Written by Glenn Eichler
(opening theme song)
(opens on image of newspaper, with headline "Voters reject property tax increase for third consecutive year; schools face cuts")
(in Mr. O'Neill's class)
(Mr. O'Neill hands out copies of play)
Mr. O'Neill - Okay, students, here's your reading assignment for tonight: scenes one through five in Doctor Faustus. Sorry I don't have actual copies of the play for you but, you know... the budget.
Kevin - Hey, Mr. O., I can't read this.
Jane - I can't read mine, either.
Daria - Hmm... I can just make out the words "incipient migraine."
Mr. O'Neill - I apologize for the quality of these, class. The school's photocopier is so very old. Darn budget.
Jane - Mr. O'Neill!
Mr. O'Neill - Sorry!
(in Mr. DeMartino's class)
Jodie - So it's clear that in the case of Chechnya, conflicts that took generations to develop will certainly not be resolved in a period of months.
Mr. DeMartino - Excellent report, Jodie. Would you like to give your classmates a clearer picture of the hostilities by pointing out Chechnya on the map?
(Jodie goes over to the wall map, but can't find Chechnya)
Jodie - Um, Chechnya became independent in 1991, and this map was printed before then. It's completely outdated.
Mr. DeMartino - That's right, Jodie. I guess they think since I teach history I don't need any supplies created after V-E Day!
(in Ms. Defoe's class)
Ms. Defoe - Class, I thought as an exercise in imagination, we could deprive ourselves of one of our customary creative tools. So today, let's all try to paint a picture without using the color red.
Brittany - But I like red. It reflects my passionate nature.
Ms. Defoe - I'm sure it does, Brittany, but, well, I ran out of it yesterday and there's no money to get any more.
(at football field)
(team is practicing, Mr. O'Neill and Ms. Li are on the bleachers)
Mr. O'Neill - So you see, Ms. Li, the other teachers and I thought if we could maybe take some of the money we've been spending on school security and instead spend it on school supplies...
Ms. Li - Mr. O'Neill, do you have any idea what a satellite transmission jammer costs these days?
Mr. O'Neill - Um...
(Jamie approaches the sidelines; he's not wearing a helmet)
Ms. Li - Mr. White?
Jamie - Yeah?
Ms. Li - Why aren't you out there practicing with the other gridironers?
Jamie - Um, the face mask fell off my helmet.
Ms. Li - So? Get a new helmet.
Jamie - I can't. Coach says we're out of money.
Ms. Li - (stands) That's it! The school financial predicament has reached crisis proportions!
(in Ms. Li's office)
Leonard Lamm - So what we're really talking about is a lens of fiscal focus concentrating the diffused light of our students' discretionary spending into a laser beam of economic clout.
Ms. Li - Mr. Lamm, I like the way that sounds.
Lamm - How many soda machines do we have in this institution?
Ms. Li - Two in the cafeteria and one in the teachers' lounge.
Lamm - Three? No, we need at least four times that number.
Ms. Li - But can we really make up the budget deficit with the proceeds on cans of soda?
Lamm - Oh, it's not the cans. It's the exclusive contract.
Ms. Li - What contract?
Lamm - See, what I do is represent your interests to the soda companies. I say to each of them, "I've got a high school that's willing to sell no other beverages but yours in its cafeterias, at its dances, sporting events, whatever. They'll advertise and sell your product exclusively."
Ms. Li - Advertise?
Lamm - Tasteful little posters. "And all you have to do, Mr. Soda Company Fatcat, is hand over, oh, let's say $50,000 to be used as the school sees fit."
Ms. Li - (reverently) $50,000...
Lamm - And that's if we don't get a bidding war going.
Ms. Li - Hmm... you don't think it's unseemly to have advert -- promotion -- inside school corridors?
Lamm - Ms. Li, our kids see advertising when they turn on the TV, when they log onto the web, when they drive the highways and walk through the malls. Do we really want school to be a sheltered ivory tower that fails to prepare them for life outside its walls?
Ms. Li - Hmm, I never thought of it that way. (reverently) Did you say $50,000?
(in Ms. Barch's class)
Ms. Barch - Class, our planetarium trip has been canceled due to lack of funds, so your assignment tonight is to locate Orion the Hunter in the sky, then write an essay on why you think he needs to carry a weapon to feel like a man.
Ms. Li - (on P.A.) Attention, students. (softly) An acute paper shortage prevents us from sending home an announcement about the school review meeting. (more softly) So please remind your parents that it's the 30th at 6:00.
Daria - What'd she say? The 30th?
Ms. Li - (softly) Thank you.
(Daria and Jane walking down hall)
Daria - Why didn't she come on before the bell rang so we could hear her?
Jane - Well, considering it was about a school review meeting, I'd have to say, who cares?
(they pass Kevin and Brittany)
Daria - Wait a minute. The 30th is a Sunday. Who holds school review meetings on Sunday?
Kevin - Daria, the 30th isn't a Sunday. It's Super Bowl Sunday.
Brittany - Be an American, Daria.
(Kevin and Brittany walk away)
Daria - Super Bowl Sunday?
(in Morgendorffer kitchen)
Quinn - So Stacy showed me her outfit for Sunday and she had, like, this solid cream-colored top and I said, "Stacy, it's a Super Bowl party. Guys yelling and jumping up and down and banging into stuff and dip, Stacy, dip!" So she decided to go with a print instead. You know what I always say. Dip is short for dipsaster. (giggles)
Helen - That's wonderful, honey.
Daria - Did you know Ms. Li called a school review meeting for Super Bowl Sunday?
Helen - Really? That's odd. Well, maybe she's not a football fan.
Daria - I think she's trying to pull something. If I were you, I'd make it a point to go to that meeting and pay extra-close attention.
Helen - Daria, you know your father and I have to go to Eric's Super Bowl party.
Jake - What?!
Helen - Or I'll look like I'm not a team player.
Jake - I have to spend another Super Bowl with a bunch of freakin' lawyers?! And their freakin' lawyer highballs and lawyer cigars?! Lousy stuck-up...
Helen - Jake! I called in some favors around the office and found five people who promised they'd talk to you.
Jake - You did?
Quinn - Excuse me but doesn't anybody want to hear about Stacy's pants?
Daria - Hello? The high school principal called a public meeting she doesn't want anyone to attend.
Helen - Daria, if you're so concerned, why don't you go?
Daria - What?
(Daria and Jane are looking at the meeting announcement on the bulletin board)
Jane - You owe me hugely for making me miss the biggest football game of the year.
Daria - You hate football.
Jane - Hey! Don't try any of your twisty-turny mind games on me, Morgendorffer.
(in the auditorium)
Lamm - So if I may sum up: our young people are our greatest resource. Therefore, let us mine that resource and allow their thirst for refreshment to fuel their thirst for knowledge. That, ladies and gentlemen, is empowerment. Thank you.
Ms. Li - Yahoo! Well, if that's not inspiring then I wasn't named fourth runner-up for Principal of the Year by the tri-county chapter of the Asian-American Women in Education's Caucus. Now I'm sure you all want to get home and watch the game but first we've allotted... three minutes for public commentary on Mr. Lamm's proposal.
(Daria stands up)
Ms. Li - Nobody? Very well, then.
Daria - Excuse me.
Ms. Li - Um, yes, Ms. Morgendorffer?
Daria - You're planning to make soda companies bid against each other for the right to market their products in Lawndale High?
Lamm - That's right. All you kids have to do is what you'd do anyway: drink soda.
Daria - Does that mean that everywhere I turn I'll run into a vending machine?
Lamm - Well, there wouldn't be much value to the contract if the product weren't easily available. (chuckles)
Daria - And what else?
Lamm - Nothing but a few small discreet advertising posters in the halls. Nothing in questionable taste. And, if we're lucky, an exciting new high-tech scoreboard for athletic events, boys' and girls'.
Daria - So the school will, in effect, be endorsing the soda? Is that really the school's role, to become a shill?
Lamm - Miss... do you drink soda?
Daria - Huh? Of course.
Lamm - So?
Daria - This isn't about whether I like soda. It's about whether a public high school should be using its status as a place of authority to serve as one more marketing tentacle of corporate America. With the taxpayers subsidizing it.
Lamm - Surely you give your friends enough credit to know when they're being taught and when they're being sold to?
Daria - I give them enough credit to figure out about three seconds after those machines arrive that they can't trust this institution. The few who still do.
Ms. Li - Oh, dear... darn it, our time is up. I've got Super Bowl fever. Go, teams, go!
(Daria and Jane walking home)
Daria - This whole thing sucks. They shouldn't be selling stuff to people under the guise of educating them. Don't you think it's totally unethical and underhanded?
Jane - I don't know. Let me mull it over for a few minutes.
(in school hallway; there are quite a few Ultra Cola vending machines and signs present)
Jane - Is it my imagination or is something about the school different today?
Kevin - Hey, Daria. Jane. (slurps cola)
Brittany - Isn't it great to have all these new soda machines everywhere? It's so easy to get a drink.
Jane - And hyperglycemia.
Kevin - (spaced out) I like these machines. They're so bright, so soothing... (normal) You know, we're getting a new scoreboard and a whole bunch of equipment out of this deal.
Brittany - And new pompoms and everything.
Daria - And all you have to do for it is name your firstborn after Ultra Cola.
Kevin - What?
Jane - You weren't going to call him Kevin Junior, were you?
Brittany - Oh, Kevvy, I hope you're not disappointed.
Kevin - Ultra... Ultra Thompson. "Now starting for the Miami Dolphins at quarterback, Ultra... Cola... Thompson. Hooray!" Yeah, it's cool.
(in the school library)
(Daria sits down next to Jodie)
Jodie - Hey.
Daria - You've got to do something about this.
Jodie - About what?
Daria - About that. (points to Ultra Cola sign)
Jodie - Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's kind of sleazy.
Daria - Are you going to talk to someone about it?
Jodie - I'd have to go to the superintendent of schools.
Daria - So will you?
Jodie - I don't know. It's bringing in a lot of money to the school.
Daria - But you just said you think it's sleazy.
Jodie - Well, yeah. But the Lawndale Model Congress is going to Washington next month and for the first time in three years we don't have to sell 500 rolls of gift wrap to pay for the bus.
Daria - No. Instead they're selling you colored sugar water while pretending to give you an education.
Jodie - Hey, you drink soda, don't you?
Daria - That's not the point.
Jodie - I just don't think a few little posters are that big a deal. In a week, you won't even notice them.
Daria - All the worse.
Jodie - Daria, if you don't like it, you complain.
Daria - I don't complain.
Jodie - That's all you ever do.
Daria - I mean, I don't get involved.
Jodie - Then I guess you don't really care that much, do you?
(in the Morgendorffer living room; Daria and Tom are watching Sick, Sad World)
SSW Announcer - All he wanted, just once, was to eat at the table. But she had a hankering to howl. "Shih tzu? I hardly know you!" Next, on Sick, Sad World.
(Daria shuts off TV)
Daria - Do you think I complain a lot?
Tom - What are you bitching about now?
Daria - I'm serious. I asked Jodie if she'd talk to somebody about these soda posters and she said I should do it since I'm so good at complaining.
Tom - Why don't you do it?
Daria - Well, let's see. Aside from the fact that I'm already considered a square peg and a malcontent, there's the small problem that everyone loves all this money coming in, and I seem to be the only one troubled by where it's coming from.
Tom - So what? You're still right.
Daria - Thank you.
Tom - And you have every right to moan and groan...
Daria - Thank you.
Tom - As long as you try to do something about it.
Daria - Why does it have to be me?
Tom - Because nobody else will.
Daria - But that's what's so infuriating.
Tom - Ah, ah, ah.
Daria - What?
Tom - There you go, complaining again.
(in the waiting room of Superintendent Cartwright's office)
Jane - You owe me hugely for making me get involved in school district politics.
Daria - What are you talking about? I just asked you to walk me here. You're not even going in.
Jane - Hey! Don't try any of your rhetorical gymnastics on me, Morgendorffer. You sound a little nervous.
Daria - No, I don't.
Jane - My mistake.
Secretary - You can go in now.
Daria - Eep!
(in the Superintendent's office)
Daria - ... and that's why I really think it's inappropriate to be using the school as a venue for this cola company's advertising.
Superintendent - Ms. Morgendorffer... I hope you don't mind that I punched your name up on the computer. You have a very impressive academic record.
Daria - Um, thanks.
Superintendent - But very little in the way of extracurriculars.
Daria - What does that have to do with anything?
Superintendent - Well, I can't help wondering. Do you really object that strongly to a few soda machines, or is this protest perhaps an exercise in extracurricular involvement to put on your college applications?
Daria - (surprised) What?
Superintendent - Do you drink soda, Daria?
Daria - (angry) That's not the point.
Superintendent - Lawndale High is now the only school in the county running a surplus. I was going to talk to Leonard Lamm about writing a contract proposal for all our schools.
Daria - Mr. Cartwright, you're right. I'm not a big one for participation. I went against my instincts coming here today, and when word gets around I'll probably be even more isolated than I already am.
Superintendent - Oh, I don't...
Daria - But I did it because, as little affection or respect as I have for my fellow students, they don't deserve to be treated as a demographic by their own school.
Superintendent - All that contract's trying to do is make the educational experience better.
Daria - Then just come to Lawndale High and see if that's happening.
Superintendent - I'll think about it.
Daria - Um, that doesn't sound very convincing.
Superintendent - I'll think about it. (stands) Thank you for coming in.
(in Ms. Li's office)
Ms. Li - Well, it's been four weeks and I'd say we've done a stellar job of making Ultra Cola available to our students.
Lamm - Well, you might say so, and I'm sure I'd agree with you but unfortunately that won't hold up in court.
Ms. Li - Huh?
Lamm - The idea wasn't making the product available to the students. It was making the students available to the product. The Ultra Cola people say your sales aren't what they should be. You do want to make your quotas, don't you? Or the school won't get that nice big check.
Ms. Li - Oh, my gosh. What do I have to do?
Lamm - Well, we need to take it up a notch.
(Daria and Jane walking to school; the school buss passes them, decked out in Ultra Cola banners)
Daria - I've got a bad feeling about this.
(Daria and Jane arrive at school; hallways are filled with Ultra Cola paraphernalia and vending machines, and the floor is painted in Ultra Cola colors)
(in Ms. Barch's class)
(room is decked out in Ultra Cola paraphernalia)
Ms. Barch - Class, there's been a change in our lesson plan. Today we'll discuss the planets' relative distance from the sun.
Upchuck - But we did that two weeks ago, Ms. B.
Ms. Barch - And now we're going to do it again, Charles. Unless you wish to spend the period in independent study?
Upchuck - (shivers) No... not the closet.
Ms. Barch - Now, the reason for the change is that I've received a brand new... (distastefully) ...learning aid. (pulls out a mobile made of Ultra Cola cans, and begins reading off a cue card) "Why, look, students. A three-dimensional model of our solar system, graciously provided by Ultra Cola. Ultra Cola: the favorite beverage in any universe." (sighs) "We can use it to discuss which planets' atmospheres might support the process of carbonation." Or I can just spend the rest of the day in the teachers' bathroom, staring at the tiles. (leaves)
Ms. Li - (over P.A.) Good Ultra Cola morning, students. I am pleased to announce an Ultra Cola schedule change. From now on, the period between classes will be increased from five minutes to 10, allowing you more time to get to your Ultra Cola lockers, organize your Ultra Cola backpacks, and still enjoy a delicious Ultra Cola. Ultra Cola: the refreshing way to learn. (clicks off)
(in the hallway)
Jane - You don't think they're going to try to make Mr. DeMartino use Ultra Cola in his class lessons, do you?
(Daria peers into Mr. DeMartino's classroom, where he's struggling with a globe shaped like an Ultra Cola can)
Mr. DeMartino - Argh! Stupid... argh! Stupid cola... argh... frngn... brmflp... marketing contract... argh...! (throws globe with a crash)
Daria - (resumes walking) What was the question?
Brittany - (crying) Oh, Kevvy, it's terrible! How can I face the world?
(pan to Kevin and Brittany; Kevin's uniform is now in Ultra Cola colors with the company logo, and Brittany's new uniform is an Ultra Cola can)
Kevin - It's okay, babe. You look, uh... cute.
Brittany - What do you mean?
Kevin - Kind of, uh... round and shiny.
Kevin - Uh... I like that in a woman?
(Brittany stomps on Kevin's foot with an angry sob)
Kevin - Ow! (runs away)
(Brittany approaches Daria and Jane)
Brittany - I hate this stupid uniform! You can't build a human pyramid in this. Everybody keeps rolling off! Oh, God... my arms. I can't feel my arms! (runs off crying)
(in Ms. Li's office)
Lamm - You see? You're still falling short of your quotas. And I don't need to tell you, those sales have to be made up.
Ms. Li - I don't know what to do. I put in all the machines they asked for. I put up all the advertising they asked for. I instituted the learning aids. What more can I do? What more can I do?
Lamm - If only the students had some motivation to drink soda beyond simple thirst.
Ms. Li - But that's crazy talk. What other motivation could there be?
Lamm - You're right, it's stupid. By the way... how are your students' grades this period?
Ms. Li - Huh?
(in the gymnasium)
(Ms. Li is pacing in front of the team, which is assembled on the bleachers)
Ms. Li - Don't you people like having that new scoreboard? Don't you like the digital tackling dummies and the new towels that don't smell like a farm animal's privates?
Kevin - Um... sure.
Ms. Li - Well, why don't you show your appreciation?
Mack - Do you want us to call the Asian-American Women in Education's Caucus again?
Ms. Li - No! I want you to drink more soda, damn it! Soda! Soda! Soda, soda, soda!
Kevin - But we drink that bulk-up powder, Ms. Li. For the ladies.
Ms. Li - Forget bulking up, damn it. Who on this team has an average below C? (all but Mack raise their hands) Never mind. Just put up your hand if your average is above C. (only Mack raises his hand) Okay, the rest of you. I'll raise your average half a point for every ten cans of Ultra Cola you drink. If you've got a 60 average, drink 20 cans and you'll have a 61! We'll call it an extra-credit mini-course in the science of motivation. What do you say?
Ms. Li - All right, men. Give 'em hell. And drink, my lads, drink.
(players cheer as they leave; only Mack remains behind)
Mack - Ms. Li, are you sure you want to do this?
Ms. Li - Just what are you saying, Mr. MacKenzie? It's unethical? Immoral? In direct conflict with my role as an educator?
Mack - Well, yeah, but mostly I was thinking I'm the only one on the team who can count by halves.
Ms. Li - Hmph! (into tape recorder) Note to self: calculators for the football team. ASAP!
(in the cafeteria)
(football players are drinking can after can of cola)
Ms. Li - Ah. I love the smell of cola in the morning. (leaves)
(at the football field; school band is playing)
Upchuck - The Oakwood Taproots look ready for a whipping, but our Lawndale Lions aren't here to do the clipping. (pan from the Oakwood team to the Lawndale bench, where Mack sits alone) I see mighty Mack... but where, oh, where, could the other Lions be?
(pan to Lawndale cheerleaders, all decked out in Ultra Cola uniforms)
Brittany - All right, girls... (sobs) ...just the way we rehearsed it.
Cheerleaders - Win, Lions, win! Fight, Lions, fight! Drink Ultra Cola till your pants feel tight! Run and pass and block and blitz. Drink Ultra Cola and never mind the zits. Go... Lions! (girls collapse and groan)
Upchuck - Hold on, folks. I've got star QB Kevin Thompson on the phone. Kevin, tell the loyal fans what you just told me. (holds phone up to microphone)
Kevin - (over phone) Um, hey everybody. Uh, how's it going? Um, I'm real sorry about this but, um, the Lions have to forfeit. We've all got... tummy aches.
Upchuck - Oh, no, Kevin! To what do you attribute this? The dreaded influenza?
Kevin - (over phone) No. Too much Ultra Cola! (burps) I got to go to the bathroom.
(in the stands, Ms. Li slurps Ultra Cola while Leonard Lamm looks on disapprovingly)
(in Ms. Li's office)
(Mrs. Bennett sits and drinks cola; the office is littered with Ultra Cola cans)
Ms. Li - Drink up, damn it!
Mrs. Bennett - Eep. (drinks)
Ms. Li - (pacing) Leonard Lamm says a forfeited home game is a violation of our contract with Ultra Cola. I'm already in deep horse plops for missing the sales quotas.
Mrs. Bennett - What about all that soda the team drank?
Ms. Li - Yeah, yeah, but he said since it was from the cafeteria, it didn't count! It had to come from the machines. But nobody told me. Nobody told me, I tell you!
Mrs. Bennett - Calm down, Ms. Li. Maybe you should lay off the Ultra Cola for a little while.
Ms. Li - Lay off the Ultra Cola? Can't lay off the Ultra Cola. Got to drink. Drink cola. I told you to drink up, damn it!
(Mrs. Bennett slurps more cola)
Ms. Li - I know. Call the elementary schools. They're always looking for a cheap field trip. Tell them to get their kids over here right away for soda, soda, soda!
Mrs. Bennett - Do you think that's...
Ms. Li - Just do it! I can't just sit here. I've got to move some product, damn it! (over P.A.) Attention, students. Everyone out in the halls for soda. Now!
(Ms. Li runs out into the hallway and smashes open the emergency fire hose, grabbing the axe and setting off the alarm; she's obviously crazed from too much stress and caffeine)
Ms. Li - (runs around smashing machines open) Must drink soda. Soda from machines. Everybody gather round the pretty machines. Ooh!
(kids cheer as they scoop up soda cans)
Ms. Li - (attacking machine with little success) Ooh, ooh, ooh! Open up, you lousy damn machine! Give up the soda in your bowels! Soda! Soda! Must have soda! Oh!
(alarm rings and kids cheer as they gorge on Ultra Cola; in the midst of this, Daria and Jane look on as Superintendent Cartwright arrives and takes in the scene)
(outside the school; Ms. Li is loaded into an ambulance)
Ms. Li - (shouts as ambulance pulls away) Everybody keep drinking!
(on the school roof)
Jane - So the gigantic soda machines are gone from the hallways.
Daria - But still in the cafeterias.
Jane - And the advertising is gone from the walls.
Daria - But still in the school paper.
Jane - And the Ultra Cola logo is gone from the uniforms.
Daria - But still on the tickets.
Jane - I take it you don't consider this an all-out triumph for the forces of good.
Daria - Did they or did they not release Ms. Li from the hospital?
Jane - Good point, but come on, Daria. They changed the Ultra Cola contract so they can't advertise inside the school, and thanks to Ms. Li's little freak-out, no one traced it to you. Isn't that some kind of victory?
Daria - (stands) I don't know. Ask those people. (points at an airplane passing overhead)
(in the plane, a little girl looks out the window at the roof of Lawndale High, which is painted with several Ultra Cola logos)