A Long Look at the Lane Family of Lawndale
©2010 The Angst Guy (email@example.com)
Feedback (good, bad, indifferent, just want to bother me, whatever) is appreciated. Please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Synopsis: It is possible with a little math work and careful study of Daria show scripts to work out the approximate ages of Jane Lane’s many siblings and the circumstances of their birth, feeding interesting speculation about the Lane family’s history and the sources of their interpersonal problems. More fanfic about the Lane family is called for.
Author’s Notes: This essay evolved from a March 2003 investigation made into the Lane family as presented on Daria, for character details for the fanfic, “There Beneath the Blue Suburban Skies” (about Penny Lane, of course). It is hoped that fanfic writers will find value in this work for their future stories.
This essay has been often revised, with new information added from a fifth-season episode, “Art Burn,” as well as information gleaned from the two official Daria books, The Daria Diaries (Anne D. Bernstein, Pocket Books: New York, January 1998) and The Daria Database (Peggy Nicoll, Pocket Books: New York, November 1998).
In addition, semi-official material from two March 2005 interviews conducted by Kara Wild with Glenn Eichler has been included throughout, plus a quote from the MTV Daria website from Penny Lane and data from Richard Lobinske’s highly detailed essay, “The Daria Temporal Analysis Project.”
the WayBack Machine was used to recover
old MTV webpages about
Acknowledgements: Profuse thanks go to Outpost Daria (http://www.outpost-daria.com) for carrying the valuable information that made this essay possible. Thanks also to James Bowman and Ruth Margolis, who brought up “Art Burn” and the information therein (and corrections to earlier versions of this work); Robert Nowall, who reminded me of the two Daria books and their contents; Kara Wild, for her incredible persistence in keeping Daria fandom alive; and Glenn Eichler, for taking the time and trouble to answer the questions that keep Daria fans awake at nights (seriously—you have no idea). Beta-readers for a previous incarnation of this essay (the fourth) included Richard Lobinske and Gregor Samsa, bless you both.
Happy families are all alike;
every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
—Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Because it is large, full of interesting people, and not well defined, the Lane family from Lawndale (living at 111 Howard Drive, according to The Daria Diaries) is a tempting subject for Daria fanfic. Not much has been revealed about this rather dysfunctional family and its history. However, with a bit of math and detective work (and a lot of flat-out guessing), some of the ages and the birth order of Jane Lane’s siblings—and some notes about her nieces, nephews, parents, and other relatives—can be deduced.
As noted above, a semi-official answer to the sibling-age issue is given at the end of this article. It agrees extremely well with the material that follows.
To begin with, I tend to agree with the birth order given for Jane’s siblings on the “Lane Family” webpage at Outpost Daria:
obviously the youngest, followed in ascending age by
The relevant text follows:
Daria: Hey. We’re back with your questions from MTV Online. Robert of
· Jane: You first.
· Daria: Bob, I’m sixteen.
· Jane: Yo tambien.
· Daria: My sister Quinn is fourteen and a half.
· Jane: My brother Trent is twenty-one.
· Daria: And my mother is—
· Helen [VO]: Daria!
· Daria: We’ll be back with more letters soon.
Jane, Daria, and Quinn
The ages given previously apply to the three girls’ sophomore year, assumedly right after Daria’s birthday in Season One but before Jane’s (since her birthday aired in Season Two, on “Pierce Me”). Daria is a Scorpio (October 24-November 21), per data obtained from a Beavis & Butthead comic book.
Fan opinion varies as to whether Jane or Daria is the older one. Jane’s birthday is mentioned in “Pierce Me,” a late second-season episode during a time when school is in session. The episode immediately before “Pierce Me” was “See Jane Run,” in which Jane runs track; track is normally a spring sport, per Richard Lobinske’s essay, “The Daria Temporal Analysis Project,” at:
High-school track-meet dates, per a review on the same on the Internet, are held from January to early June, with many tournaments in March and April. In Daria, the weather outside was more like spring than winter in “See Jane Run.” This implies Jane’s birthday was right before summer vacation, though there is much debate as to whether most of the episodes were shown in true chronological order—e.g., “Road Worrier” likely occurs in the summer between Daria and Jane’s sophomore and junior year in high school, as Alternapalooza takes place in mid-August, per The Daria Diaries.
Jane is noted as driving with a license before Daria gets her own license (“Speedtrapped,” when they are juniors and Daria is assumedly 17). To be fair, Daria had a great deal of trouble getting her own license, having difficulty just getting through a subdivision when she is first shown driving as a high-school junior (“Through a Lens Darkly”).
If Jane is older than Daria (since both are 16 by the end of Season One, and Jane has a birthday late in Season Two), she is about 16.5 when Daria turns 16. Richard Lobinske’s essay above has Jane’s birthday in the spring as well, but it makes Daria the older by half a year so Jane isn’t age 7 when entering first grade. Given the anomaly of “Road Warrior,” dating any episode is tough. No official answer exists as to which of the Cynical Duo is the older—yet. (FYI: Richard Lobinske’s essay also pins down dates for many events in the series and is invaluable to fanfic writers for its depth of research.)
If Jane and Daria are both 16 when they are halfway through their sophomore year in high school (per the “Daria Day” transcript above), they were each age 7 at some point during first grade. With a November birthday, Daria would have been age 6 when first grade started, the normal starting age for American children entering primary school. Why Jane (if she is the older) entered at age 7 is an interesting question. Perhaps her parents forgot to register her the year before. It doesn’t seem likely they would have held her back on purpose, given their apparent obliviousness to their children’s welfare. (See later for notes on Jane’s parents and their difficulties with parenting and housekeeping).
Quinn’s birthday was for some time assumed to be about six months away from Daria’s, likely in the spring (a Taurus in May?). If the year-and-a-half separation in birthdays was taken literally, they were born 18 months apart. It is interesting that Quinn and Daria, so opposite in temperament and nature, were apparently born at opposite times of the year. A semi-official answer was obtained when Glenn Eichler was asked how many months apart in age Daria and Quinn were, in an interview posted March 16, 2005, at:
In the interview, Mr. Eichler stated:
I used to know this... I think they’re about 14 months apart, putting them one school year apart. But I’m sure we cheated that whenever it was convenient.
In this event, Quinn was born in December of the year after Daria was or in January of the year after that, if Daria is a Scorpio. If Quinn was already 14 when she became a high-school freshman (and turned 15 later in the school year), she entered grade school at age 6, which makes sense. This further suggests that Daria also entered school at age 6 and had her birthday shortly thereafter.
However, how can one reconcile this with Daria at age 16 and Quinn at 14.5, per the 1998 “Daria Day” transcript? As Mr. Eichler notes above, convenience tended to rule in show scripts. Also, there is this exchange between Kara Wild and Mr. Eichler about the birthdays of characters on the show, from the interview immediately above:
· KW: A fan asks: Did you ever come up with specific months for their birthdays, or is that something else you prefer to keep loose?
· GE: Definitely want to keep that loose. I’d like to keep my OWN birthday loose if I could.
In short, there is a bit of play here for fanfic writers who want Quinn’s (or anyone else’s) birthday to be in a particular month.
In the episode “The Teachings of Don Jake,” Jane talks with one of her relatives.
· Woman: And how’s your sister Penny?
Jane: I think she’s a little disappointed in the Mexican job market.
She may try
· Woman: And how’s your brother Wind?
· Jane: He’s thinking of getting remarried if he can just figure out whether his divorces were legal.
· Woman: How about your sister Summer?
· Jane: You know, the private detective found three out of her four kids.
This conversation completely sums up the spin each of Jane’s oldest siblings gets in the series. Jane is obviously in contact with her three oldest siblings on a more-or-less regular basis, either directly (by phone or postcards) or through Trent or their parents.
In The Daria Diaries is a postcard from Penny, who is in Nicaragua and unhappy with the job market there, per Jane’s comments about her in “The Teachings of Don Jake.” Penny says she plans to head next for Honduras. She comes home from Costa Rica in “Lane Miserables,” doubtless having gone there after Honduras.
Penny Lane’s age can be deduced from the second-season episode, “See Jane Run,” in which Jane and Ms. Morris, the girls’ Phys Ed teacher, have the following conversation:
· Jane: We share certain chromosome pairs. Beyond that, I’m not supposed to say.
· Ms. Morris: You know what I mean. Can’t be part of a group. Always have to be different. Your sister Penny never wanted to participate, either. I taught her a thing or two about the American competitive spirit.
· Jane: You sure did. That’s why she’s spent the last ten years out of the country.
· Ms. Morris: I know what kind of upbringing she’s had. What’s your excuse?
· Daria: I’m just plain no good?
Ms. Morris knew both Summer and Penny personally, and she apparently had difficulty with the red-haired, anti-establishment rebel, Penny. (Penny’s siblings might have had political issues with her, too.) For a sample of Penny’s attitudes, see her Nicaraguan postcard in The Daria Diaries. MTV also has a webpage featuring a long quote from Penny (introducing some webpages) that is high instructive in getting across her left-wing world-view and poor business sense. It is reprinted here in case MTV takes the page offline, as it has so many other Daria webpages.
P.S.: Does anyone know a source for American flags made out of 100 percent hemp-based fiber?
Ms. Morris doesn’t think much of Jane’s upbringing, either. Penny has been out of the country for 10 years at this time, so if she left right after high school (average age at graduation is 17-18 years), then she was 27-28 when Jane was 16. We thus have Jane (16), Trent (21), and Penny (27-28) pinned for ages in Jane’s sophomore year.
Penny registers in the “crafts” end of the arts-and-crafts spectrum. She is fluent in Spanish and independent enough to wander Mexico and Central America by herself. Jane knows some Spanish, too, though she mixes it with her English. One wonders if Jane and Penny get along together, as Jane appears to defend Penny in “See Jane Run,” but this does not seem likely. Penny comes across as a cold, tense loner with a bad attitude toward any and all authority, and a bad attitude toward her siblings as well. In The Daria Diaries is a postcard from Penny, who addresses her postcard to her parents only (“Mom and Dad Lane”), not to Jane or Trent, though the parents are away from home for long periods of time. Penny was not at all demonstrative toward Trent or Jane in “Lane Miserables,” preferring to call a Costa Rican government official and complain about a volcano eruption (as if it were the fault of the government) rather than talk to Jane. Her first words upon entering the house in “Lane Miserables” are a snide reference to Wind’s marriage problems. Summer makes a comment to Penny in “Lane Miserables” suggesting that Penny has never been married, and she is never mentioned as having any children.
Penny’s room is still maintained at the Lane home, apparently in much the same condition it was when she left the U.S. over a decade earlier. Her room is shown in detail in the fourth-season episode, “Fire!” as Daria’s temporary residence, and the contents provide room for speculation about her craft skills and activities on her trips. Given the “Santa Fe Craft Fest 98” poster on the wall by the door, it is likely that when Penny returns home now and then, she stays in her room (free rent!) and updates it with things she brings with her. She might have done this after her brief visit in “Lane Miserables.” The issue makes one wonder if Summer and Wind’s rooms aren’t also kept available for their use when they drop by the house, too; it seems more than likely.
Wind has been divorced at least twice, which is confirmed in the third-season episode, “Lane Miserables.” Katie (on the houseboat) was his third wife, and likely the person Jane spoke of as Wind’s next spouse in “The Teachings of Don Jake.” Claudia was wife #1 or #2, who threw out and divorced Wind “years ago.” The script for “Lane Miserables” can be found at:
Wind, too, sends a postcard to “The Lane Family” in The Daria Diaries, but here he says that he is about to marry someone named Sheila who “isn’t like the other ones,” so she is likely pre-Katie if the engagement was later broken off. The same postcard says that the marriage immediately before the one planned to Katie was essentially annulled because the person who officiated it was not legally empowered to marry couples. Wind’s almost-marriages could be numerous, as he appears to get carried away by his emotions. He does not appear to have ever had children, however—and one wonders why. It is possible he has one or more children from his many failed liaisons, but they aren’t ever mentioned. If he does, he appears to have no involvement in their lives.
In the fifth-season episode, “Art Burn,” the gazebo in the Lanes’ backyard is destroyed by a defective special effect while Jane is filming Mystik Spiral. Wind appears unexpectedly and hugs Trent and Jane (the latter of whom appears very unenthusiastic about this greeting), then says Katie locked him out of their kitchen and he came over because he was hungry. Thus, Wind and Katie are still married while Jane is a senior, and they live close to Lawndale, if not in Lawndale itself. Wind thinks for a moment that Daria is actually Penny, so he either rarely sees Penny or has a terrible memory (the former is likely, as Penny is out of the country so often, but one wonders).
Also in “Art
Burn,” Wind becomes hysterical when he sees the gazebo is wrecked. He claims it
was the “naming gazebo” in which the Lane parents named each of their children
when they were born. (Proof that the Lanes have lived in
Despite Wind’s hypersensitivity and fondness for hugging, he is narcissistic, needy, immature, and uninterested in or unable to deal with the problems of others.
Jane’s Nieces and Nephews
It is interesting that more is known about Summer’s children than about Summer herself. Indeed, most of what we know about Summer has to do with her (poor) parenting skills. In the episode “Pinch Sitter,” Daria and Jane have the following conversation at the Guptys’ home.
· Daria: Where did you learn to baby-sit?
· Jane: I used to help with my sister Summer’s kids till they got old enough to run away.
Jane is thus older than the oldest of her nieces and nephews by Summer, likely by several years, at least. Was Summer living with her parents when she had small children and Jane helped out? It appears possible; Summer might have been recently divorced at that time.
If the oldest of Summer’s four kids is 12 at the show’s start, just to pick a likely age, Summer started having kids at about age 20. (These ages can be tinkered with to a fair degree, so it could have been earlier or later in her life.) It is possible that none of Summer’s four kids has the same father, given the suggestion of her history of divorces and the possibility of following in her mother’s footsteps for marriage and mating habits (see later, “Amanda and Vincent Lane”). A father figure seems entirely absent from her children’s lives, which sort of follows if you assume Summer had a strange, chaotic childhood, being raised early on in an anarchistic, unstructured hippie commune—or in the anarchistic, unstructured Lane home. As a child, Summer was allowed to eat nothing but Pez for a year, according to Amanda Lane (“Lane Miserables”).
It is certain that all of Summer’s kids have run away from home, possibly multiple times and certainly all of them at once on at least one occasion, by the time Jane is 16. It is likely that at least one of Summer’s kids is missing at any given time. A postcard from Summer in The Daria Diaries announces that Adrian and Courtney (see later) have run away from her, apparently while they were at a cheap motel in Pennsylvania; Summer dropped the other two children at the Lane home in Lawndale, perhaps before the trip. (“No one was home,” writes Summer, “so I told them to wait.”) The two errant siblings send a postcard from “Amish Country” (probably Pennsylvania), then a later card from the “Petrified Forest” (Arizona), where they are earning small amounts of money selling chips of petrified wood to tourists—a trade that is illegal under federal law, by the way. The kids don’t appear to be distressed at being on their own, writing: “If you hear from Mom, tell her to chill. We’ll call her in a few weeks.” The cards are neatly printed in all capitals and correctly spelled, so the children are quite intelligent.
Adrian and Courtney could be the youngest of Summer’s kids, given that Summer came to pick them up in “Lanes Miserables” without bringing any other kids with her. (Maybe the others ran away again, or were being cared for by neighbors or other family.) Adrian and Courtney seem to be about 10-12 years old. This is in the third season, though, assumedly in Jane’s junior year in high school, so in Jane’s sophomore year they would be about 9-11 years old. It is possible they are fraternal twins and tend to stick together; they play together and run away together, at least, and they seem inseparable judging from their postcards in The Daria Diaries. The two of them think highly of Vincent and Amanda, given that they often write to or run away to the Lawndale Lanes’ home and get presents from them (per a postcard in The Daria Diaries).
All of Summer’s children thus appear to be skilled at running off, hitchhiking, stowing away, or taking refuge with other relatives or distant friends. The potential for child abuse on the road is substantial—sorry to say it, but there it is. Why do they run away? Good question. Summer clearly has little control over her kids and complains loudly about it. She seems to lack her mother’s easygoing temperament and could be neglectful or unpredictable, even emotionally abusive. If she dumped two children at the empty Lane house in Lawndale, she’s not much of a mother. Jane (and possibly Trent) likely cared for these runaway nieces and nephews on numerous occasions, a point rarely brought up in the fanfic about either of them. In “Lanes Miserables,” Summer declares that the Lane home is the last place on Earth she wants to be. Why?
A curious note about siblings, nieces, and nephews: In The Daria Database (“‘While We’re Away…’ Housekeeping Notes from the Lanes”) is a note from Amanda warning “Janie” and Trent to be sure that if people are discovered living in the Lane home’s basement, “Make sure it’s not one of your brothers or sisters or their kids before you call the cops.” This appears to leave the door open for children by Wind or Penny, but this does not seem likely. Still, Wind might have kids from one of his many marriages or relationships. Who knows?
We do have a glimpse into Summer’s life while growing up, provided by Glenn Eichler in an interview with Kara Wild (posted March 30, 2005, at:
Mr. Eichler was speaking of Rita Barksdale, Helen’s older sister, who had gone through a great deal of turmoil in her formative years:
In boomer families where the children came of age in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, it was very common for the oldest child to get swept up in the social changes of the time, even maybe losing their footing a bit, whether that meant dropping out of school, becoming a huge druggie, getting into a bunch of bad “all you need is love” relationships, or having any number of other experiences that their parents considered scandalous.
Mr. Eichler went on to say, “Summer is the Rita of that family... but there’s no Helen.” The implication is clear that Summer made many mistakes in her life and relationships.
It is my guess that Amanda Lane, Jane and Trent’s mother, is about the age of Helen Morgendorffer. For the sake of argument, let’s say Amanda is 48 at the time of seasons one and two (c. 1997-1998), so Amanda was born about 1950, a nice round guesswork figure. Jane was thus born when Amanda was 32, Trent when she was 27, and Penny when she was 20-21. Nothing is ever said about the pregnancies being planned or unplanned.
If siblings Wind and Summer are older than Penny, Amanda was a teenage parent. Lots of interesting speculation comes into play now. It is possible that Vincent, guessed to be about the same age as Amanda, is not the biological father of Summer, Wind, and Penny—this is per a comment Jane made about her sisters in “See Jane Run”: “We share certain chromosome pairs. Beyond that, I’m not supposed to say.” Perhaps she was just being her usual sarcastic self, perhaps not. Vincent might have adopted the oldest three or acted as their de facto father after Amanda and Vincent married, became handfasted, or whatever. Perhaps they never bothered with formalities and have a common-law marriage. Summer and Wind were born before 1970 if they are the oldest, and thus were children during the hippie era, which explains their peculiar names (and Penny’s, of course). That Trent and Jane have normal names further emphasizes the difference in upbringing these two groups of siblings had.
The tale of the “naming gazebo” in “Art Burn” does not negate this possibility, as Amanda reveals the story was false. Wind’s parentage could still be an open question. However, for the “naming gazebo” story to have been plausible to Wind, the Lanes would have had to have lived in Lawndale at least since his birth. (See note below about Ms. Morris’s memory of Summer.) Perhaps their end of the suburb is the “old” one, with much added on in the years since they moved in. It is also possible that Wind is simply very gullible.
For the sake of argument, it is assumed that Wind and Summer were born about 1-2 years apart, and Wind is assumed to be 1-2 years older than Penny. Amanda would thus have started having kids at about age 16, 18 at most. She might have been married previous to meeting Vincent and could have been divorced at least once. Indeed, given a probable hippie past, Amanda might have raised Summer, Wind, and Penny in a commune (centered in their home?) without ever being married, and their biological fathers might be nearly impossible to determine at this late date. Draw your own conclusions about what that was like for Amanda’s kids—it doesn’t appear to have bothered her, however. The fanfic potential here is enormous and almost untapped.
Given that Ms. Morris recalls both Penny and Summer Lane, the Lanes have been in Lawndale for at least two, possibly three decades, or even longer. If the “naming gazebo” story is discarded entirely, Amanda and Vincent might have moved to Lawndale after the birth of Penny and their own marriage, in whatever order those events came. In Daria’s second diary entry from The Daria Diaries, she says of Jane, immediately after they meet in their sophomore year at high school: “Her parents are out of the country for a few months and forgot to leave the mortgage payments.” Long-term home mortgages are typically for twenty or thirty years. Given that Wind, Penny, Trent, and Jane—and possibly Summer—have their own rooms (“Lane Miserables” and “Fire!”), it is tempting to assume the Lane parents purchased the house after their oldest three children were born, when they knew they would need the space. They might have anticipated the arrival of more children later, too. It is reasonable to assume that the home was purchased in the early or mid-1970s on a thirty-year mortgage, which explains why payments are still being made in the late 1990s.
How they got the money to buy a big house is a good question, too. Maybe they have hidden financial resources of some kind. They apparently have been saving money for Jane’s college tuition, if Jane’s daydream in “College Bored” is any indication. Are the Lanes wealthier than they first appear?
rate, Jane’s parents forgot to leave mortgage payments. They are thus more than
a bit irresponsible. The postcards from Vincent and Amanda in The Daria
Diaries clearly show that both are gone from the Lane home for extended
periods of time of up to weeks and months, and each is likely to have no idea
where the other is on Earth at any given moment. Only Trent and Jane are
assumed to be at the house, and Trent is sometimes gone on band tours. Amanda’s
notes to “Janie” and Trent in The Daria Database (“‘While We’re Away…’
Housekeeping Notes from the Lanes”) reveal their home to be just short of a
disaster area, with visits even from the health department. Parental
involvement is also a nightmare. In “Lane Miserables,”
· Jane: Well, there’s that one about not building a fire in the rooms that don’t have fireplaces.
The Lane home appears in the lower left corner of the “Virtual Lawndale” webpage of MTV’s Daria site, at:
If you click on the Lane house (#2), a small blowup of the home appears on the right of the page, with the legend:
Where Jane and Trent were raised. By each other.
On an archived webpage from MTV’s Daria website (c. 2001), Jane Lane started an online auction site in which she tries to sell off her family’s possessions. "Click here to shop on LaneBAY: the web's first family-style online art auction,” she writes. “Since Mom and Dad often forget to pay the mortgage, it may be the only way I can hold onto my garret."
Even Glenn Eichler mentions the chaotic conditions of the Lane home in the interview with Kara Wild posted on March 30, 2005:
KW: How can the Lane family afford such a large house in a tony suburb
· GE: The inside of the house is a disaster area. Did you ever read “Running With Scissors?” It’s kind of like the doctor’s house in that book. I won’t even go over there any more.
When did Vincent and Amanda begin leaving Lawndale for extended periods of time, forcing their oldest children to care for the smallest siblings? Penny might have gotten stuck with this job in particular, a job she may have resented. If Summer and her children were at the Lane home during one of Summer’s divorces, Summer probably ran things for a time, too, though clearly Jane was a major help with the kids. Jane also delivered sandwiches to Trent when he lived in a backyard tent for six months as a child, so Jane has always had significant responsibility for others, which doubtless accelerated her maturity. Does Jane resent her parents for running off on her so often? The following conversation from “Lane Miserables” makes her feelings clear.
· Amanda: You know, if you try to hold a butterfly tightly in your hand, it will die. You have to let it go. And if it comes back, it is truly yours, but if doesn’t, it never really was.
· Jane: How about if you tear off its precious little wings?
It appears that Amanda’s three oldest children form one conflict-prone, antagonistic group of individuals, and Trent and Jane—following so far behind them in birth order—are the “out group,” not well connected with the rest of the family. Several episodes in the series support this. For example, in Is It College Yet?, only Trent is present to see Jane graduate from high school. Trent is also stressed out at the possibility of Jane going to Boston for college, as she is the only Lane he knows who has consistently been around the house. Sibling rivalry and conflict is a much-repeated theme in “Daria,” and the close bond that Trent and “Janey” share is a rare and precious thing in the Dariaverse. It appears that Jane feels more responsibility in running and maintaining the home than Trent does, given how she saves the house from being repossessed (The Daria Diaries), how she manages Trent’s time and rebuilds the gazebo with her own money in “Art Burn,” and her possession of her parents’ “Do Not Resuscitate” orders in The Daria Database (“Under the Beds, Jane’s & Trent’s”).
Summing up so far, early in Jane’s sophomore year (first season), we have:
· Jane, 16
· Penny, 27-28
· Wind, 29-31 (assumed)
· Summer, 30-33 (assumed)
By the end of Is It College Yet?, all are about two and a half years older, closing in on three years older by the start of the next school year.
The chance that Penny bonded with Jane is low (as noted earlier). In fact, Jane probably finds her oldest three siblings to be more strangers than family, and she obviously resents their intrusions during “Lane Miserables.” None of the oldest siblings connect with Jane in “Lane Miserables,” being consumed with their own problems. Note the scene in “Lane Miserables” in which Trent does not want to become involved in the relationship role-playing session between Vincent and Wind. Trent may feel exactly as Jane does toward their three older sibs, as he and Jane both fled their home for the Morgendorffers’ place.
Were the five Lane children ever home together as they were growing up? Given their sudden migration home as adults in “Lane Miserables,” in Jane’s junior year, this is possible, but it doesn’t seem likely they were ever together for a long period of time. The three oldest siblings simply don’t like each other that much; Penny and Summer have strong hostile feelings toward each other and others in the family, and Wind thinks only of himself. Their grand feud at the end of “Lane Miserables” is taken by all to have been predictable and typical—and useful to Jane and Trent in clearing away unwanted family members.
When Penny was age 17-18, Trent was 11 (fifth or sixth grade?) and Jane was 6. Jane was 7 in first grade, if she was 16 as a sophomore; Jane was thus in first grade when Penny was 18-19, which might have been Penny’s senior high-school year or the first year she was gone from home. Tommy Sherman won the state football championship for Lawndale three years before the first-season episode, “The Misery Chick,” which would have been when Trent was 18—likely a senior who shared classes with Tommy—and when Jane was 13, in seventh grade.) Summer and Wind might have left home by this time, off on their first marriages.
One interesting option mentioned by some fans of “Daria” is the possibility that Penny is the oldest of Jane’s siblings. (Note: This was discounted by Glenn Eichler, but it’s your fanfic, so write what you like.) If so, you could space the Lane children in the following order in the first and second seasons of the series, giving a year’s time between births.
· Penny: 28 (29?)
· Wind and Summer: 22-27 (probably 25 or older)
· Jane: 16
The problem here is that Summer has to give birth to four children (all capable of running away from home at this time), and Wind has to get divorced at least twice, then married a third time. It can be made to work, but it will get crowded. Penny, Wind, and Summer still form a group of three dysfunctional siblings who rarely interact with Jane and Trent.
The Lanes of Lawndale own two cats named Zachary and Taylor, according to The Daria Database (“‘While We’re Away…’ Housekeeping Notes from the Lanes” and “Under the Beds, Jane’s & Trent’s”). The cats never appear in the TV show, but cats never appear when you want them to appear. Perhaps they eventually ran off like so many of the Lanes do.
Penny has a colorful parrot, Chiquito (Spanish for “very small,” a not-uncommon pet name in some places), she was somehow, despite customs regulations, able to bring home from Central America. Chiquito is “very possessive,” sometimes screeching at or attacking other people (as does Penny in a verbal way), or getting into mischief.
Courtney and Adrian wrote from Arizona that they wanted their mother to pick them up in her van, as they now have a dog. No other information is available on the dog, but if it became a part of the family, it will likely run away with the two kids.
Jane once mentioned she’d like to be filmed walking a poodle (“Monster”), but who knows what she meant.
What of the rest of the Lane family? “The Teachings of Don Jake” is crucial here.
· Jane: Do you know where I’ll be this weekend? The Lane family reunion. Dozens of Lanes from all over the country converging in one Midwestern split level to remind themselves why they scattered in the first place.
· Daria: Wow. I didn’t think your parents would be caught dead at something like that.
· Jane: They wouldn’t. We’re the black sheep of the clan. We’re only invited because hating us brings them all closer together. My parents are much too smart for that trick. So they’re sending me and Trent as their representatives.
This situation sounds more than a bit like what happens in “Lane Miserables.” As Jane calls it the Lane family reunion, we’re talking about her father’s relatives, not her mother’s. It is interesting that Jane and Trent obey their mother and father by going to the family reunion, and curious, too, because the oldest three kids are out of the picture. Maybe Jane and Trent, being children from a legal marriage (they have their father’s hair color), are made slightly more welcome than the others by conservative members of their extended family—though the rest of the family doesn’t seem to show them any respect.
“The Teachings of Don Jake” contains bits and pieces of information about relatives such as Aunt Ellie (and her vacation pictures), Cousin Jimmy (and his modeling career), Aunt Bernice (and her straw hats, from Middleberry), Uncle Max (the bum who likes Trent), and the highly critical Grandma Lane, her father’s mother. We have not yet met Amanda’s relatives, alas.
Jane does have a pile of paint-by-number kits under her bed (per The Daria Database), all identical and sent as gifts from one of her grandfathers. It’s an encouraging sign of support, if not entirely on target.
And there you have it, the Lanes of Lawndale. Fanfic writers—go!
THE AGES OF JANE’S SIBLINGS,
A SEMI-OFFICIAL ANSWER
Courtesy of Michelle Klein-Haas, Kara Wild was able to contact Glenn Eichler, one of the original creative supervisor and scriptwriter for Daria, and ask a few questions of him regarding the background of the show and its characters, in an exchange posted on March 30, 2005, at:
Eichler was asked about the ages of Wind, Summer, and
I used to have a piece of paper on my bulletin board spelling out the ages of Jane’s brothers and sisters so I wouldn’t forget them... unfortunately it’s gone now. Penny would be mid-to-late ‘20s, Wind 30ish, Summer a year or two older than Wind. Summer is the Rita of that family... but there’s no Helen.
Because Penny’s age can be pegged with a reasonable degree of certainty, it isn’t clear if he was giving the ages at the beginning of the show or at the show’s end. However, the above figures agree very well with the suppositions given in this essay.
Original: 7/30/03, revised 8/6/03, 9/21/03, 06/02/05, 09/25/05, 10/05/06, 09/02/09, 05/10/10