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Daria - Episode-by-Episode Analysis

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Sappy Anniversary

“Sappy Anniversary” is the first episode where the now official Daria/Tom relationship gets the limelight. It’s not an unrealistic portrayal of adolescent dating, given the characters involved. Daria has zero experience with this sort of thing, so it’s not surprising that she’s unsure what to actually expect from this relationship.

People who are new at dating tend to be heavily influenced by their peers simply because they don’t know themselves well enough to understand what they actually want. As such, it makes a certain degree of sense that Daria might buy into some of Quinn’s expectations, even if she doesn’t seem that enthused about them.

In fairness to Tom, a six-month anniversary is kind of an odd thing to expect. A year I could understand, or even the first month… but six months? Tom’s rather clueless about what Daria wants, which is again not that surprising given who he is (while I won’t rule out the possibility that he was a player slumming at the Zon when he met Jane, neither am I convinced he was one).

What’s really striking is how devoid of chemistry they both are. Say what you will about Daria and Tom, but they did have real chemistry in Season 4, in “I Loathe A Parade” and “Fire!”. Here, they’re just hanging out. Daria evinces very little interest in Tom even while she worries that he takes her for granted. And Tom does seem like he’s taking her for granted.

Though probably unintentional on the writers’ part, I’d argue that this is believable. Someone like Daria would never be able to forgive herself for what she did to get Tom. Dating him simply comes with too much emotional baggage.

But, as we’ve seen, it’s easy for Daria to slip into a rut so long as she’s comfortable enough. And Tom is nothing if not comfortable. He doesn’t seem to challenge her the way Jane sometimes did. Instead, he invites her into another acerbic cocoon where they can snark at the world around them while staying uninvolved.

Which isn’t to let Tom off the hook. I don’t think he’s bothered about betraying Jane. He’s already moved on. Like Daria, he’s comfortable in the relationship. But Daria’s brief fantasy about Tom viewing her as furniture is actually a pretty apt way for how they feel about each other.

The difference between the two is that Daria is disturbed by what happened. She may want Tom to pay more attention to her, but the way she caves in so easily at the end tells me she doesn’t care that much. At any rate, this doesn’t seem to significantly change the tone of their relationship. There might be some sunk-cost fallacy at work here; Daria’s gone through so much to get Tom that she doesn’t want to give him up.

So she coasts. Tom’s comfortable for her. Jane says she’s okay with them dating. No reason to rock the boat.

Except Daria isn’t happy. Which I think explains much of her behavior toward Tom in Season 5. This relationship is not what she wants, but she can’t yet bring herself to realize it.

The B plot in “Sappy Anniversary” is the funnier of the two. The rise of the Internet in the ‘90s saw countless startups trying to capitalize on the platform, only to result in the Dot Com Crash at the end of the decade. The problem was that these companies were pretty much all hype, not actually providing the services that investors (and clients) expected.

BuzzDome.com is a picture-perfect satire of the tech industry in the ‘90s. More compellingly, it’s relevant today. I was struck by how many buzzwords and attitudes seen in this episode are still being used. Noah pretends to offer a fun workplace while demanding exorbitant hours from employees. He puts on a friendly face but displays contempt toward those not in the know. He even drinks kombucha, which I had no idea was popular back then.

He wouldn’t look out of place in modern Silicon Valley.

Jake undergoes a series of humiliations in BuzzDome.com, but I think that the episode actually builds him up in some ways. He does try to fit in despite no one really helping him. He made a genuine attempt. He’s certainly a better person than Noah.

Notes:

  • Quinn has a remarkable memory.
  • I think Jane should go with “Pottery Blam”.
  • Nice to see Quinn standing up for Daria.
  • Looks like Jake might’ve gotten an A/S/L or two in some chatroom. Endearingly, he doesn’t understand the intent.
  • Jake’s fondness for The Lord of the Rings, combined with how engaged he gets with the computer stuff, are just more reasons I’m convinced he’d have eventually gotten heavily into World of Warcraft.