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SPIN Online
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DARIA: Suburban Screams
By Holly Hilton (

This is not your little brother's Beavis and Butthead. Like NBCs Frasier, Daria (Mondays at 10:30 p.m.) is a cerebral spinoff that transcends its predecessor. Right away, its clear from the bold Red Meat-inspired animation and Thorazine-tinged "La la La la la" theme music that Daria bears little resemblance to B&B or its grown-up cousin, FOXs King of the Hill.

Sixteen-year-old Daria Morgendorffer is a Doc Martens-wearing, irony-spewing wisecracker who knows how to spell "Janeane Garofalo." In the first episode, the Morgendorffer clan moves from Beavis and Buttheads turf of Highland to multi-ethnic Lawndale. Almost immediately, Daria is placed in a special ed class for kids with low self-esteem, where she meets fellow cynic Jane Lane. Jane, who has intentionally failed the class six times, says, "I like having low self-esteem. It makes me feel special." Daria claims, "I don't have low self-esteem. It's a mistake. I have low esteem for everyone else."

Although Daria's life is filled with vacant jocks and cheerleaders, clueless relatives, and teachers who can't be bothered to learn her name, these characters are far from one-dimensional. In fact, Daria's touches of reality make it a worthy successor to My So-Called Life's teen angst throne.

Daria probably isn't destined to become a feature film starring Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Willis, but it certainly takes some of the "empty" out of MTV.