The Daria fandom is an international and informal community drawn together by MTV's animated series Daria. The fandom is supported by a wide variety of media, including web sites, fan fiction, fan art and videos. However, the fandom not only interacts online in internet forums, but also gathers at informal meetings.
Despite the show’s ending in 2002, Daria fandom remains active. Many old fans have stuck around since the end, and both old and new fans still join the community occasionally. Regardless of length of time around, plenty of fanfic and fanart is being produced, albeit not at the same rate as before. However, there is enough going on to give reason that Daria fandom still has a lot of life left in it.
History of the show
The character of Daria Morgendorffer got her start on the MTV show Beavis and Butthead. Her first appearance was on March 19, 1993, in the episode “Sign Here.” In what was a sign of things to come, her first spoken line was “Anal electrocution. Fifty-thousand volts up the butt,” referring to how furriers kill the animals they need. The point of her character was to serve as a foil for Beavis and Butthead, and as one of the few people who could stand the duo.
Daria was not created by B&B creator Mike Judge, but rather Glenn Eichler, who was a story editor for B&B. As the show wound down, Eichler was approached by MTV about giving Daria her own series, with him serving as executive producer. Eichler agreed, and took fellow B&B staffer Susie Lewis with him to serve as co-executive producer.
The TV show Daria premiered on March 3, 1997 with the episode “Esteemsters". The new show was given a new setting, the mythical suburban town of Lawndale, as well as new characters, such as the rest of Daria’s family, Daria’s new best friend, Jane Lane, and the faculty and students of Lawndale High.
A total of 65 episodes of Daria were produced and aired on MTV, as well as two movies. The episodes were divided into 5 seasons of 13 episodes each. Save for the first season, which aired from March to July 1997, most new episodes were run from February to August. The first movie, Is It Fall Yet?, aired right after season four on August 27, 2000. The second movie, Is It College Yet?, served as the series finale and aired January 21, 2002.
Since the end of the series, Daria has not aired in reruns on MTV. The show was picked up in syndication by fellow Viacom network Noggin. Daria airs on Noggin, as part of the-N, the channel’s nighttime programming aimed at young teens. However, fans are not entirely pleased with the situation. The biggest point of contention is that certain episodes have been edited for content, at time cutting out entire scenes. Other episodes, meanwhile, have never aired on the-N. Adding insult to injury to some, Daria has slowly been phased out of the-N’s schedule, to the point where, as of early 2005, it aired at 4 a.m. eastern time.
Throughout the years, Daria fans have been interacting online (see Fan Communication). This is where most of the interaction takes place. However, as time went by, several fans have gotten together in real life (see Dariacons). Fans have found very interesting ways to express their devotion for the show, from art to essays (see Fan Art, Fan Essays). While some of the art and writing are plain and simple, others are outstanding and shine for their originality.
The ages of members of the community are typically higher than the average Noggin viewer. This is mostly because the majority of them have been loyal to the show since its original runs on MTV, but most importantly, due to the adult nature of the show.
Daria fandom terminology
Main article: Daria Fandom Lexicon
Daria fandom has developed certain phrases and idioms over the years. They have become a part of regular interaction among the fans in fanworks and message boards.
Fanfics, short for "Fan fiction," are stories that fans of a particular show, in this case Daria, would have liked to see portrayed on the show: stories that for some reason could not be told on the show itself. Thus, these fans wrote the stories themselves. Fanfic comes in many different styles and genres. Some follow the series closely, while others stray far from the show. Some intend to be funny, some try to be sad, some even pair up characters, and so forth. Below are descriptions of the typical genres found in Daria fanfic.
Comedy fics are, obviously, intended to be humorous. Often, the same situations are used to cause humor. One situation involves Daria exacting revenge on someone for wronging her. The revenge often manifests itself in a humorous way. Another situation often found in comedic fics occurs when someone fails spectacularly, and Daria sits back and makes snide comments. In this situation, practically any character, from Daria’s parents to Ms. Li to Kevin and Brittany, could be the one suffering from basic incompetence.
Another frequently used comedic device is to simply establish a humorous situation and study the reactions of the characters. The hope is that the way the characters react to the situation will be funny. In order to do so, authors will simply and effectively rely on how the characters act. For example, Daria will likely react by making sarcastic comments, while Kevin will likely react by doing something moronic.
Drama exists when the characters are faced with stressful situations. The story recaps the situation and shows how the characters react. One of the biggest challenges of writing drama in the Daria-verse is keeping the characters in line with their true selves, particularly those characters (i.e. Daria, Jane) who do not overtly show their emotions. The situations explored in drama can be run the gamut from relatively to minor to catastrophic.
Angst is a form of drama where the author specifically intends to put extreme emotional stress on the characters. In simple terms, the characters are knocked down, and may or may not get back up by the end of the story. Angst can be caused by just one event or a series of events that occur in the story.
Canon refers to fics that stay as close to the workings of the show as much as possible. The structure of these fics are often written in three acts, similar to the show, and the characters do not deviate from their on-screen characterization. Many early fics, written during the first few seasons, were written “on-canon.” As the series progressed and some of the characters grew out of some of their pre-set patterns from earlier seasons, these fics became less and less common. Thus, at this point, new canon fics are not being written, and those fics that are considered canon were likely written during either Season One or Season Two.
Alternative stories portray the characters in completely different situations, places, relationships and time. The story answers several key questions that will generate the storyline. Questions such as, “What if Daria had met Trent instead of Jane that first day in Lawndale?”, What if Daria and Jane had met fifteen years earlier?”, “What if Daria was more outgoing?”, or “What would Lawndale have been like if Daria had been born a boy?” These alternative universes explore the author’s endless imagination.
The crossover becomes a parody if the fic is designed to make fun of the universe being crossed-over with Daria. Daria fanfic itself has also been parodied, usually either by making fun of the clichés that populate Daria fics, or by coming up with "Scenes No Daria FanFic Should Have”.
Horror/Suspense fics are intended to cause intense excitement, feeling of abhorrence, and fear. The characters face awkward, eerie and mysterious situations in order to shock the reader. Situations portrayed in this fanfic genre may involve ghouls stalking the characters, Jesse being killed and Trent trying to get him back from the beyond, Daria being attacked by a poltergeist, aliens or even cursed characters.
Shipper fics, short for "Relationshipper,” are stories involving certain character pairings the author wishes to see. The classic Shipper fic is the Daria/Trent pairing, although there are also other popular pairings such as Jane/Jesse, Daria/Tom, Quinn/David, Ms. Barch/Mr. O'Neill, or Helen/Eric, to name a few. They describe how the characters get involved in a romantic way, situations and actions. Jane usually plays an important part in Daria/Trent fics. Most of the time, the situations seem to be trite and overused.
Anti-Shipper stories – stories written to oppose such matches – are also a popular genre.
Daria erotica stories explore the secret sex lives of the characters that supposedly were barely brushed on in the series. Some of them are very in character and gentle love stories, while others are tales of passion, lust and kink. "Lawndale After Dark" was the name of the first Daria erotica site. Currently, the remains of that site are hosted in a section of The Sh33p's Fluff's "Mistress Daria's Dungeon." (see Fan Websites)
Slash fics are similar to shipper fics, but with one big difference. While shipper fics concentrate on heterosexual relationships, slash fics deal with homosexual relationships between the characters. The term slash comes from the fact that these fics are described by the two characters it pairs together, with a slash between the names. The most common slash pairing in Daria fic is Daria/Jane. Jane/Quinn is the other common one. For the most part in Daria fandom, slash pairings are female/female in nature, likely due to the lack of developed male characters on the show. While slash can be erotic in nature, that is not necessarily the case.
While many fics are written to stand alone, others are written as part of a series of fics. Each series represents its own continuum for Daria and company. Most series either keep the characters at Lawndale High or attempt to project what happens to the characters beyond high school. The common element for nearly all of them, however, is to grow the characters beyond what the show and just one stand-alone fic can accomplish.
Serials exist to give authors a chance to get feedback on a work as it is being written. Serial fics occur when a writer posts his fic on a message board in installments. After each installment is posted, the patrons of the board can comment on the story. The author then posts the next part, and the cycle continues until the work is complete. The author then cleans up the fic, using the comments given on the board, before sending it out to the fan websites. This form of writing was popularized by The Angst Guy after the advent of the current form of the Paperpusher's Message Board in July 2003. At this point, many authors are using the serial route to write their fics.
Iron Chef challenges are considered a fun creative exercise that originally started on the old Paperpusher's Message Board circa 2002. However, the person who introduced the first Iron Chef challenge is currently unknown. A poster gives a "plot ingredient" and challenges other posters to come up with a synopsis in one sitting. The idea of calling it an Iron Chef fic was that people had to write these fics quickly. Occasionally, some people even felt inspired to write ficlets instead of mere synopses.
Daria fanfic can be found either on numerous fan sites, or the Daria section of FanFiction.net
Most of the times, fanart comes along with the fanfic. Different styles and genres can also be found in Daria fanart, such as scenes of a specific fanfic, new characters introduced in fanfics, alteregos, erotic art, or simply random situations. Some drawings stay as close to the form and expressions of the characters of the show, whereas others portray the characters rather differently, using styles such as anime or computer style; sometimes, they don't even look like themselves.
Fanart artists usually have to fight for recognition, and it has been said that Daria websites do not put emphasis on art as much as they do on fanfiction. Nowadays, Glitter Berries is considered the largest host of fanart among Daria websites. (See Fan Websites)
Essays are generally a form of expression in Daria fandom. They cover different aspects of the show, fandom, media, etc. Essays are written to explain or elaborate a point that the author feels was not developed on the show, but cannot be adequately fleshed out in a fanfic. Essays about the show question aspects such as past, present and future of the characters, personalities, relationships, citizens of Lawndale, episodes, movies and the direction the show has taken throughout the seasons, among others. Fandom essays are mostly about issues such as writing fan fiction, fan art, message boards, accusations against the Daria fan community and controversy inside the fandom.
The majority of essays that exist in the Daria community were written during the original run of the series, particularly the first two seasons. Since the show went off the air on MTV, essay writing has been severely curtailed, with output reduced to a mere trickle.
Numerous fan sites exist in Daria fandom. Their purpose is often two-fold. The first is to give background information about the show and its characters. The second is to host and store fanworks. Below is a list of selected Daria websites, some of them are now defunct.
- MTV's Daria Page: The official site of Daria from MTV. Despite the fact that it's been three years since the series ended, the site is still somewhat functional.
- The-N's Daria Page: The-N's page on Daria. Likely due to the demographic the-N covets, the site is low on actual information.
- DVDaria: This is the official website of a petition started by the Daria fan community to MTV/Viacom for the release of all Daria episodes and movies on DVD format.
- Outpost Daria: Formerly ran by Martin J. Pollard, Outpost Daria hosts the largest depository of fanfic outside of fanfiction.net, as well as an extensive Episode Guide.
- The Daria-Jane Conspiracy: Formerly ran by DrMike, the Daria-Jane Conspiracy was a site that stored fanworks using phpNuke, which allowed for ratings and comments to be given to a work on the site.
- The Irony Maiden: Run by Martin Sylvester. This British site has excellent coverage of Daria international activity, including Dariacons and Daria on TV around the world.
- Glitter Berries: Formerly ran by Kemical Reaxion, Glitter Berries is widely considered the premier site for fan art.
- The Sh33p's Fluff: Run by Thea Zara. The Sh33p's Fluff hosts individual pages for Daria fan authors and artists. Currently, it also has the largest page for Daria erotica fanfics and fanart called “Mistress Daria’s Dungeon”.
- Sick, Sad World: Run by Wraith, Sick Sad World houses fan works, along with sound and image files for most of the episodes.
- Contrarian's Corner: Run by Kara Wild, half of Contrarian's Corner is a Daria fan site, while the one half concerns other facets of Ms. Wild's life, such as writing tips and spec scrips of her own.
- The Daria Shrine: Run by Larissa & Bridget Simpson, the Daria Shrine hosts fan works, as well as containing character profiles, an episode guide (incomplete), a message board, and, most uniquely, an "If They Mated" section.
- Triste Monde Tragique: This was the biggest French site online, popular for its diversity in screencaps, pictures and videos.
- Daria en castellano: Formerly ran by Fernando Santoianni. This Argentinian site might have been the only Daria-devoted site completely in Spanish.
- The Green Sink: Run by Cincgreen, the Green Sink contains both reviews of fanfics as well as essays concerning the state of fandom. Due to the nature of the reviews and essays, this site is very controversial among the fandom.
- Daria from Wikipedia: The Daria entry on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, contains a wide but concrete source of information about the show. It covers characters, trivia, seasons, links and our fan community.
- Daria Encyclopedia: This site focuses on explaining terms, vocabulary, characters, trivia, dates, episodes, and everything related to Daria and its world. A very useful guide for Daria fans to take into account.
The primary form of communication comes from message boards, specifically the Paperpusher's Message Board (PPMB) and the Sh33p's Fluff Message Board (SFMB). These two are the biggest and most active. They are both similar in structure, although SFMB allows more liberties than PPMB.
Daria has a long history on IRC. Three chat channels specific to Daria fandom have been used throughout the years, two of which no longer exist. The first of those is #Daria on efnet; the second is #Daria+ on dalnet. The current channel is #Daria+ on sorcery.net. Instructions on how to get to the channel can be found on The Irony Maiden.
For AIM users, The Sh33p's Fluff Message Board (SFMB) has an almost constant chat going. This chat room is currently the most active among Daria Chat rooms.
Everything going on in Daria fandom each day is summarized in the Daria Fandom Blog. This includes primarily message board posts, and the release of new works. Finally, there is a Daria newsgroup, alt.tv.daria. However, it is not very active anymore.
A Dariacon is what occurs when a group of fans get together and meet in real life. Only a few people are needed to create a Dariacon. Most Dariacons last no more than a weekend, and often are only a day long.
Events at a Dariacon vary, but often there is a combination of watching and discussing the show, along with general socializing between the participants.
For more information on Dariacons, visit The Irony Maiden.