The following article by G.J. Donnelly discusses "Is It College Yet?" and laments the demise of the series.
I already miss that monotone. I already miss those boots.
Daria's five seasons on MTV come to an end with this typically droll, but atypically poignant, 2002 made-for-cable film, in which our heroine makes some tough life choices and, in doing so, inspires those around her to do the same.
Girl power -- what the Spice Girls used to boast about -- has always been at the core of the Daria world. Without rubbing viewers' noses in feminist dogma, creator Glenn Eichler (who co-wrote the film) and co. have created a world where women generally hold sway. Daria's mother, Helen, alternately shallow and shrewd, is the real head of the Morgendorffer household. Money-crazy Ms. Li is the principal of Lawndale High. Levelheaded Jodie is the school's shining academic light. And, of course, Daria's sardonic sidekick, Jane Lane, is our heroine's conscience and sounding board.
By contrast, most of the show's male population is depicted as either crazy or incompetent. The most notable example: Daria's hyper dad, Jake, a David Letterman lookalike. But that changed last season with the addition of Tom Sloan, described by Daria (voiced, as always, by the redoubtable Tracy Grandstaff) as "caring in the not-pukey way." Tom is the handsome, intelligent and wealthy guy who became Daria's first beau.
The Daria-Tom relationship is central to this film, which follows the Lawndale High gang's preparations for graduation. Daria is invited to join Tom and his mother on a road trip to snooty Bromwell, an elite school where they both have applied. Thanks to his family connections, Tom's virtually a shoo-in ("Your uncle built them a wing," Daria reminds him), whereas Daria, despite her impressive grades, is a long shot. Although her festering resentment threatens their relationship, our heroine tackles the problem with maturity. Her resolution of the conflict proves that Daria is ready for the demands of adulthood. In fact, she's better prepared for adulthood than anyone else in her world.
But Daria isn't the only maturing Morgendorffer. Quinn, our heroine's helium-voiced, fashion-obsessed baby sister, has also come a long way. In 2001's Daria: Is It Fall Yet? viewers were gratified to see Quinn embrace her intelligent side after a stint with a handsome tutor. Here, Quinn falls in with a college crowd after taking a hostess job at a posh restaurant. Unfortunately, a new co-worker's fondness for alcohol tries her patience. Quinn deals with the situation with frankness and integrity, and it's a credit to both her character and the example set by her older sister.
The remaining subplots range from the silly (a misunderstanding makes one teacher believe she's received a marriage proposal from another) to the angst-ridden (Jane is anxious about her application to a top-flight art college; Jodie wants to attend an African-American college against her father's wishes). Yet even at its most far-fetched, this animated film approaches the teenage experience much more realistically than shows like Dawson's Creek.
I am genuinely sad to see our heroine leave the MTV nest, but as a fan, I could not ask for a better send-off than this. Daria's remarks at graduation define her legacy much better than I could and the surprising closing credits are a real hoot.
But perhaps this isn't the end. Eichler is currently developing a series that revolves around Jane's lazy brother Trent and his grunge band Mystik Spiral. Maybe Daria will pop up on that show from time to time. Until then (sigh), this is it. -- G.J. Donnelly