the banality of suburban life emblematic of Beavis and Butthead, but
instead she infiltrates civil society, as opposed to the pessimistic
destruction of her origins. Both shows offered audiences guilt-free
pop culture consumption with an air of elevated detachment, a
justification for going “mainstream” with a wink of self-awareness.
Daria begins with her move from one generic town to
another. Lawndale is the terrain of normalcy where her boring
corporate parents stress over work while her boring beauty queen
sister obsesses over popularity and clothes. Daria’s flat cynicism
serves as the “antagonism to the system” in order to disrupt and
refuse the smooth functioning of suburbia (Laclau and Mouffe 89).
A standard episode of Daria links the narrative of conflict between
Daria and the mainstream push of school culture by revealing how
her cynicism and intelligence counters the hegemonic forces of
popularity and stymies the school administrators. Nick Salvato
defines her cynicism as a response to this sense of disdainful
helplessness, “a melancholic, self-pitying reaction to the apparent
disintegration of political reality” (Salavto 132). The opening
theme song sequence demonstrates her resignation from school
life; an expressionless Bartleby-esque Daria moves through daily
life, present but effortless, as she barely waves at a volleyball in gym
class after it has already bounced in front of her.
Daria is in her suburban nightmare of Lawndale but not of
it. The pilot of Daria begins as the Morgendorffers family moves
to a new, but still familiar, town. The first exchange of the series
tells the audience Daria is different:
Jake: Girls, I just want you to know your mother and I
realize it's not easy moving to a whole new town --
especially for you, Daria, right?
Daria: Did we move?