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Daria - Episode-by-Episode Analysis

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I Don't

"I Don't" is another one of those scattershot episodes. The one it resembles most is "The Invitation". Once more, Daria's put into an unwanted social situation, allowing for plenty of awkwardness.

There's not really much of a theme to this episode but it is important for introducing us to the dynamic of the Barksdale family. "I Don't" anticipates Season 5's "Aunt Nauseum" and covers some of the same subjects, though from a much more distant perspective. There are no real stakes to the feud between Rita and Helen. At this point, viewers comfortably saw Quinn as an antagonist, so there was nothing alarming about the prospect of her and Daria carrying their quarrels into adulthood.

Aunt Amy makes her first appearance in "I Don't". She's gotten a lot of fan attention despite being a relatively minor character that only shows up three times in the entire series. A lot of this comes from her seeming similarity to Daria: both are sarcastic introverts who don't particularly care what others think. The connection is furthered in the descriptions of Amy's childhood, which, while scant, suggest she was much like Daria.

At this point in the show, Amy is believable as someone Daria would see as a role model. She has the independence and confidence that Daria wants. Daria's lack of the same is emphasized in her disastrous bridesmaid's dress. Amy, on the other hand, wears what she pleases.

I'll admit that I've never had particularly strong feelings for Amy one way or another. She's a fun character, but she doesn't appear often enough for her presence to mean much.

The satirical aspects of "I Don't" focus on weddings. What we see in the episode actually looks pretty tame in our era of Bridezillas and excessively lavish ceremonies. It's a case of real life outpacing satire.

Aside from the weddings, there are also a few jokes that mark this firmly as a product of its time. Jane's comment about hijacking a plane and taking it to Libya is still absurd but harder to joke about nowadays. Also, Amy's remark about weapons in schools was meant to comment on the popular perception of gang violence in inner city public schools, but reads differently after Columbine.

Notes:

  • Do high schools have bridal expos? Lawndale High having one always seemed really weird to me. Maybe it's a regional thing?
  • "I Don't" marks the one and only appearance of Luhrman, sometimes touted as a romantic match to Daria. His personality fits but I'm glad he never shows up again: his voice drives me up the wall.
  • Garrett is one of Quinn's more admirable suitors.
  • Daria entertains herself by telling absurd lies to the bridesmaids but seems genuinely surprised when this alienates them. It's a bit like the "dishing out the dirt" scene back in "The Invitation", where Daria's eccentricity makes things worse for her.
  • Quinn shows some good thinking in the way she puts the wine back on the waiter's tray. Another early sign that she's quite smart and has a lot of self-control.