In my number #1 essay, I talked about the personality of Daria Morgendorffer and the Barksdale-Morgendorffer family dynamics. Now, in my number #3 essay, I’m going to talk about other families we see on the show. Note: under “family” I mean a pair of parents and at least one child. Thus, I won’t be talking about Ms. Barch or Mr. O’Neill any time soon – certainly not in this essay. If you’re disappointed, drop now; if not – go ahead. Now then:
The Griffins (& the Fashion club). We all know Sandi Griffin: the president of the Fashion Club (Quinn Morgendorffer is the Vice-President), and the oldest child of the Griffin family. (It is curious to note that they’re named after a flying-lion like mythical monster if anyone is in that sort of trivia.) She has two younger brothers Sam and Chris – who are probably no more than half her age (or maybe she’s exceptionally tall, but I doubt it.) Now then, what do we know of Sandi Griffin?
Well, basically, she’s a pain in the butt – of generally everyone. Quinn and her lock horns every-so-often, other students (those who are in the intellectual group like Daria, Jane and Jodie Landon) also don't rate her very high. And the reason why?
Sandi Griffin is a control freak. She controls the Fashion Club – not that it is too hard to do something like that. Tiffany seems to be growing dimmer and dimmer as time passed in Lawndale, while Stacy and Quinn are not quite sure in their own abilities.
Oops. Wasn't it mentioned in the Morgendorffer-based essay that Quinn is insecure in her abilities – just like Stacy? Well, admittedly, it’s not that extreme (nobody can be that extremely insecure as Stacy). But Quinn too isn't quite secure in her thinking abilities – partially (at least) due to Daria’s influence. Whatever else one could say about Daria Morgendorffer, she is a straight-A student, and a bit smarter than an average person and possibly Quinn knows that she can’t compete in that area, so she tries to be perky and popular instead. Just like Stacy, too.
But Sandi… Sandi isn't quite secure in her abilities herself. The Fashion Club is rather like “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”. Sandi’s overzealous control may come from the fact that she isn't totally sure about her capability to lead and got along only with the fact that Stacy is even less sure of herself (considerably less) and Tiffany seems indifferent to the “attraction of power”. That girls just doesn't like to think.
Then along comes Quinn Morgendorffer, and the situation changes. Quinn is also insecure and so she fits-in into the Fashion club quite nicely – to a limit. The limit is because both she and Sandi are on equal footing, and the two naturally begin to elbow and manoeuvre around each other almost immediately. And when Brooke (who is a naturally suck-up and almost as bad as Stacy) re-appears on the scene, naturally Sandi almost gets rid of Quinn.
But why would Sandi be so “bad” as a person? Well, the popular opinion (and I don't see why it must be wrong – in this case) is because of her mother, Mrs. Griffin. In the “Prom” episode we see a flash-back of Sandi’s, how she is “tutored” by her mother, and how she uses her advice on Quinn. Adding the facts that Sandi’s brothers are too young and too spoilt (though they got nothing on Brian Taylor) and her father Tom Griffin (don't confuse with Tom Sloane, Jane’s and Daria’s ex-boyfriend) is mostly a back-ground figure, it’s possibly quite safe to state that unlike with the Morgendorffers (well the Barksdale part of the Morgendorffers, and Quinn does seem to take more after her mother Helen), the insecurity stain runs quite deep in the Griffin family. According to “Daria Diaries”, Linda Griffin once held a job as a TV news anchor – very briefly, though. Now, as the president of Lawndale Businesswomen Association, Linda Griffin is possibly richer than she was before but quite possibly that she is still resentful about losing the more-glamorous job on the TV. She probably needs help herself, and so does Sandi now, ‘cause she models herself after her mother, and Linda Griffin isn't a very good role model, if you ask me. However, Tom Griffin, who seems to be too much like Tiffany Blum-Deckler, is an even worse one.
And so, the verdict for the Griffin family (& the Fashion Club) is insecurity, mixed with indifference or uncaring. This does not bode a healthy future.
The Landons. A different case from the Griffins. Although parallels can be made (five people in the family, business-oriented, etc), this is nothing more but coincidence (or the lack of imagination of the script-writers). Although, while Jodie may also appear to be insecure from time to time (more about it a little later), that is so not the case with Andrew and Michelle Landon.
Now what can be said of them? Deeply ambitious people. So’s Linda Griffin, of course, but the Landons have more power – Michelle, for instance, was the vice-president of the Woman’s World till she had baby Evan and left. Now I don't want to be the one to step onto a sore foot, but why hasn’t she returned? I'm sure that a baby-sitter could be managed for Evan and Rachael now – so why Michelle Landon still a housewife (certainly not the role she fancies herself in). Personally, I suspect Andrew Landon, who is as bad as a control freak as Linda Griffin is. But if Linda’s (and Sandi’s) overzealous control comes from insecurity, Andrew’s control comes from security. The man is obviously used to getting his own way – and doesn't like independence in his family members. One bit. The trouble is that Michelle also used to bossing than to serving and I daresay likes to spite him every once in a while. But not much, for whatever reason of her own. Maybe she really loves him, maybe there’s some other reason why she can't come back to her old job – who knows? But because of this frustration Michelle Landon is such a crusader of black-peoples’-right – and Helen Morgendorffer seems to start every time the two meet. The cause for tension between two women is that Helen is everything Michelle isn’t – a mother and a careerist. (Keep in mind that the Landons never seen the Morgendorffer family in private.) And all of the resentment that Michelle Landon caries “under her belt” instantly gets a natural external catalyst – one never sees a more business-oriented person than Helen Morgendorffer.
But onwards to Jodie. What about her? Like her mother she too moulds herself to her father’s plans – but with the not-too-subtle friction from her mother. Both of the Landon parents want to see their dreams realized via Jodie – and never mind what Jodie’s own plans are. Naturally Jodie is disgruntled – and Daria doesn't make things too easy for her now. The two girls are closely matched in their IQ scale (even Jane isn’t as smart as Daria), and naturally Jodie feels competition. Of course, Daria’s social skills better only than Tiffany Blum-Deckler’s, but Jodie isn’t a social queen herself. She’s the vice-president of the school council instead and dates Michael Jordan Mackenzie, the captain of the football team. Their relationship is something else again, for Jodie is currently too busy to have a social life of her own. Adding the fact that Daria Morgendorffer who is everything that Jodie isn't gives her the run for her money, makes Jodie very viable for a serious social break-down – unless she finds a way to blow-off steam (like not go to college when she graduates, but hitch-hike her way through Europe instead).
As for Jodie’s younger siblings – Rachael and Evan, well, Evan’s too little to be off any importance, while Rachael is the mirror-side of Jodie – and the two girls are like Daria and Quinn, reversed. If Quinn can at least rely on her appearance and personality (or persona) to find a niche where she is better than her sister, Rachael is currently lacking such escape route, and may grow-up to be a Daria-like person yet. (That’s something to think about!)
Now about Andrew Landon. Quite naturally he was put in a rather unflattering light so far, and for good reason. But he too has personal problems – though they seem to have found a solution lately. You see, it is possible, that Andrew Landon – just like Jake Morgendorffer – was much domineered by his father in his teenage years. But unlike Jake, who know feels a mixture of fear and hate towards his father, Andrew probably learned all he needed from his. And now – feel his pain: until recently, he had only daughters to pass his father’s wisdom along. Naturally Evan is his favourite: “I'm proud of my girls, but hey! – Evan is my son,” he tells proudly to Jake (who probably wouldn't mind having a boy child as well. Oh well.). So, quite possible, the control will be eased-of Jodie (a bit), and Rachael may not have the type of problems like her sister faces (then again, neither she does now).
The Taylors. Now there’s a break in the pattern. The Taylors are a step-family – namely, the Taylor kids – Brittany and Brian – have a father, Steve, and a stepmother, Ashley-Amber. Well, how does it affect them?
Not favourably (it appears that all of “Daria” characters have problems). As anyone can see, Ashley-Amber isn’t quite the motherly model, everyone seems to think her as Brittany’s older sister. Unfortunately, Brittany herself doesn't seem to get it, and so patterns herself after her stepmother to if not the letter, then at least the word.
And Steve Taylor himself. Not a very good father model again. One wonders, why did his first wife – Brittany’s and Brian’s mother – divorce him in the first place. Quite possibly because he’s a smug bastard – almost like Charles Ruttheimer the III – aka Upchuck. Only if Upchuck can be knocked some sense into – literally – then Steve Taylor is quite safe from such treatment. And that affects his kids. Brian Taylor, according to the popular consensus, is semi-sadistic and may need therapy even in “Daria”-world – something to be considered. And Brittany will probably grow-up into her step-mother – a giggly blonde bimbo, most likely to marry a man like her father (or Kevin Thomson, though Mrs. Thomson may have another view on that matter) – somebody who may not be quite “me-me-me-me”, but getting there most probably. Not a good fate to look-up for. ‘Course, it is hinted through some episodes, that Brittany is smarter than she looks and not quite “spoilt” by her father and stepmother’s example – like in the episode with the paintball park. For all we know, she may be the “wild card” in “Daria deck” yet.
The Thomsons. And last but not least (except in brains) Kevin Thomson. Again a break-in-the-pattern – he’s the youngest child. Well, that explains some things. The Thomsons – they aren't the smartest people themselves, of course, and poorer than other families we see on “Daria” but they can probably afford to spoil Kevin – not that it is terribly hard. Also, judging from the college episode Kevin’s brothers – who are mentioned but never ever seen on the show – have IQs of about Kevin’s level or ever-so-slightly higher. That doesn't bode good for Kevin. He is a good-natured idiot – but an idiot all the same. However, the other Thomsons, again, don't see him that way – for what the rest of the world seems as idiocy, the Thomsons seem to see as norm. And so, if Kevin wasn't “the QB”, he probably wouldn't be such a ladies’ man and/or Brittany’s boyfriend. Their relationship reserves a special mention and be treated fully in another essay. But it is safe to disclose at this point that the two of them initially were attracted not by the physical attraction (though it is obviously/blatantly there) but because the head cheerleader and the QB are supposed to be a couple. And given their respective nurturing environments… theirs is an odd relationship. But the relationships will be discussed in a separate essay.
The conclusion. As it was mentioned above in this essay, no one of the “Daria” characters doesn't have problems of some sort. Some of them have them more openly, others hidden. I’m not even willing to go in Upchuck’s rampant libido yet, for an example of a more open one. However, that was adds realism to this show, because hey! – that is real life. No one is perfect, every one is flawed, unlike various TV shows where you can spot the good guys and the bad guys and the rest of character clichés right away.