Episode Guide

Arts 'N Crass
Episode #201
Written by Glenn Eichler

(opening theme song)

(at the Morgendorffer house)

(Daria enters the kitchen to find Helen, Jake, and Quinn at the table; Jake is sobbing uncontrollably)

Jake - What have I done? Oh, God, what have I done...

Helen - It's all right, Jake. We'll get through this as a family.

Quinn - Yeah, don't worry, Daddy. We're here for you no matter what. (looks at watch and gasps) I'm going to miss Upcoming Attractions! (leaves)

(Jake resumes sobbing)

Daria - What's wrong?

Helen - Your father had a little business setback, dear. He lost a client.

Jake - "I got a great idea," he said. "A million dollar idea," he said. "Cigars for pets. What do you think?" he said. "I want you to be honest," he said. What the hell made me believe him?

Helen - Jake, everyone slips up once in a while.

Daria - He fired you for being honest?

Jake - It was entrapment!

Daria - So it's off to the sneaker sweatshop for me and Quinn?

Helen - Don't be ridiculous, you two. You know I've got more work than I can handle, and you'll get busy again, Jakey. Just be patient.

Jake - But what'll I do in the meantime?

Helen - You always said you want to work on your cooking.

Daria - If you're looking for a way to occupy yourself, there are plenty of chores that need doing around here.

(Helen and Jake glare at Daria)

Daria - What? You get to say it.

(at Lawndale High, in Ms. Defoe's class)

(Ms. Defoe is wandering amongst the students, checking on their progress)

Mrs. Defoe - (to Daria) Good. (walks up to Brittany, whose painting is a mess of dirty browns) Brittany, did you spill your paint?

Brittany - Um, no?

(Ms. Li and Mr. O'Neill walk in)

Mr. O'Neill - Is this a good time, Ms. Defoe?

Ms. Defoe - Yes, come on in. Class, Ms. Li and Mr. O'Neill have some intriguing news.

Ms. Li - Lawndale High is participating in a state-wide art contest.

Mr. O'Neill - That's why we chose an art class to be the place to announce it.

Ms. Li - The theme of the contest is "Student Life at the Dawn of the Millennium."

Mr. O'Neill - What's it like to be a high school student in today's fast-changing world.

Ms. Li - Entry is strictly voluntary, of course, although frankly, I don't see how any of you could think of passing up the chance to bring honor unto yourself and Lawndale High.

Jane - "Unto"?

Daria - Buckle my shoe.

Mr. O'Neill - Ms. Defoe will choose the entries from each art class, and I'm contest coordinator for the school. Good luck, kids!

Ms. Li - Students, I urge you to take this opportunity. Curiosity... inquiry... expression... these are the building blocks of education.

Brittany - Ma'am?

Ms. Li - No questions! Good luck, all! (leaves with Mr. O'Neill)

(bell rings)

Brittany - I wanted to tell her I've got a great idea for a poster!

Daria - Me, too. Mine's going to be about cheerleading.

Brittany - Oh, no! Now what'll I do?

Kevin - How about something on quarterbacks, babe?

(Brittany ignores him and walks out)

Kevin - Hey! (follows Brittany)

Ms. Defoe - Jane, can you stay a minute?

(Jane, eyebrow raised, turns and walks back into the classroom; Daria continues on, but turns and waits just outside the door)

Ms. Defoe - Jane, I'm eager to see what all the students come up with for this contest.

Jane - All the students who choose to participate.

Ms. Defoe - But I really can't wait to see your entry.

Jane - Well, you know, I really don't think artists should compete with each other. See, I believe in a community of creativity.

Ms. Defoe - You're such an accomplished artist, and such an original thinker. If there's anyone in this school who can capture student life today, it's you. I just want to say, good luck.

Jane - ("ah, hell") Thanks.

(Daria and Jane walking home from school)

Jane - Dammit! Why did she have to be so nice? Now I have to come up with some stupid poster about student life.

Daria - Where to start? There's so much to hate about it.

(Jane and Daria stop)

Jane - You know, nobody said the message had to be positive. I'm going to do something that really represents student life.

Daria - Yes.

Jane - And tell the truth about how much it can suck.

Daria - Yes.

Jane - To blow away the story-book fantasy about how great it is to be young.

Daria - Yes.

Jane - And you're going to help.

Daria - No.

(at the Lane house)

(television screen shows a baby dressed in a leather-and-chrome getup)

SSW Announcer - Neo-natal skinheads, next on Sick, Sad World.

(Jane clicks off the TV; she and Daria are sitting on the edge of her bed)

Jane - You gotta help me. You're the most negative person I know.

Daria - Thanks.

Jane - (pleading) Come on! Now's your chance to tell the world what you really think of life at Lawndale High.

Daria - Tell the world that I, Daria Morgendorffer, have something to say.

Jane - Yes!

Daria - No.

Jane - (pleading) Come on!

Daria - (sighs) All right. I'll make my personal statement, and I'll stand behind it.

Jane - I knew you would.

Daria - But only on condition of strict anonymity.

Jane - You're a real Joan of Arc, you know that?

Daria - Yeah, and I think I just ordered a stake.

(at the pizza place)

(Daria and Jane are sitting in their usual booth, a pizza on the table between them)

Daria - How about we call it, "America's Future Leaders," and we just enlarge a picture of Kevin and Brittany?

Jane - Come on, that's too depressing. How about we call it, "Beauty is only Skin Deep," and we attach the actual skin of a student?

Daria - Oh, I like that. I wonder if we can talk Quinn into donating hers?

Jane - I'm starting to think this is going to require more pizza.

Daria - I'm starting to agree with you.

(time passes; the table is now littered with the remnants of several more pizzas, sodas, plates, and so on; both girls look like they could hurl at any moment)

Jane - (moans) Where were we?

Daria - We were talking about hanging a roll of fly paper and calling it, "It's Important to Be Attractive."

Jane - Oh, yeah. With or without flies?

Daria - (suppresses a gag) Did they add another quart of grease to the pizza recipe?

Jane - One more slice? (holds up a slice)

Daria - No, I already feel like I might throw up. (pause) Hey!

(at Lawndale High, in Ms. Defoe's class)

Ms. Defoe - Well, it's very gratifying to see so much participation in the art contest. (walks up to Upchuck) Charles, what's the name of your poster?

(Upchuck's poster is of a guy in a leather jacket, sitting on the hood of a muscle car, with a gorgeous woman on each arm; the guy looks remarkably like Upchuck)

Upchuck - I call it, "Ride, Chucky, Ride."

Ms. Defoe - And what exactly does it say about student life at the century's edge?

Upchuck - It's more of a personal mission statement.

Daria - Mission impossible, he means.

(Ms. Defoe walks up to Brittany; her poster is a crude depiction of several bottles of alcohol and pills)

Ms. Defoe - Tell us about your poster, Brittany.

Brittany - I call it, "Don't Drink or Take Drugs." And the message is, don't drink or take drugs!

Ms. Defoe - But how do we get that message? All I see is the alcohol and the drugs, with no negative imagery to symbolize their dangers.

(Brittany reaches into her bag, takes out a tube of lipstick, and proceeds to draw a large circle with a slash -- the international "NO" symbol -- over the poster)

Brittany - There!

Ms. Defoe - Well, Brittany, that's... um... let's talk after class.

(Ms. Defoe walks up to Jane)

Ms. Defoe - And Jane, what did you decide?

(Jane's poster depicts a beautiful young girl gazing happily into a mirror)

Ms. Defoe - Oh, she's beautiful! (reads the card attached to the bottom) "She knows she's a winner, she couldn't be thinner, now she goes in the bathroom and vomits up dinner?" Oh, Jane, I don't think that's funny.

Jane - Um, you don't?

Ms. Defoe - Do you think it's funny to make fun of someone with an eating disorder?

Jane - No! But...

Daria - (whispers) It's not meant to be funny.

Jane - It's not meant to be funny.

Ms. Defoe - Well, then, do you think it's your place to pass judgement on someone with a low self-image just because you don't have that problem yourself?

Jane - But that's not what I'm saying at all.

Ms. Defoe - Then what are you saying?

Jane - I'm saying that people shouldn't... uh...

Daria - (rolls eyes) She's saying that all the emphasis on appearance today can be dangerous. The girl is very pretty, and your first reaction is, "Oh, what a happy teenager!" But maybe that's not the whole story. Maybe that prettiness comes at a price.

Ms. Defoe - Oh, is that what you're saying, Jane?

Jane - Pretty much.

Ms. Defoe - And you felt you had to say it in such graphic, unappealing language.

(Ms. Defoe and Jane both look at Daria)

Daria - The choice of words was deliberate, to contrast with the beauty of the image and shock the viewer into paying attention.

Ms. Defoe - You know what, Jane? This really is a work of art, and it really does make a statement, in an original way. I'd like you to let me enter it in the state-wide competition.

Jane - Sounds okay.

Ms. Defoe - And how does it sound to your collaborator?

Daria - (to Jane) Next time, I give you a prepared statement.

(in Ms. Li's office)

(Ms. Li is sitting at her desk, Jane and Daria are in chairs facing her, and Mr. O'Neill is standing off to the side, with Jane's poster on an easel next to him)

Mr. O'Neill - Daria, Jane, this poster is beautiful!

Ms. Li - Truly accomplished. A real credit to yourselves and Lawndale High.

Mr. O'Neill - And the poem... a very interesting perspective. Except...

Daria - Yes?

Mr. O'Neill - There's this one line. Ewww.

Daria - Yes?

Mr. O'Neill - I'm just wondering if you would consider changing the part about vomiting up dinner. It's kind of yucky.

Ms. Li - It presents a distasteful picture to the student body. You know we wouldn't want people doing that.

Daria - That's the point.

Mr. O'Neill - So we're all on the same page!

Jane - The girl is so obsessed with being beautiful that it turns her into something really ugly. That's the message of the poster. (looks at Daria and shrugs) So it takes me a while.

Mr. O'Neill - But she looks so pretty and happy. Why not make the theme positive? Instead of "she vomits up dinner," how about "she barely touches dinner?"

Daria - You mean, being that gorgeous is so tiring that she's too exhausted to eat?

Mr. O'Neill - Exactly! See, even beautiful people have problems. So, hang in there, kids!

Jane - (frowns) Boy, you really don't get it at all, do you?

Daria - Look, I didn't even want to write this stupid poem. I don't care about what other people do to themselves. But if you change that line, the poem becomes just another phony dishonest message. It'll applaud the same thing it criticized before. Don't you see that?

Ms. Li - Ms. Morgendorffer, is it so wrong for young people to take pride in the way they look?

Daria - (stands) Do whatever you want to the poster. Just take my name off it.

Jane - (stands) And mine.

Ms. Li - Now, now, ladies. Emotions are running high. Let's all take 24 hours to think about it, hmmm?

Daria - Fine.

Ms. Li - It's your decision to make!

(Daria and Jane leave)

Ms. Li - Call their parents.

(in the faculty lounge)

Mr. O'Neill - (consults address book) Jane Lane. Mrs. Amanda Lane. "Hello, Mrs. Lane!" (picks up phone and dials)

(at the Lane house, Amanda is working on pottery while Trent is asleep in his room; both have loud music playing, so neither one hears the phone)

Mr. O'Neill - (hangs up) Um, okay. (consults address book) Helen Morgendorffer. "Hello, Mrs. Morgendorffer!" (picks up phone and dials)

(at Helen's office)

(Helen is pacing and ranting, Marianne is working on her computer)

Helen - I've got absolutely no paperwork for my three o'clock, I can't find the brief I was supposed to get this morning, and my stationary still has the wrong e-mail address!

Marianne - (picks up phone) Hello?

Helen - Why the hell can't anything ever go right around here?

Marianne - Helen? It's your daughter's teacher.

Helen - Tell them I'll make sure Quinn turns in the assignment on Monday. Oh, and try to find out what the assignment is, and if you could get started making notes on it.

Marianne - It's your other daughter, I think.

Helen - Daria? Well, then, tell them I'll talk to her about her attitude, and try to find out who she insulted and what she said.

Marianne - He says that she has a rare opportunity that he'd hate to see her squander...

Helen - Oh, just give it to me. (takes phone) Helen Morgendorffer.

Mr. O'Neill - Hello, Mrs. Morgenfoffer... uh, Morgendorffer. This is Timothy O'Neill at Lawndale High. I'm your daughter Daria's English teacher.

Helen - Yes, is this about her essay on banning capital punishment and bringing back torture instead? Because that was obviously a joke.

(split-screen between Helen and Mr. O'Neill)

Mr. O'Neill - No, Mrs. Morgendorffer, it's about a poster she helped create. See, we're having a contest concerning student life at the dawn of the millennium...

Helen - Could you possibly speed this up a little? I'm late for two conference calls.

Mr. O'Neill - (rushed) Um, she wrote a very unpleasant poem to go with a very nice picture and I was hoping you would talk to her about maybe reconsidering and rewriting it.

Helen - Fine, I'll be happy to. If this requires further discussion, please feel free to call my husband. (hangs up)

Mr. O'Neill - Eep! (hangs up phone and consults address book again) Jake Morgendorffer. "Hello, Mr. Morgendorffer." (picks up phone and dials)

(Jake is laying on the couch in his office; when the phone rings, he runs and picks it up like a drowning man clinging to a piece of driftwood)

Jake - (rushed) Hello Jake Morgendorffer, Jake Morgendorffer here, what can I do for you, anybody there?

Mr. O'Neill - Ah! (drops phone and runs out)

Jake (VO) - Hello? You've reached the office of Jake Morgendorffer Consulting. For the love of God, do you need to be consulted?

(at the Morgendorffer house)

(the family is sitting at the kitchen table, preparing to eat dinner)

Jake - More penne a la pesto, anyone?

Helen - All right. You friend Jane asked you to help her make a poster.

Jake - If I ever find out who the sadist was who called today...

Helen - You can up with the idea of a pretty girl with an eating disorder.

Daria - Yup.

Helen - Daria, that is so... you.

Daria - Is that a compliment or an insult?

Jake - You know, if you refrigerate this stuff, the pesto kinda gets a little funky. It oxidizes or something. It's best eaten the day it's made. Now, who would like some more?

Helen - Jake, would you put down the damn macaroni and ask your daughter why she has to be so cynical all the time!

Jake - It's not macaroni, Helen!

Helen - She's supposed to be making a poster about student life, and she comes up with the most negative message she could think of.

Daria - It's not negative. It's supportive of students who don't want to be judged by their looks.

Quinn - Oh, come on Daria. People like that don't exist.

Helen - Jake, ask her why she can't be upbeat once in a while.

Jake - You see, Helen, if this was supposed to be macaroni and cheese, it would be very bad. But it's penne a la pesto, and judged by the standards of penne a la pesto, it's very good.

Helen - Jake, what the hell are you talking about? Are you listening?

Jake - Of course, sure. What I mean is, if this poster is supposed to be propaganda promoting student life, it would be very bad. But if it's supposed to be art expressing Daria's personal vision of student life, it's very good. See?

Daria - (surprised) Thanks, Dad!

Helen - Ugh! (dumps bowl of pasta on Jake's head and storms out)

Jake - (slurps up a few noodles) It's oxidizing.

(walking to school)

Daria - So then, splat! Dinner ends up on top of my dad's head.

Jane - Wow, excellent. Your youthful integrity is tearing your family apart.

Daria - Well, not exactly. My mother came back and mumbled something about PMS and apologized, but at least we don't have to eat leftover macaroni tonight.

Jane - We're still resigning from the poster contest, right? (no answer) Daria?

Daria - I told them I'd at least listen to Mr. O'Neill's point of view, but I didn't make any promises. (pause) I mean, other than that one.

(in Mr. O'Neill's classroom)

Mr. O'Neill - So you see, girls, I don't want to change the intent of the poster. I just want to make it more palatable. You know what they say, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Jane - Not if you're diabetic.

(Brittany walks in)

Brittany - Excuse me, Mr. O'Neill?

Mr. O'Neill - Uh, yes?

Brittany - I want to enter my new poster in the contest.

(she holds up a new poster, depicting a group of kids standing together)

Mr. O'Neill - Oh, that's really nice. What an affirmative message. Togetherness?

Brittany - Um, the message is, "don't join a gang."

Mr. O'Neill - Oh.

Brittany - That's also the title.

Mr. O'Neill - Um, Brittany, I see the gang, but I don't see anything representing "don't."

Brittany - Oh, yeah. (rummages through her pack) Where's my lipstick? (leaves)

Jane - And that's how good art becomes great art.

Mr. O'Neill - Anyway, I have an idea. How about you let me work on the poem for a bit? Maybe I can come up with something that's less abrasive, that gets your point across.

Daria - And if we don't like it?

Mr. O'Neill - Then we'll forget about it and we'll leave the poster the way you made it. You can't lose. What do you say?

Daria - Okay, but quote Mary Poppins again and the deal's off.

(later, in Ms. Li's office)

Ms. Li - Ms. Lane and Ms. Morgendorffer, I believe you're going to be pleased with what Mr. O'Neill has to show you.

Mr. O'Neill - Daria, Jane, I really think I've done it! I've captured the essence of the message while softening the rough edges.

Daria - You stone-washed it? (reads poster) "She knows she's a winner, she couldn't be thinner, because she's careful about what she eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Good nutrition rules." Is this a joke?

Mr. O'Neill - Smart eating habits are no joke, Daria.

Jane - What does this have to do with out poster?

Mr. O'Neill - It turns a negative message into a positive one. She's not pretty because she starves herself into it, she's pretty because she takes care of herself. It's even more powerful than before, because it's upbeat!

Jane - I see. She's not going to throw up anymore. But I might.

Daria - Don't do that. It's downbeat.

Ms. Li - You young women should be thanking Mr. O'Neill for his hard work preserving your message.

Jane - He didn't preserve it. He perverted it.

Daria - He removed all the substance and impact and turned it into meaningless drivel.

Jane - So we'd like our poster back now, please.

Ms. Li - Meaning what?

Daria - Meaning we're withdrawing it from the contest, according to our agreement.

Ms. Li - Excuse me, girls, I didn't make any agreement.

Jane - Mr. O'Neill did.

Ms. Li - Mr. O'Neill is in no position to offer such a deal. The poster will be displayed during the school board meeting tomorrow night and then will be entered into the contest, and it will bring honor and acclaim to you two and to our...

Mr. O'Neill - But Ms. Li, I did promise...

Ms. Li - I didn't.

(walking home from school)

Jane - Can she do that?

Daria - No, this is all a horrible dream brought on by too much penne a la pesto.

Jane - Don't we have a recourse or anything? Can we talk to Mr. O'Neill?

Daria - We could appeal to him, and he might turn the full force of his overwhelming personality to Ms. Li, and then she'd eat him.

Jane - Well, how about your mother?

Daria - How about yours?

Jane - My mother's a little preoccupied right now. She's tracking down the source of a disturbing heat variation in her kiln. But your mother is a lawyer.

Daria - A lawyer who thinks it's a really good idea to get involved in the poster contest. (sigh) The system failed us.

Jane - The system sucks. We're going to have to go outside the system.

Daria - You don't mean...

Jane - Yes.

(the next evening, in Trent's car)

Trent - You did the right thing coming to me.

Daria - Sorry we woke you up.

Trent - Don't worry about it. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

(they arrive at the school)

Trent - All right, here's the plan. I'll sit right here with my foot on the accelerator, ready to burn rubber.

Jane - Trent, pull over here and make sure you turn off the car in case you fall asleep, okay?

Trent - Alternate plan. Cool.

(in the hallway; several posters are on display along with Daria and Jane's, including Brittany's and Upchuck's entries; Daria and Jane stand in front of their poster)

Jane - All clear?

Daria - Just about.

Jane - (sees Jodie walking towards them) Wait.

Jodie - What are you guys doing here?

Daria - Observing.

Jane - Innocently.

Jodie - I can't believe what Ms. Li did to your poster. (pause) Wait a minute... what are you guys planning?

Daria - Get lost, Landon.

Jane - It's for your own good.

Daria - You've got a bright future, kid.

Jane - You don't want to be here when what's going to go down goes down.

(Jodie glances from one to the other, then turns and quickly walks away)

Daria - Let's do it.

(moments later, Daria and Jane leave in Trent's car, the tires burning rubber)

Ms. Li - What the hell?!

Mr. O'Neill - Oh, no!

(cut to a view of the poster, which now has painted over it a large circle-and-slash "NO" symbol)

(the next day, in Ms. Li's office)

(Daria and Jane are sitting in front of Ms. Li's desk; Ms. Li looks like she's about to blow a gasket)

Ms. Li - Did you really think you were going to get away with it?

Jane - Well, it would be stupid to say "yes" now.

Ms. Li - This is no joke! Vandalizing school property is a punishable offense, and the first thing we're going to do is call your parents! (picks up phone and dials)

(at the Lane house, Amanda is once again working on pottery while Trent is fast asleep, as usual; as before, neither of them hears the phone over their loud music)

Ms. Li - Oh, bother! (picks up phone and dials another number)

(at Helen's office, Helen is once again pacing and ranting while Marianne attempts to work)

Helen - Whose butt do I have to kiss around here to get my interoffice mail before nightfall?

Marianne - Helen? It's your daughter's school. The principal.

Helen - The principal? (picks up phone) Hello?

(split-screen between Helen and Ms. Li)

Ms. Li - Hello, Mrs. Morgendorffer. This is Angela Li, principal of Lawndale High.

Helen - Yes, Ms. Li. How may I help you?

Ms. Li - Mrs. Morgendorffer, I'm afraid I have some rather bad news. Your daughter, Daria, appears to have been involved in an act of vandalism.

Helen - What?!

Ms. Li - Mrs. Morgendorffer, your daughter collaborated with Jane Lane in the creation of a poster for our art contest.

Helen - Yes, I'm aware of that.

Ms. Li - We found part of the poster unacceptable, so it was altered prior to its entry. Unfortunately, someone defaced the poster while it was on display, and since your daughter and Ms. Lane objected to changing it, I must assume that they were the vandals. I'm afraid I'm going to have to take drastic action.

(as Ms. Li talks, Helen slowly begins shifting from "concerned mom" to "pit-bull lawyer")

Helen - Wait a moment. You're saying the girls were against changing the poster, but entered it into the contest anyway?

Ms. Li - It was entered for them.

Helen - I was under the impression that participation in this contest was voluntary.

Ms. Li - It was, but your daughter refused to volunteer, so in her case, I made it mandatory.

Helen - All right, Ms. Li, let me make sure I have this straight. You took my daughter's poster from her, altered its content, exhibited it against her will, and are now threatening discipline because you claim she defaced her own property, which you admit to stealing?

Ms. Li - (flustered) That's not what I said at all!

Helen - Ms. Li, are you familiar with the phrase "violation of civil liberties"?

Ms. Li - I...

Helen - And the phrase "big fat lawsuit"?

(Daria smiles as she sees Ms. Li go down in flames)

(at the pizza place)

Jane - So, the only way for us to save our work was to destroy it.

Daria - Catchy phrase.

Jane - And we got away with it. You should turn this into a short story.

Daria - That's not a bad idea. And I think I already have a title for it.

Jane - Yeah?

Daria - I'm going to call it, "Student Life at the Dawn of the New Millennium."

(they start to toast each other with their soda cups, but are interrupted by Brittany, who just arrived)

Brittany - I won! I won the art contest!

(Daria and Jane glance at Brittany, then turn back and finish their toast)

(closing credits)