Essay #5 by Bacner (

Sister, Sister


In the essay that have started the series of mine essays, I have talked about the Morgendorffer side of the Barksdale-Morgendorffer family. And now I'm going to talk about the Barksdale side of it, or rather - "the famous bickering Barksdale sisters" (Wyvern337). So what can we say about them?

They're all different, for a start.

Helen - the businesswoman, the lawyer, straight and true. Well, maybe not straight as an arrow, but she certainly doesn't make money in her basement either. But - at the same time a terrible mother and housewife, the reverse side of the coin? Why? Because of her line of work? Well, partially. In at least one original "Daria" episode - "College Bored" - she seemingly came to grief with Daria over her work, and it is often used as a major stumbling block in her relationship with Daria in any piece of fiction, serious or otherwise. Why? Helen obviously isn't meek or scared easily; she's got a drive that can - when she wants - shake-up Daria's rather impressive bulwarks of defence with a relative ease, if not bulldoze down altogether. And - she wants to bond with her family as her numerous attempts at the dining room demonstrate. But - something is holding her back. Why?

My opinion is that Helen got metaphorically burned while raising her kids. As impressive Helen Morgendorffer nee Barksdale is, Julius Caesar who could do seven things at once she isn't. Ergo, if she got carried away by her work, she could mess-up at home, and with Daria, who's a really complex child to deal with, that may've all it took to somehow get Helen back. Badly. In one of my stories Daria was actually lost in Texan wilderness for three and got back to the Morgendorffers only by a miracle (I'm working on the details of how that happened). In the official series (and in Mike Yamiolkovski's P.O.V.) it happened just because of Daria's early blooming loner attitude. The truth lies probably somewhere in the middle, but it is there: Helen is probably insecure in her parent role and tries to avoid it and to fill it at the same time. She messes up. Badly. But the hope's still there.

Rita. Mother's girl, the favourite, the beauty of the siblings. (Almost said Quinn.) Also - the ditz, the spoilt girl, the dumb blonde. Well, the latter is a stereotype, and the presence of also blonde Brittany on the show didn't help Rita's case any. According to "Daria"-fans Daria's older aunt is a blond ditz, and that's it. However, keep in mind the point that Kara Wild mentioned in her "None in the family" two-parter: Rita got sort-of passed-by by her siblings. After all, stereotypes may be stupid, but they have power (if "dumb blonde" was actually "dumb brunette" would we see a black-haired Brittany? Or a white-headed Jane?), and, keep in mind, both Helen and Amy were probably smarter than their sister at some point. Amy - because, like Daria, she may've been an avid reader starting at an early age (let's leave it so at the moment), and Helen, well, Helen, like Quinn, may not be initially smart and can drive herself to success in any field, beauty or brain. And Rita is probably like her daughter Erin than like Quinn as some would think - an ordinary girl, with good looks but average brains. It is quite probable that Rita's a "mother's girl" as Quinn's a "VP of the FC".

And Amy. Daria in the early thirties or something like that. Nemo Blank in his "Too Many Choices" actually made Daria Quinn's cousin, by making her Amy's daughter (thanks God that not Rita's) by a musician Eddie Starr, thus explaining why Daria felt the attraction for the musician Trent Lane that was completely returned (in this fic). (Another author, Michelle Klein-Hass made Daria daughter of Helen by another man, based on a semi-obscure line from the episode "The Lab Brat", and let's not forget Canadibrit's "TLAS"-series - that's one of the main story plots there.) And there's evidence in the show that Amy and Daria are more alike than Daria and Helen - in the episode "Aunt Nauseum" one of Amy's sisters tells the audience that Amy was reading novels at an early age - something that Daria would likely to do.

But are Amy and Daria really alike? The catch here is that Amy actually appears too little on the original show: "I Don't", "Through a Lens Darkly", and "Aunt Nauseum". And in all three eps she shows similarities closer to Daria's than to anyone other (and at least "I Don't" and "Aunt Nauseum" are family eps, so not a wide field for comparison) on that show, so... assumptions are made.

And now we turn to the family specifics of the Barksdale sisters - why are they famously bickering?

Well, sibling rivalry is an obvious first. But - sibling rivalry with a twist. I think I'm going to make a guess and say that in the Barksdale family Helen and Rita would be doing most of arguing with Amy fading in the background or ignoring them - in "I Don't" she hints that she prefers to let her older sisters work things out on their own - or not. Now, unlike a major three-way-fight like in "Aunt Nauseum", in a simple one-on-one I cannot help but think that a lawyer, or even a pro-lawyer Helen could take on "Mommy's Girl" Rita easily, and even moreso now, when she's an independent woman and Rita still depends on her mother, at least financially. But, here's where Helen's mental frame comes into action.

You see, all of this talk of Rita and Grandmother Barksdale working in a single team against Helen made me think of a parental favouritism of a sort. Given that Helen's grumbles about her mother (and Rita) are only marginally milder than Jake's rants about his father, makes me think that both problems have roots long in the past, but Jake's father is dead, so any further progress will be one-sided, while Helen's family is still much alive (except for her father). Ergo, I'm thinking, that Grandmother Barksdale favours Rita over Helen and Amy because of their respected attitudes: they may've been much more independent and disobedient than Rita, and that caused Mrs. Barksdale to favour Rita, and that caused Helen and Amy to move further away from their mother and so on... It's a witch's ring, to quote the Vikings - a circle of trouble. Plus, there's no semi-external influence to diffuse it - grandfather Barksdale's gone, and Jake has too much of his own problems to be an efficient problem-solver (especially when he sets his mind to be one). So - there you are.

So, let's come back to the present tense of Daria's reality. The three girls have grown-up, became women. And their family problems have matured as well. Currently, Helen and Rita are caught in a perpetual feud, while Amy is watching from the sidelines as usual, with getting drawn-in sometimes...

And then we come to the daughters of Barksdale sisters (I wonder what kind of kid Amy Barksdale would have, not counting Daria), Daria, Quinn, and Erin.

We all know about Daria. My first essay was practically on her, with some side notes about Jane Lane and Tom Sloane. Basically, if she's the new Amy (and Helen Morgendorffer may perceive her as such - there's no proof otherwise), then Helen, who may be like her mother, worries that Daria will move away and abandon her in also Amy style. (And there's a semi-popular motion that Helen is like Grandmother Barksdale in body, face, and attitude. Then Quinn, who is also like her mother, may be the next Grandmother Barksdale in a couple of decades or so. Her red hair was also discussed in my number one essay.) Another reason may be that Helen was not always that blooming socialite that she was today. People change with time, and nobody can say with certainty that Helen wasn't more like Daria than herself when she was Daria's age. Ergo, Helen currently is trying to make Daria avid her mistakes in the past - or what she perceives to be them. (And of course Helen would probably give-up her car keys than admit to being wrong or making a mistake, right?)

Quinn. For some reason some authors (Like Galen Hardesty) think that Quinn is the new Rita. That draws-in a question: then whom Erin going to be? Helen? Personally I think that if you discount her bright red hair, Quinn is like her mother, Erin is like hers.

Another thing that is similar between Rita and Quinn are their troubles in money land. But what proof do we have? That Grandmother Barksdale financed Erin's wedding? Well, maybe she wanted to, and Rita was too shy to say no? As for Quinn and her financial dependence on Helen and Jake - well, there are two sides to any problem. If Helen and Jake weren't so free-handed with their cash, mayhaps Quinn wouldn't be so spendthrifty and irresponsible. Besides, what, in addition to money, Quinn receives from her parents? Helen, it seems prefers to listen to Daria's sarcasm rather to her bubbling, and Jake's, well, Jake. His attention is sometimes more problematic than lack of it. So, it is possible that Quinn begs for money so that her parents would once break out of their mould and treat her as a family member rather than an extortionist of some sort.

And Erin. Her case is saddest one of all, as far as I can see. Whom does she have? Her mother? Rita's not the best role model as far as I'm concerned. A remark of Helen's in "I Don't" makes me think that Erin's father isn't Paul whom we saw in the same episode, and read again what I've written about Rita before: To compensate for the rebelliousness of Helen and Amy Rita became something like Stacy and Tiffany of FC, with Grandmother Barksdale taking a role similar to Sandi's. Thus, she probably manages the life of at least one daughter of hers with an iron hand and that management doesn't probably end with Rita either: Erin may be drawn-in as well. Thus, Erin may become the new Rita, unless she shows some signs of the adverb "Still waters run deep". And it is rather hard for her to do so, since she only appeared in the episode "I Don't", and only a few - two-three - fanfics.

So, what do I want to say in conclusion? Barksdale family problems (and they have them) makes Morgendorffer family problems appear simple. That is true. Jake's and Ruth's troubles with their father and husband were (and are) no less violent than the Barksdale women's problems with each other. But - the lesser the people involved, the smaller the conflict. Thus, Barksdale family conflict is much more likely to involve more and more people as time passes than the Morgendorffer one. Thus, I think the Barksdales should see some family therapy, stat, before the conflict gets completely out of hand and they'll be unable to resolve it for good.