Episode Guide

Episode #101 - March 3, 1997
Written by Glenn Eichler

Song List Entries For This Episode
Oops! List Entries For This Episode
Transcript For This Episode
"Sealed With a Kick" (pilot)
"The Invitation" (#102)

Regular: Daria, Quinn, Helen, Jake, Jane, Brittany, Kevin, Sandi, Stacy, Mr. DeMartino, Ms. Li, Mr. O'Neill

Guest: Mrs. Manson, Corey, Artie, SSW Reporter, Old Man on SSW

Non-Speaking: Andrea, Coach Gibson

Summary: On her first day at Lawndale High, Daria is diagnosed with low self-esteem and is forced to take a special class. There, she meets artist and fellow cynic Jane, and together, they scheme to get out of the class.

Full Synopsis: It's the first day of school for Daria and Quinn, who have just moved with their parents to Lawndale from Highland (the land of Beavis and Butt-head), and it's pretty typical for Daria: she's ignored by the other students, shunned by her sister (who's instantly adopted by the popular crowd and would later claim to be an only child), singled out for humiliation by her psychotic history teacher, and subjected to a ridiculous psychological exam, which she blows off with sarcastic, smart-alec remarks. These remarks come back to haunt her, however, when Helen receives a call from the school: they're concerned that Daria is exhibiting low self-esteem (which she denies), and want her to take a self-esteem class. At this news, Helen and Jake enter "concerned parent" mode, Quinn becomes worried that this would affect her reputation, and Daria just wishes it would all go away. Unfortunately, she has no choice but to take the class, which is run by her wishy-washy, touchy-feely English teacher. When Daria tries to make sense of Mr. O'Neill's psychobabble, she's advised by a fellow student to just "sit back and enjoy the nice man's soothing voice." Walking home after class, Daria discovers that the student, Jane, is something of a kindred spirit: creative, sarcastic, and just as weary of idiots and poseurs as she is. As the days go by and the class drags on, Daria and Jane (who's in several of Daria's other classes) begin forming a friendship, but when Daria reaches the breaking point over her parent's concern for her progress, they hatch a scheme to pass the exit test and get out of the class once and for all. (This is no problem for Jane, who has deliberately taken the class six times and knows the answers by heart.) Unfortunately, it works too well: Mr. O'Neill is so impressed by their "rapid progress" that he wants to publically congratulate them at the next school assembly. Daria and Jane agree to his request, but when the time comes for them to make a speech, they do things their way: Jane causes a scene by faking a "self-esteem relapse" and running off the stage, sobbing, while Daria launches into a cliché-ridden acceptance speech that pointedly thanks "her sister, Quinn." Quinn is humiliated, but that's just the tip of the iceberg, as Daria fulfills her wish of making her family suffer by guilt-tripping them into attending a U.F.O. convention.

Interesting Tidbits
  • Daria's response to Mrs. Manson's psychological test -- "a herd of beautiful wild ponies running free across the plains" -- would come full circle in the final regular episode of the series, "Boxing Daria" (#513).
  • Daria's answer to Mr. DeMartino's question about Manifest Destiny would be revisited by Quinn (with a slight twist) in "Is It Fall Yet?".
  • Helen's reference to Highland (and Daria's quip about uranium in its drinking water) would be the only direct reference to Daria's tenure on Beavis and Butt-head to ever be made in the series.
  • This episode marks the beginning of the "she's my cousin" running gag, which would ultimately be resolved in "Lucky Strike" (#506).
  • Artie would later appear in "The Lawndale File" (#311) and "A Tree Grows in Lawndale" (#403).
  • Corey would occasionally appear in later episodes as a background character.
  • Daria's quip about borrowing the car contradicts the fact that she hadn't yet learned to drive (chalk this one up to it being early in the series, where not all details had been nailed down yet). Daria would start practicing to drive in "Through A Lens Darkly" (#301), and would receive her license in "Speedtrapped" (#310).
  • Quinn's remarks to Mrs. Manson about "movie, burger, back seat" implies that she's somewhat promiscuous, which is contradicted in "This Year's Model" (#306) (where she refuses to rub a boy's chest) and "Daria Dance Party" (#304) (where she claims she "doesn't slow dance until after the fifth date"). Again, this can be blamed on it being an early episode, before the characters' traits were firmly nailed down.
Historical & Cultural References:
  • One of the boys in the self-esteem class is wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of the title character from "The Head," a series of stories from MTV's animated anthology series MTV Oddities.
  • Pizza Forest is a parody (right down to the singing animals) of kid-themed pizza restaurants like Chuck E. Cheese.
Memorable Quotes
Ms. Li - As you can see, our Lawndale high students take great pride in their school. That's why you'll each be taking a small psychological exam to spot any little clouds on the horizon as you sail the student seas of Lawndale High.
Daria - S.O.S., girl overboard.
Quinn - Nobody told me about any test!
Daria - (sarcastic) Don't worry. It's a psychological test. You're automatically exempt.
Quinn - (doesn't get it) Oh. All right.

Quinn - Let's see... they've been going out for awhile, and he's upset because other people keep asking her out, and she saying she can't help it if she's attractive and popular, and besides, nobody ever said they were going steady, and if he does want to go steady he's got to do a lot better than movie, burger, back seat, movie, burger, back seat, because there are plenty of guys with bigger back seats waiting to take her someplace nice!

Mrs. Manson - Now, Dora, let's see if you can make up a story as vivid as your sister's.
Daria - It's Daria.
Mrs. Manson - I'm sorry... Daria. What do you see in the picture, Dara?
Daria - Um... a herd of beautiful wild ponies running free across the plains.
Mrs. Manson - Uh, there aren't any ponies. It's two people.
Daria - Last time I took one of these tests they told me they were clouds. They said they could be whatever I wanted.
Mrs. Manson - That's a different test, dear. In this test, they're people and you tell me what they're discussing.
Daria - Oh... I see. All right, then. It's a guy and a girl and they're discussing... a herd of beautiful wild ponies running free across the plains.

Mr. DeMartino - Daria, can you concisely and unemotionally sum up for us the doctrine of Mainfest Destiny?
Daria - Mainfest Destiny was a slogan popular in the 1840s. It was used by people who claimed it was God's will for the U.S. to expand all the way to the Pacific Ocean. (pause) These people did not include many Mexicans.

Helen - Daria, your father's trying to tell you not to judge people until you know them. You're in a brand-new school in a brand-new town. You don't want it to be Highland all over again.
Daria - Not much chance of that happening... unless there's uranium in the drinking water here, too.

Daria - Don't worry. I don't have low self-esteem. It's a mistake.
Jake - I'll say!
Daria - I have low esteem for everyone else.

Daria - Mom? You feeling all right? It's not even 5:00 yet.
Helen - I'm taking the rest of the day off to work with you on your self-esteem.
Daria - Mom, I'm in the care of experts. Any meddling by an amateur could be dangerous.

Boy - So... like what do you like to do after school?
Quinn - Oh, nothing special. Go to the movies. Or, like, a theme park. Or, out for a really fancy meal now and then. Or maybe go to a concert if, like, I know somebody's got good seats and is renting a limo and stuff.
Jane - You hear that? He hasn't got a prayer.
Daria - Tell me about it. That's my sister.
Jane - Oh. Bummer.
Boy - So, you've got any brothers or sisters?
Quinn - I'm an only child.

Mr. O'Neill - What's a daydream that you'd like to see come true?
Daria - Well, I guess I'd like my whole family to do something together.
Mr. O'Neill - Excellent!
Daria - Something that'll really make them suffer.

Jake - How's the old self-esteem coming, kiddo?
Daria - My self-esteem teacher says that being addressed all my life with childish epithets like "kiddo" is probably a key source of my problem.
Jake - (distressed) Really?
Daria - No.

SSW Reporter - This is just astounding! Here you are, blind, deaf, and barely able to walk, yet you conducted simultaneous affairs with three members of the royal family! The question on all of America's mind is: how did you do it?
Old Man - What?
Jane - She doesn't get it. It's the royal family. You'd have to be blind.
Daria - Good point.

Daria - You know all the answers to the questions on the release test, right?
Jane - I've got them in my notebook.
Daria - Well, why don't we just take the test tomorrow and get out of the class once and for all?
Jane - How would I spend my afternoons?
Daria - U.F.O. conventions.
Jane - Now you're talking.

Ms. Li - Now, Mr. O'Neill has exciting news about our after-school self-esteem class.
Daria - (dryly) This is really going to help me gradually ease into student life.
Jane - Usually when I have this dream I'm wearing pink taffeta.

Jane - I just want to say how proud I am today. Knowing that I have self-esteem gives me even more self-esteem. (glances at Daria, smirks, then launches into her act) On the other hand, having all of you know that I had low self-esteem makes me feel... kind of bad... like a big failure or something... (audience starts tittering) I... uh... I want to go home! (sobs and runs off stage)
(audience laughs)
Mr. O'Neill - Daria, wait! (runs after Jane)
Mike Quinn's
Delayed Reaction Review

Advice Avoidance: Quinn and Daria know their father well enough not to take (or even listen to) his advice in the car on the way to the first day of school. Of course, Jake means well but most of the stuff he was saying was painfully obvious or of no use to either of them. Actually, at first I thought Daria and Quinn just wanted to hear the song, I kind of liked it.

Misadventures in Parenting: When Helen wants to try to help Daria's self esteem she decides to take her out to "do something you want to do." Well, helping Helen try on identical business suits (except for color) is hardly something Daria would want to do (or anyone else, for that matter). The way Helen handles the news of Daria's low self esteem ("can my assistant handle it?") leaves a lot to be desired. She also means well but just doesn't know how to get through.

And the Bitter Teacher of the Year Award goes to... Daria's new history teacher, who has a sadistic streak. Teaching Kevin and Brittany types for any length of time can do that to you. He doesn't seem to mind making life miserable for his students despite the fact that most of them are oblivious.

And the Flaky Teacher of the Year Award goes to... the self-esteem teacher. Speaking of oblivious, he didn't even remember Jane, who had gone through the course six times. He had no idea what he was talking about ("realizing your actuality;" come on!) in teaching. It's almost like he's low man on the totem pole and got stuck teaching self-esteem. C'mon, he thought brake fluid is involved in shifting gears!!!

This episode is a promising start on what looks to be a good series. Daria was witty and perceptive about some of the real-life situations many high school kids go through (especially after a big move). All of the characters are introduced nicely and the plot really relates to how Daria may feel while being thrust into a new environment.

Grade: B+

Copyright © 1998 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.