Quinn is goaded by Sandi into volunteering to help with the school dance, but when the Fashion Club bails on her, she convinces Jane to take over the job. Sandi, meanwhile, plans her own party for the same night with the intent of upstaging Quinn.
When Mr. O'Neill asks for volunteers to help with the upcoming school dance, Quinn volunteers to head the dance committee -- after a volunteer-phobic Sandi eggs her on -- with the Fashion Club as her advisors. However, Quinn gets stuck with doing the job by herself when she and Sandi disagree on the decorations and the Fashion Club bails out. Quinn desperately tries to get out of it by telling Mr. O'Neill that her great-aunt died, but when that falls through, she manages to dump the project in Jane's lap (who doesn't really mind, as she sees this as a golden opportunity to make a grand artistic statement). The night of the dance, Sandi gives a party at her house, with several guys -- including Joey, Jeffy, Jamie, and Kevin (who had just had a fight with Brittany) -- in attendance. However, the party turns out to be a complete bust, and the guys bail out while the Fashion Club is changing into swimsuits for some hot-tubbing. At the school, the dance is in full swing, with Upchuck as the D.J., and Jane's decorations -- a vast mural in tribute to Jackson Pollack encompassing the whole gym -- are a huge hit. Quinn is mortified by the decor, but then takes full credit for it when her two dates start complimenting her on it and she realizes that the night is a success. Daria and Jane sit on the sidelines to watch the proceedings, and soon begin chatting it up with two guys whose attitudes and outlook on life seem to be very similar to theirs. However, they back off when they find out that the guys are Upchuck's cousins, and thus are "carriers of the dreaded Ruttheimer gene." Out in the parking lot, Brittany's date Robert gets into a fight with a jealous Kevin, and Joey, Jeffy and Jamie start fighting with Quinn's dates. In the end, Kevin and Brittany make up (while Kevin is being hauled away in an ambulance) and Daria and Jane figure that the whole evening was a wash... until it starts to snow, and they notice that the swimsuit-clad Fashion Club has been locked out of the house by Sandi's brothers.
Historical & Cultural References:
- The entire Fashion Club is now in the same English class, whereas in "Quinn the Brain" (#203), only Quinn and Stacy were in the same class.
- In the flashback scene, the young Sandi is shown to be wearing an outfit very similar to the one she wore in season one (and in The Daria Diaries).
- This episode proves conclusively that Joey, Jeffy and Jamie are on the football team, as evidenced by their scene with Kevin whey they appear in their football uniforms. This had been mentioned in "The Invitation" (#102), but hadn't been referred to again until this episode.
- Cedars of Lawndale Hospital's name is confirmed by Daria in this episode (it was too blurry to make out clearly in "Ill" (#209)).
- Quinn's refusal to slow dance "until after the fifth date" is further proof that she is "all talk and almost no action" when it comes to boys, as first seen in "This Year's Model" (#106) (where she refuses to touch the guys' bare chests during a modeling exercise).
- This episode is one of only five times that Andrea would have a speaking role. The other four episodes are "Cafe Disaffecto" (#104), "Too Cute" (#109), "Mart of Darkness" (#409), and "Is It College Yet?".
- Robert first appeared in "The New Kid" (#207) as one of the jocks that Ted humiliates (then befriends) in the virtual reality simulator. He also has non-speaking appearances in several later episodes.
- Jane's painting is a re-creation of Francisco Goya's "The Third of May 1814."
- Jake's mashed potato sculpture is a homage to the 1979 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (the scene where Richard Dreyfuss sculpts Devil's Tower out of his mashed potatoes).
- Jodie's "nuttin', honey" comment is a joke on the commercials for Kellogg's Nut & Honey cereal, which used the same tag line.
- Actress Mariel Hemingway is author Ernest Hemingway's granddaughter, though Stacy probably confused them simply because they have the same last name.
- Artist Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) became widely known as a leader of the "abstract expressionist" movement before his death in an automobile accident (which Jane depicted in her mural in Pollock-esque fashion).
- Judging by the end of the episode, Lawndale is located far enough north that it can snow and get cold at night (though an exact location is as elusive as always).
Brittany - Jane, your picture's full of bloody people! That's not a still life!
Jane - Sure it is. The blood's the reason they're so still.
Brittany - Hmph! For your information, there are plenty of guys who think I'm pretty and smart!
Daria - You can visit them at the Cedars of Lawndale head injury ward.
Brittany - Then you just go ahead and do that because it's, it's over! And this time I mean it!
Kevin - Oh, yeah? It's double over for me!
Jane - You don't really think...
Daria - Forget it. That species mates for life.
Jake - School dances suck! (stabs mashed potatoes)
Helen - Jake! Here, make a guest house. (spoons potatoes onto plate)
Jake - All right!
Jake - How come Quinn never introduces us to her friends?
Daria - Why don't you ask the little people who live in your potatoes?
Kevin - I can't get one cheerleader to go to the dance with me. I don't get it.
Jane - Maybe you're losing your looks.
Daria - Or maybe you're losing your mind.
Kevin - You think I'm losing my looks?
Daria - Cheer up. I'm sure there are plenty of non-cheerleaders who would be happy to waste three hours of their lives at a dance with you.
Kevin - Oh, wait. I see where this is going. Hey, Daria, no offense, but no way. I mean, what are you thinking?
Daria - Huh?
Kevin - Gotta go.
Jane - (yells) But what about the baby?!!
Brittany - I can't believe it. No one has asked me to the dance! Am I losing my looks?
Andrea - (walks past) They're gaining their senses.
Brittany - Wow! Jodie, no wonder you're an honor student!
Jodie - Yeah, all that note-taking and studying is just to kill time between my friends' romantic crises.
Brittany - You ought to try watching TV. (leaves)
Mack - Hey, what's she so happy about?
Jodie - Nuttin', honey.
Sandi - Outdoor turbo-jet hot tub.
Quinn - Preferred seating for the popular.
Sandi - Green Bay on big screen!
Quinn - D.J. on dance floor!
Sandi - Miniskirt!
Quinn - Strapless!
Both - (to guys) Well?!!
Jeffy - My head hurts!
Jamie - Mine, too.
Joey - Oh, man!
Quinn - A hundred dollars. It's yours. All you have to do is be my dance committee.
Daria - Put away the cash; I'll do it for free.
Quinn - You will?!
Daria - Sure. And after that, we can play Mystery Date and have a taffy pull.
Daria - I hate to tell you, but your conceptual piece is a big hit.
Jane - Couldn't just let me enjoy the moment, could you? Althought I am impressed you braved a high school dance to support the arts.
Daria - I've come, I've seen, let's go.
Jane - Uh-oh. We've been spotted.
Daria - Well, I don't feel like talking to anyone.
Jane - That's a shocker. Don't worry, I'll get rid of them.
Brad - Hi. Cool decorations, huh?
Jane - Have a seat.
Daria - That's telling them.
Sandi - Where are all the guys? I mean, how long does it take them to change?
Tiffany - I heard a bunch of cars leaving earlier.
Sandi - Well, why didn't you say anything?!
Tiffany - I figured they belonged to a really big family.
Daria - Let's do the math one more time. Your decorations were a huge hit.
Jane - Plus.
Daria - But my sister managed to take complete credit for them.
Jane - Minus.
Daria - We hung out with a couple of guys who weren't so bad.
Jane - Plus.
Daria - But they turned out to be carriers of the dreaded Ruttheimer gene.
Jane - Big minus.
Daria - So, we're more or less even on the night.
Jane - Darn. And it came so close to turning out semi-decent.
(snow begins to fall)
Sandi - (pounds on door) Come on, you little punk, open up! Open this door, you little brat!
Tiffany - Oh, my God, let us in! Hello?
Both - Plus!
Delayed Reaction Review
The bitter battle for control of the Fashion Club continues as a subplot in this episode. Sandi convinces Quinn to volunteer to be the head of the dance activities because she equates volunteering with being used based on her own experience, which can be true but isn't necessarily true. After saying how great a job Quinn can do (with a hint of sarcasm, of course), she does everything in her power to undermine Quinn's efforts. Tiffany and Stacy are just pawns in this whole struggle for power with no real influence over the outcome. Tiffany is just an ass kisser or "yes man" who agrees with anyone who is making almost any comment. Stacy, on the other hand, wants to support Quinn but is afraid of Sandi causing her bodily harm (she couldn't even handle Sandi's evil eye). It will be interesting to see how this turns out.
Kevin and Brittany also get into some minor skirmishes in this episode. The mere mention of a dance is what caused it because of a bad situation that occurred at a previous event. Exactly what those circumstances were really isn't important. Brittany made a scene with the "it's over" speech, more or less, as a show for Kevin's benefit, almost like a plea for him to prove himself worthy. Kevin eventually responds by going to the dance and winning back her love. Their relationship is cyclic (with a high frequency); one minute they can't be separated, the next they don't want to even be near one another. Daria's comment was right on target: this species mates for life.
Passing the Buck:
One thing that Quinn is good at is redirecting her responsibilities to those around her. This is what she tried to do to Daria and ultimately did to Jane through a bribe. Daria didn't bite; she either has fallen victim to this sort of manipulation before or knows enough about her sister not to get involved. However, Jane was a willing party and did want to exert some control over Lawndale and make this dance her own. Apparently, she did a fine job and created a memorable night for all despite not receiving any recognition for doing so. Quinn promptly took the recognition and praise when she realized that the night was a success.
Both Jake and Mr. O'Neill have an opportunity to show how "manly" they are. First, Jake puts a lot of himself into his mashed potato sculptures. He goes from angry at the girl who stood him up, to happy about getting more potatoes, to confused about what was going on, in a matter of seconds. This is overly volatile, even for Jake, and he seems to be getting more outrageous every time we see him. Mr. O'Neill obsesses over the small talk he will engage with the love of his life, which ultimately wasn't necessary. His whole role seemed to be a lot of set up for not much payoff (some of his preparation could have been cut out without any serious problems).
"Daria Dance Party" was the first time that an episode that didn't feature Daria prominently was successful. This episode centered more on some of the internal personal struggles that are present at Lawndale. Most of the subplots were cleverly concluded; I especially liked the unexpected snowstorm after Sandi and company was locked outside in their bathing suits. Daria and Jane ended up not gaining much directly from the experience (see their "math" at the end of the episode) but compared to how some of the other characters fared, they did alright. This was a solid episode.
The Bottom Line:
I am not in favor of dances of any kind. However, they can result in many amusing situations like this one did.
Daria as a Whole #1, Fight!
Joey, Jeffy and Jamie seem to be getting complacent about their relationship with Quinn. They opt for Sandi's party and then have to be reminded to fight for her honor. Way back when they first met her they would fight anyone to protect her.
Daria as a Whole #2, Speed Bump on the Way to Love:
Daria seemed to appreciate those two guys they met at the dance based on their conversation. Both her and Jane were interested until their lineage was revealed.
Daria as a Whole #3, Alter Ego (Current Events Division):
I usually don't comment about the alter egos shown with the credits because they aren't episode specific. However, when the one with Ms. Barch (as Monica Lewinsky) embracing the commander-in-chief came up, I literally fell out of the chair in which I was sitting.
Copyright © 1999 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.