Michael Jordan Mackenzie is "Mack" to everyone except Kevin Thompson, who calls him "Mack Daddy," to Mack's eternal annoyance. An African-American classmate of Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane, Mack attends school at Lawndale High with his girlfriend, Jodie Landon. He is known as the captain of the Lawndale Lions football team. A long-ago MTV Daria website noted that Mack was a running back, a position which football legend Jim Brown also played.
We know little about Mack's family, though in "The Misery Chick" he reveals his name was originally "Michael James Mackenzie, but Dad went to a Bulls playoff game when I was twelve and then he changed it." His mother is never mentioned.
Personality and Character
Mack is the only recurring male character of Daria and Jane's age at Lawndale High who acts with courage, intelligence, and integrity, and as such he enjoys their respect. Ironically, in interviews with Kara Wild, both Glenn Eichler and Anne D. Bernstein, two of the driving forces behind the show, stated that this was because Mack was never developed fully, as the show's staff never cast his voice actor to their satisfaction. (Four different voice actors did Mack's voice over five seasons.) Because Mack wasn't fully developed, he wasn't given flaws.
Subtle references are made in the series to Mack's high intelligence, though one wonders if it is high only in comparison with 95% of his fellow students, who often appear to be (generously speaking) morons. With help from the school Computer Club, he and Jodie designed the school's website, according to an extinct MTV webpage. He knows Shakespeare at least as well as Daria Morgendorffer ("Cafe Disaffecto" comments about the skull in Hamlet). An avid sports fan, he has an extensive knowledge of American football and its history, making numerous references to the same in a short written speech that appears in The Daria Diaries.
Though Mack is portrayed as being a competent football team captain and a good leader, he is not as competent at playing certain positions in the game. He is unable to successfully perform in the quarterback role when Kevin is knocked out of action by a leg injury in "A Tree Grows in Lawndale."
Mack is quite popular at Lawndale High. Aside from being the football team captain, he has been elected several times running as the Homecoming King for the school's homecoming parade, with Jodie always as the Homecoming Queen ("I Loathe a Parade"). When serving as a football game announcer, Upchuck calls him "Mad Mack" (a play on the character Mad Max of The Road Warrior), which might be his team nickname ("A Tree Grows in Lawndale"). Though Jodie says everyone at school calls him "Mack" ("Gifted"), he signs his class papers as "Michael Mackenzie" ("Murder, She Snored").
The one exception to his popular standing is Ms. Barch, the misanthropic science teacher. For reasons unknown, Janet Barch appears to have marked Mack as her favorite whipping boy. References to this decidedly ugly conflict abound: "The Lab Brat," "Gifted," "Fair Enough," and The Daria Database, in which he writes, "I will not show Ms. Barch fear, no matter what she does to me." In the same book he is later shown being made by Ms. Barch to write, "I am male, therefore I suck," repeatedly on the blackboard during study hall).
Given the sheer number and tenacity of his antagonists, Mack's level of self-control is astounding. He puts into writing a long list of his difficulties as the football team captain in The Daria Diaries. His New Year's resolutions in The Daria Database all involve attempts to control his irritation with other people: the relentlessly idiotic Kevin, the marginally less idiotic Brittany Taylor, Ms. Barch, and his too-often unavailable girlfriend Jodie. It is significant that the only time in the entire show that Mack loses his temper is in a fantasy episode, "Murder, She Snored," inside one of Daria's dreams. (In a moment of rage at being called "Mack Daddy" for the umpteenth time, he whacks Kevin over the head with a golf club.)
Jodie in "Partner's Complaint" describes him as being "bad with money," being overdrawn on his allowance since third grade. Mack finally pays his father back during Is It Fall Yet? and has enough money left from his summer job to take Jodie to Chez Pierre "once."
The only other vaguely negative aspect of his character is a tendency to be sarcastic and cynical to a Daria-ish degree when referring to the school, Ms. Li's policies, and some of his classmates and football team members. "I'm the only one on the team who can count by halves," he tells Ms. Li in "Fizz Ed." His sharp-edged sarcasm is completely missed by most of those listening to him, particularly Kevin Thompson. An example from "I Don't":
- Mack: When you hear yourself talk, does it make sense to you?
- Kevin: Sometimes.
Mack participated in the betting pool on Mr. DeMartino's upcoming roller-hockey battle in "The Big House", but so did everyone else, so gambling is not likely one of his vices, if he has any. Fanfic writers have noted that writing an "evil Mack" story is nearly impossible, as there is so little in canon on which to hook it.
Relationship with Jodie
The series generally portrays Mack's and Jodie's relationship in a positive light, though Jodie frequently places a higher priority on her own commitments than on maintaining the relationship. Mack is often disappointed when he attempts to get time together with Jodie but is rebuffed. His frustration is clear to anyone who pays attention to what he says. The implication is made in "My Night at Daria's" is that the couple is sexually active, though we don't know to what degree. Jodie promises to tell Daria all about it "once my parents are dead."
Mack is clearly and specifically portrayed as coming from a lower socioeconomic class than Jodie, though the details are not known. (Being in a lower socioeconomic class than Jodie Landon is not difficult.) In Is It College Yet?, he states that he can get into Vance University only if he gets a scholarship, which he does. In Is It Fall Yet? Mack drives an ice-cream truck for a summer job, while Jodie works at a congressman's office, takes golf lessons, etc.
Mack is in a curious position in the pantheon of Daria characters in that he seems to be without fault, or at least lacking major drawbacks as a male in a female-dominated story universe. This characterization is sometimes referred to as "Saint Mack." One extreme example of a "Saint Mack" is "The Thirteenth Man," by The Angst Guy. A less extreme instance appears in Bob Marley's "You Don't Know Mack." He became President of the United States in "Twenty Years from Today," by Michael J. Pfeffer. A common vocation for him in post-canon stories is as a heroic soldier (e.g., "Gimme Skelter," "Drive"). In science-fiction tales he is usually a superhero (Legion of Lawndale Heroes series), but once in a while not ("Outcasts from Beyond"). Even without superpowers, he is still a good guy.
Debate has arisen on a number of occasion over the issue of why Mack dates Jodie (see Joma). Is it because they are among the very few black students at Lawndale High, a situation implied several times in the series? Couldn't they find anyone else to date? This is the late 1990s in the series, after all. Worse, canon depicts their relationship as riddled with conflict and frustration.
The few true-blue 'shippers left in Daria fandom have taken pains to hook Mack up with other characters in alternate-universe or post-canon tales. Picking Mack's "best possible" girlfriend is almost a cottage industry. Among those usually chosen as his new mate are Jane Lane (a popular one), Brittany Taylor (also popular, though she did irritate him in the series), and Daria Morgendorffer (a more difficult mix).
- January 2006 interview with Glenn Eichler on DVDaria, in which the reason for Mack's lack of flaws is revealed to be because the show's creators forgot to put them in!
- January 2006 interview with Anne D. Bernstein on DVDaria, in which Mack's lack of flaws is discussed, with the same admission as above.
- Mack's character description on Outpost Daria
- Lawndale High School Web Page: Sports (archived page from the MTV Daria website, dated January 2001): Mack offers his thoughts on how football is regarded at Lawndale High, revealing a deep and startling cynical streak
- Daria Fandom Blog II entries on Mack Mackenzie
- "Mack Was a Running Back..." from the DFB2
- "The Summer of Our Discontent?" essay by Peter Guerin
- "Deconstructing Mack" discussion on PPMB
- "Mack Mackenzie: stuff for stories" idea thread on PPMB
- "About Jodie and Mack's Relationship" discussion on PPMB
- "The Tokenism That Doesn't Shake the Barley" discussion on PPMB
- "Crestmore, Turner, and Vance Colleges" discussion on PPMB
- "Why Mack/Daria Doesn't Work" discussion on PPMB
Saint Mack tales
- "Daria 3059," by Greystar (Mack as mecha pilot with cybernetic battlesuit)
- "Gimme Skelter," by TAG (1st Lt. Michael Mackenzie fights to save a zombie-overrun alternate universe)
- "Finn Morgendorffer 25: Captain, My Captain," by HolyGrail2007
- "History Lesson," by TAG (Mack's surprising ancestry is revealed)
- "Iron Chef: Mack Mackenzie Has His Day" (PPMB)
- "Legion of Lawndale Heroes 11.6: Truths Known, Spoken and Undone," by Brother Grimace (Mack gains super-powers thanks to... Janet Barch; see also LLH 11.7 and LLH 12.3)
- "My Life," by Sam Lincoln
- "Origin of the Ringbearers: Michael," by Brother Grimace (Mack as a troubled superhero Ringbearer)
- "Present Moment," by Crusading Saint
- "Project: FEISTI," by SoCalledGoodeGuy (Mack as super-soldier with cybernetic battlesuit)
- "The Thirteenth Man" by The Angst Guy (Mack as superhero)
- "Touchdown Jane," by Mike Quinn (in which Daria helps Mack, who is doing the right thing) @
- "Trophy Chasers," by Crusading Saint (a rare Mack-centric adventure)
- "Twenty Years from Today," by Michael J. Pfeffer (Mack as President)
- "The Winters of Those Gone Before," by Brother Grimace NSFW! (Mack helps Jane through a very difficult time)
- "With the Help of Her Friends," by Bob Marley (sequel to "You Don't Know Mack" in which Mack helps Daria)
- "You Don't Know Mack" by Bob Marley (Mack as a good guy with a secret life as... a good guy)
@ Author's note: "... I see him [Mack] as someone who works hard, does well, but is humble about being praised. He's like Muhammad Ali; everyone, including himself, knows he's good; without the boastfulness."
- "Unseen Phenomenon: A Mere Formality" (Mack/Jodie get married), by Wildgoose
- "It's All About Respect (Part II)" (Mack/Jodie, but Mack/Brittany hinted), by Brother Grimace
- "A Slice of Pizza" (Mack/Brittany), by Brother Grimace
- "Crusts of Pizza" (Mack/Brittany), by Brother Grimace
- Unnamed ficlet (Mack/Brittany), by Roentgen (scroll down to entry for "Tue May 23, 2006 11:24 am")
- "A Midsummer Nightmare's Daria" (Mack/Brittany), by TAG
- "Acts of Cupidity" (Mack/Daria) by Disco316 @
- "As She Remembered It in the Long Years After" (Mack/Daria), by TAG
- "Boy Fiend" (Mack/Daria briefly) by Austin Covello
- "Daria 2010: Destiny Deferred" (Mack/Daria), by Robert Nowall
- "Lead Us Not into Temptation" (Mack/Daria), by Richard Lobinske
- Falling Into College series (Mack/Jane, for a time), by Richard Lobinske (affair begins here, ends here)
- "Iron Chef: Mirror, Mirror..." (Mack/Jane), by TAG
- "Mack Daddy" (Mack/Jane), by TAG
- "A Path of Roses and Thorns" (Mack/Jane, but Mack/Daria hinted), by Brother Grimace
- "Smoking Mirror" (Mack/Jane), by TAG
- "Drive" (Mack/Jane), by TAG
- "Anything for Jane" (Mack/Jane), by TAG
- "Anger Meets Her Match" (Mack/Andrea), by TheEleventy
- "La Soiree" (Mack/Sandi), by Bacner
- "The Misery Chicks" (Mack/Sandi), by NightGoblyn
- "Visitations 3: Like Sandi Through the Hourglass" (Mack/Stacy hinted), by Brother Grimace
- "Ghosts of Christmas Future" (Mack/Quinn), by Crusading Saint
- "The Hollow Land," (many potential pairings), by Crusading Saint
@ Quinn's comment to Daria (from story): "Mack was the biggest free agent on the dating market. Even Sandi didn't think she had a chance, and she always thinks she does. Even getting a date with him reflects well on the Morgendorffer name."