off her back, but they must have been worse than we were led to believe. This is evidenced by Daria's reaction to Jane saying "oh, brother" (Daria said either "he's not a brother" or "there is no cult" as a response). The stress seems to have gotten to her brain...
Alvin, Simon, Ted (as in Theodore):
Ted ran the gamut of modes and activity. First he was curious and talkative, then he showed joyous excitement over getting a piece of gum, then he called Daria shallow (a supreme insult in itself) and said that she would get along with Quinn, and finally he became "almost interesting" after going to the arcade (I wonder how his parents took that one). He seemed to go with the flow in his own innocent sort of way and took the hits as they came.
Major continuity plus points to the writer of this episode for remembering that Daria has an interest, talent or both for photography, as seen at least once during her Beavis and Butt-head days. They even showed her carrying her camera around -- some things don't change. (Note: I was running out of opinions, good or bad, about specific parts of this episode and needed this section to fill it out, so to speak.)
I did laugh out loud a couple of times, but I can't say that I enjoyed this episode; it was too weird for me. Ted probably won't be back (except maybe in the background), but I can't say I'll miss him. As some people have pointed out, Daria is not doing anything to come out on top in second season episodes like she did in earlier ones. "The New Kid" is probably the best example of that phenomenon -- she doesn't get the yearbook pages, Ted won't even talk to her anymore, she didn't get to exchange the software, and she didn't try anything that could have swayed things in her direction (all she did was beat up Quinn and she probably does that a lot anyway). To top it all off, the virtual reality scenes were virtual crap. The episode made me want to "hit" something too: the channel changer.
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.