Pop-Culture | Posted by Alexa M on 08/15/2011

Why I’m Glad Daria Didn’t Lose Her Virginity

In 1997, MTV launched a new show called Daria. The show aimed to capture high school through the eyes of a teenage girl, mirroring other popular shows of the decade (My So Called Life, Buffy etc.) which also reflected hormonal, angsty teenage girls as the main protagonists.

The character Daria Morgendorffer, who the show is (obviously) named after, was a character on the popular TV show Beavis and Butthead. Why Beavis and Butthead was popular is beyond me. Every time I’ve tried to watch a segment of this show of gurgling stoners it makes me feel like I’m missing out on the ‘humour.’ Kind of like how I feel watching Two and a Half Men.

Here’s an early appearance of Daria on Beavis and Butthead:

Daria has its fair share of popular stereotypes, such as the air-head jocks and cheerleaders, greasy teenage boys and vapid self conscious sisters. But in the midst of all these stereotypes, Daria offers a cynical view of high school life with her quick-witted comments and perpetually sarcastic tone. She made the weirdness of high school seem normal and was almost heroic in her ability to make teenage outcasts feel okay. She was a heroine of the weird kids, which is why I appreciate her so much.

Throughout the show’s 5 seasons, the viewers witness Daria’s personal development. She deals with important issues like body image, how to keep your dignity and avoid contradicting your morals, and how to deal with fathers that obsess over ordering too many sausages and becoming addicted to technology. As the seasons progress, the themes that Daria faces mature as she does. Where Daria once became bright red at the sight of her best friend’s brother and his smooth guitar skills, she begins to date and worries about whether to commemorate the anniversaries in her relationship or not.

However, I feel as though the Daria I looked up to was lost within the last season. In the end of Season 4, Daria acquires a boyfriend. I didn’t find this problematic, as Tom seemed to be an extension of Daria’s personality and provided a nice back-story to many episodes. Tom’s character reflected Daria’s humour and it seemed that the pair could take over the world with sarcastic comments and a very refined taste for pizza. The relationship didn’t seem to affect Daria’s independent personality and I was glad to see her avoid becoming a whiny girlfriend like another character, Brittany.

But later in Season 5, Daria completely ignores all of her values and morals and questions her VIRGINITY. Now, why do I make such a big deal of this? Yeah, Daria is a teenager and has a boyfriend and has been with him for a while and is supposedly expected to have lost ‘it’ already to him for just that reason. And I do understand the writers’ decision to write in a story-line highlighting this expectation on teenage relationships. But the character of Daria isn’t supposed to worry about things like that, or waste time wondering what she is or isn’t “supposed” to do. She’s meant to spit and mock even the thought of fulfilling any expectations society has put on her as a teenage girl, so the fact that it was so worrisome to her just seemed wrong. This story line seems more like a plot that the stereotypical cheerleader and jock of the show (as portrayed by the characters of Kevin and Brittany) would fit, and less of a story line that Daria would be involved in herself.

After a while of self questioning, Daria decides she is not ready to conform to society’s expectation. I think this was the right choice, and one that reflected what the viewers of Daria would have done. Leave sex for shows like 90210 and let the underdogs have Daria.

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  • Kristen A @ at 3:14 pm, August 15th, 2011

    Alexa, I’m not really sure if I understand where you’re coming from and I’m hoping you can clarify your point of view. From what I understand, you’re saying that writing in a storyline where Daria weighs the pros and cons of deciding to have sex was a poor decision on the writers’ part because it’s shallow?

    Personally, I thought it was an excellent addition to a series that confronted real problems that teenagers face. Sex is another one of those dilemmas, and identifying the often difficult decision with shallowness that you associate with the jock-cheerleader stereotype seems really sex-negative to me. Deciding when (if at all) to have sex (of any kind) is a decision everybody makes, regardless of what social category they fit into. We all deserve to feel our decision is a valid one.

  • Angela G @ at 6:22 pm, August 15th, 2011

    I adore that people are still watching this show and love it as much as I always have! As someone who was very snarky, cynical, and “alternative” when I was in high school (and beyond!), I think it is great that the writers acknowledged that no matter how different you think you may be, social pressure still sneaks past tough exteriors. Whether Daria lost her virginity or not, watching her weigh her options and consult with loved ones made doing the same a little less scary.

  • Eliana B @ at 8:42 pm, August 15th, 2011

    I think you’re right about the decision on the show to not have Daria go through with it. I have to disagree with your disappointment over it being mentioned at all. Daria is tough on her beliefs, but throughout the series it has been expressed that she has normal teenage insecurities. Like the one where she gets contacts, for example. She is not immune to it to these feelings. The desire to have sex can come from a natural place or it can come from being pressured, but it is real and normal. Also the reason, as I remember it, for why she doesn’t go through with it is because she does not feel she is emotionally ready. I consider that to be a positive message.

  • logoskaieros @ at 2:14 pm, August 16th, 2011

    Looking back on the show, I think it was okay for Daria to worry like this about sex. No matter how strong-willed a person is, social pressures can creep in. Even the most uber-feminist woman, for instance, can have a moment where they worry about how they look or if they’re being too mean, or any of that other junk. It doesn’t compromise Daria’s dignity or character. It shows that no one is totally immune to the culture they’re immersed in.

  • Nat @ at 7:02 pm, August 16th, 2011

    I was just thinking about Daria! I just started high school and i discovered Daria in 8th grade and she makes fell much better for being the kind of girl that prefers books to parties where people get drunk and have sex.

  • O'Phylia @ at 11:05 pm, August 16th, 2011

    If she didn’t care, I don’t think she would have been realistic. She would just be a sarcastic Mary Sue.

  • Rachel @ at 7:22 pm, October 12th, 2013

    I think what you need to remember is that Daria was an insecure person on the inside who projected indifference on the outside. To quote Daria herself, “I actually work to make people dislike me so that I won’t feel bad when they do” (Psycho Therapy).
    It was important for the show to cover the issue of sex and virginity in teenage relationships. Season 5 showed a real growth in the character. Through her relationship with Tom she pushed a lot of the boundaries that she had put in place from her fear of abandonment (One J at a Time). In fact, getting into a relationship with Tom in the first place was a huge step for her because she’s afraid to be vulnerable, as Tom points out in Is It Fall Yet. What you see in My Night at Daria’s is that Tom doesn’t push her into anything and he is not even the one to suggest they put any truth to the rumours – we also learn that they have discussed the topic of sex before, “I backed off ’cause I though that’s what you wanted”. Teenagers in relationships, whether they’re popular or outcasts, think about sex at some point, even if it’s just to confirm that they don’t want to do it. The writer’s approached that in a very realistic and sensitive way. They examined what it meant for Tom and Daria’s relationship on an emotional level; it wasn’t so much about the act of sex itself, but more so the implications of it on their relationship. The whole concept of Daria is not that she doesn’t care about the social norm, it’s that she highlights the idiocy of some social discourses and the few that she does enters into she does so on her own terms. It would be an unrealistic portrayal if she DIDN’T worry about physical intimacy in her relationship. Hey, even Sheldon Cooper in Big Bang Theory thinks about it in some way – he acknowledges that he’s uncomfortable with physical contact – and he is more of a social anomaly that Daria ever was.
    While I agree with you that she made the right choice in not engaging in sex with Tom, there’s no way that the episode was a total write off. It is definitely my favourite, closely followed by One J at a Time, because of how it addressed the issue. In My Night at Daria’s, they highlighted the social expectation, the impact sex can have on a relationship, the fear, the frustration, contraception, and most importantly that no matter what you plan you can always say no and that’s perfectly okay. The writers approached it in a very ‘Daria’ way and I think you need to acknowledge that, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.

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