(opening theme song)
(Jake is driving his daughters to school; Quinn is riding shotgun, Daria is in the back seat)
Jake - Girls, I just want you to know your mother and I realize it's not easy moving to a whole new town -- especially for you, Daria, right?
Daria - Did we move?
Jake - (laughs) I'm just saying you don't make friends as easily as... uh, some people.
(Quinn turns radio up)
Daria - Quinn, for instance?
Jake - That's not what I meant... necessarily. (turns radio off) The point is, the first day at a new school is bound to be difficult...
(Daria turns radio on and cranks the volume)
Daria - (shouts) Speak up, Dad! Can't hear you!
Jake - Uh, where was I? (turns off radio) Oh, yeah...
(car arrives at school)
Jake - Don't get upset if it takes the other kids a little while to warm up to you.
(Quinn exits the car, and is immediately noticed by the other students)
Stacy - Hi! You're cool. What's your name?
Quinn - Quinn Morgendorffer.
Sandi - Cool name.
Boy - Will you go out with me?
Daria - I'll try to help her through this difficult period of adjustment. (exits car)
Jake - That's my girl! Wait a minute...
Daria - See you, Dad.
(Daria walks through the crowd; the students are oblivious to her presence)
(in school hallway; Ms. Li, the principal, is giving the new students a tour of the school)
Ms. Li - As you can see, our Lawndale High students take great pride in their school. That's why you'll each be taking a small psychological exam to spot any little clouds on the horizon as you sail the student seas of Lawndale High.
Daria - S.O.S., girl overboard.
(the girl standing next to Daria frowns and moves away from her)
Quinn - Nobody told me about any test!
Daria - Don't worry. It's a psychological test. You're automatically exempt.
Quinn - Oh. All right.
(in Mrs. Manson's office; Daria, Jane, and Mrs. Manson are seated at a table)
Mrs. Manson - Now, Quinn... what do you see here? (holds up a photo)
Quinn - It's a picture of two people talking.
Mrs. Manson - That's right. Can you make up a little story about what it is they're discussing?
Quinn - I'm not even supposed to be taking this test. I'm exempt.
Mrs. Manson - You won't be graded.
Quinn - Oh. Okay, then. Let's see... they've been going out for awhile, and he's upset because other people keep asking her out, and she saying she can't help it if she's attractive and popular, and besides, nobody ever said they were going steady, and if he does want to go steady he's got to do a lot better than movie, burger, back seat, movie, burger, back seat, because there are plenty of guys with bigger back seats waiting to take her someplace nice!
Mrs. Manson - Very good, Quinn! Now, Dora, let's see if you can make up a story as vivid as your sister's.
Daria - It's Daria.
Mrs. Manson - I'm sorry... Daria. What do you see in the picture, Dara?
Daria - Um... a herd of beautiful wild ponies running free across the plains.
Mrs. Manson - Uh, there aren't any ponies. It's two people.
Daria - Last time I took one of these tests, they told me they were clouds. They said they could be whatever I wanted.
Mrs. Manson - That's a different test, dear. In this test, they're people, and you tell me what they're discussing.
Daria - Oh... I see. All right, then. It's a guy and a girl and they're discussing... a herd of beautiful wild ponies running free across the plains.
(Mrs. Manson scowls and slowly lowers the photo as Daria smirks)
(in Mr. DeMartino's class)
Mr. DeMartino - Class, we have a new student joining us today. Please welcome Daria Morgendorffer. Daria, raise your hand, please.
(Daria raises hand)
Mr. DeMartino - Well, Daria! As long as you have your hand raised... (chuckles evilly) Last week we began a unit on westward expansion. Perhaps you feel it's unfair to be asked a question on your first day of class.
Daria - Excuse me?
Mr. DeMartino - Daria, can you concisely and unemotionally sum up for us the doctrine of Mainfest Destiny?
Daria - Mainfest Destiny was a slogan popular in the 1840s. It was used by people who claimed it was God's will for the U.S. to expand all the way to the Pacific Ocean. These people did not include many Mexicans.
Mr. DeMartino - Very good, Daria. Almost... suspiciously good. All right, class. Who can tell me which war Mainfest Destiny was used to justify? (spots a boy in a football uniform, who's seated next to a blonde cheerleader) Kevin! How about you?
Kevin - The Vietnam War?
Mr. DeMartino - That came a little later, Kevin... a hundred years later. A lot of good men died in that conflict, Kevin. I believe we owe it to them to at least get the century right!
Kevin - Uh... Operation Watergate?
Mr. DeMartino - Son, promise me you'll come back and see me some day when you've got the Heisman trophy and a chain of auto dealerships, and I'm saving up for a second pair of pants! Will you promise me that, Kevin?
Kevin - Sure!
Brittany - Can I come, too? I mean, if Kevin and I are still together.
Kevin - We will be, babe. We will be.
Mr. DeMartino - (talks as if speaking to a small child) Ahh... Brittany. Can you guess which war we fought against the Mexicans over Mainfest Destiny?
Brittany - Mmm... no.
Mr. DeMartino - (losing patience) Please try, Brittany.
Brittany - Uh... the Viet Cong war?
(Mr. DeMartino is now barely restraining his temper)
Mr. DeMartino - Either someone gives me the answer, or I give you all double homework and a quiz tomorrow. I want a volunteer with the answer. Now!
(Daria sighs and raises her hand)
Mr. DeMartino - Daria, stop showing off!
(Daria slowly lowers her hand, a look of misery on her face)
(at Daria's house; the family is eating dinner)
Quinn - Then they asked me to join the pep squad. They said I didn't have to try out, but I said, "Look, I'm new here. Give me a chance to get used to things." So, for now, I'm vice president of the Fashion Club, and that's it.
Jake - Sounds like a well-thought out decision, honey.
Helen - As long as you can join pep squad later -- if you want. Never know how much we can handle till we try, though.
Jake - What about you, Daria? How was your first day?
Daria - Well, my history teacher hates me because I know all the answers, but there are some interesting idiots in my class.
Jake - That's great!
Helen - Jake!
Jake - I mean...
Helen - Daria, your father's trying to tell you not to judge people until you know them. You're in a brand-new school in a brand-new town. You don't want it to be Highland all over again.
Daria - Not much chance of that happening... unless there's uranium in the drinking water here, too.
Helen - I'm talking about you making a friend or two. Don't be so critical. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
Daria - It all boils down to trust.
Helen - Exactly. It all boils down to trust. Show a little trust.
Daria - Mom... Dad... you're right. Can I borrow either car?
Helen and Jake - No.
(phone rings; Helen gets up to answer it)
Quinn - God, I hope that's not the booster society again.
Helen - (answers phone) Hello? (beat) Yes. (beat) Uh, yes, she's my daughter. (beat) I see. Listen, will this require any parent-teacher conferences or anything, and if so, is this the sort of thing my assistant can handle? (beat) Okay, great. Bye! (hangs up) You girls took a psychological test at school today?
Quinn - They said we wouldn't be graded!
Helen - Daria, they want you to take a special class for a few weeks, then they'll test you again.
Quinn - You flunked the test?!
Helen - She didn't flunk anything. It seems she has low self-esteem.
Jake - What?! That really stinks, Daria!
Helen - Easy, Jake. Focus. (to Daria) We tell you over and over again that you're wonderful and you just... don't... get it! (slams fists on table) What's wrong with you?!
Quinn - Is she going to have, like, a breakdown or something? 'Cause that could really mess me up with my new friends.
Daria - Don't worry. I don't have low self-esteem. It's a mistake.
Jake - I'll say!
Daria - I have low esteem for everyone else.
(in self-esteem class; Mr. O'Neill is at the front desk, with about a half-dozen students scattered throughout the room)
Mr. O'Neill - Esteem... a teen. They don't really rhyme, do they? The sounds don't quite mesh. And that, in fact, is often the case when it comes to a teen and esteem. The two just don't seem to go together. But we are here to begin realizing your actuality...
(Daria, who had been taking notes, stops and frowns in confusion, then raises her hand)
Mr. O'Neill - ...and when we do, each and every one of you will be able to stand proudly and proclaim, "I am." Now, before we...
Daria - Excuse me. I have a question.
Mr. O'Neill - Sorry, question and answer time is later.
Daria - I want to know what "realizing your actuality" means.
Mr. O'Neill - It means... look, just let me get through this part, okay? Then there'll be a video! (to entire class) Before we unlock your potential...
(a black-haired girl, clothed in black with a red jacket, leans forward to speak to Daria)
Jane - He doesn't know what it means. He's got the speech memorized. Just enjoy the nice man's soothing voice.
Daria - How am I supposed to follow him if I don't know what he's talking about?
Jane - I can fill you in later. I've taken this course six times.
Jane - So, then, after the role-playing, next class they put the girls and the guys in separate rooms and a female counselor talks to us about body image.
Daria - What do they talk to the boys about?
Jane - A classroom full of guys and a male teacher?
(both girls stop walking)
Daria and Jane - Nocturnal emissions.
(they resume walking)
Daria - I don't get it, Jane. You've got the entire course memorized. How come you can't pass the test to get out?
Jane - I could pass the test, but I like having low self-esteem. It makes me feel special.
(at Daria's house; Daria walks in the front door, and is surprised to see Helen standing in the living room)
Helen - Hi, honey.
Daria - Mom? You feeling all right? It's not even 5:00 yet.
Helen - I'm taking the rest of the day off to work with you on your self-esteem.
Daria - ("uh-oh") Mom, I'm in the care of experts. Any meddling by an amateur could be dangerous.
Helen - I don't pretend I'm going to cure you, but if a lack of mother-daughter bonding is part of your problem, we're going to remedy that right now. We're going out to do something you want to do.
(at Cashman's department store)
(Helen emerges from a dressing room, wearing a blue version of her red "power suit")
Helen - What do you think of this one?
Daria - It stands proudly and proclaims "I am."
Helen - Really?
(Daria and Jane are walking down the hall; they pass Quinn and some boy talking by the lockers)
Boy - So... like, what do you like to do after school?
Quinn - Oh, nothing special. Go to the movies... or, like, a theme park... or out for a really fancy meal now and then... or maybe go to a concert, if, like, I know somebody's got good seats and is renting a limo and stuff.
Jane - You hear that? He hasn't got a prayer.
Daria - Tell me about it. That's my sister.
Jane - Oh. Bummer.
Boy - So, you've got any brothers or sisters?
Quinn - I'm an only child.
(Daria gets a sour look on her face)
(in self-esteem class)
(Mr. O'Neill is up front, as usual; Daria and Jane are passing a drawing back and forth)
Mr. O'Neill - So, what are we talking about when we talk about ourselves? Anyone? (points to a boy) Yes.
Boy - We're... talking about us!
Mr. O'Neill - Excellent! When we talk about "ourselves" we're talking about "us." Now, guys, I've got a little challenge for you. Today we talked about turning your daydreams into reality. Tonight, I want each one of you to go home and do just that. What do you say? Um... you. (points to Daria) What's a daydream that you'd like to see come true?
Daria - Well, I guess I'd like my whole family to do something together.
Mr. O'Neill - Excellent!
Daria - Something that'll really make them suffer.
Mr. O'Neill - Uh... it's healthy to air these feelings... I think. (bell rings) We'll talk more about this tomorrow. Class dismissed.
(students file out the door)
Jane - Nice one.
Daria - Thanks.
(Mr. O'Neill picks up the discarded drawing, and becomes concerned: it's a drawing of an ice cream cone with his face on it, being attacked by a rabid wolf)
(at Daria's house; the family is eating dinner)
Jake - How's the old self-esteem coming, kiddo?
Daria - My self-esteem teacher says that being addressed all my life with childish epithets like "kiddo" is probably a key source of my problem.
Jake - (distressed) Really?
Daria - No.
Jake - (laughs) Isn't she great? She's the greatest.
Helen - She sure is. But what does your self-esteem teacher say?
Daria - He says I should think back to circumstances that brought me happiness as a child and replicate them... but I suppose Quinn's here to stay.
Quinn - What's that supposed to mean?
Daria - You ought to know. You're the only child.
Quinn - How would you like to have a sister with a... a "thing"!
Helen - Come on, Daria, finish what you were saying.
Daria - I thought, why don't we go to Pizza Forest for dinner like we did when we were kids?
(Helen, Jake, and Quinn begin to freak out)
Quinn - The place with the singers?!
Daria - Boy, do I miss those songs.
(at Pizza Forest)
(the Morgendorffers are seated at a booth; Helen and Jake are slightly nauseated, Quinn is mightily pissed off, and Daria is enjoying every minute of their torture as the animal singers implore them to join in)
Daria - (sings) Row, row, row your boat. (smirks)
(at Jane's house)
(Daria and Jane are in Jane's room; the TV is muted as the stereo plays on)
Daria - Show's on.
(Jane clicks the music off and un-mutes the TV)
SSW Announcer - And now, back to Sick, Sad World.
(the SSW logo is replaced by the image of a woman and a very elderly man, each seated in high-backed leather chairs in a fancy-looking study)
SSW Reporter - This is just astounding! Here you are, blind, deaf, and barely able to walk, yet you conducted simultaneous affairs with three members of the Royal Family! The question on all of America's mind is: how did you do it?
Old Man - (leans forward) What?
Jane - She doesn't get it. It's the Royal Family. You'd have to be blind.
Daria - Good point.
(the TV image now shifts to an overview of a cheesy-looking U.F.O. convention)
SSW Reporter - U.F.O. conventions, once sneered at as the domain of so-called "kooks," have become big, big business, drawing hundreds of thousands of people each year, people as sane and rational as you and I, who come simply to satisfy a normal curiosity.
(a nerdy-looking kid with a big nose steps into view)
Artie - Hi! I'm Artie.
SSW Reporter - Artie, hello. Tell me, what brought you here, Artie.
Artie - It was a cone-shaped craft about 15 feet long, with an air speed of, oh, I'd estimate mach 12. They kidnapped and stripped me, examined me briefly, returned my clothes, and dropped me here.
SSW Reporter - (skeptical) I... see.
Artie - They pressed my pants. Did a nice job.
Daria - You know all the answers to the questions on the release test, right?
Jane - I've got them in my notebook.
Daria - Well, why don't we just take the test tomorrow and get out of the class once and for all?
Jane - How would I spend my afternoons?
Daria - U.F.O. conventions.
Jane - Now you're talking.
(in self-esteem class)
(Mr. O'Neill is once again holding court to his captive audience)
Mr. O'Neill - And so, for tomorrow, I want you to make a list of ten ways the world would be a sadder place if you weren't in it.
Boy - Oh, Mr. O'Neill, Mr. O'Neill?!
Mr. O'Neill - Yes, um... you.
Boy - Is that if we'd never been born, or if we died suddenly and unexpectedly?
Mr. O'Neill - Never been born. (bell rings) See you all tomorrow! (to Daria and Jane, who have stayed behind) Hi! Did you need clarification on something we covered today?
Daria - We feel really good about ourselves.
Jane - We want to take the graduation test.
Mr. O'Neill - Well! I'm glad your self-image meter is on the uptick! But there's still three more weeks of class left.
Daria - This first week has been a real eye-opener. It must be the way you teach.
Mr. O'Neill - (flattered) Oh, well... thank you very much. (to Jane) You know, you look familiar somehow...
Daria - So can we take the test?
Mr. O'Neill - Well, it's not the way we usually do it, but... I guess so. (grabs test) Okay, question one: "Self-esteem is important because..."
Daria - It's a quality that will stand us in good stead the rest of our lives.
Mr. O'Neill - Very good. Now, "The next time I start to feel bad about myself..."
Jane - Stand before the mirror, look myself in the eye and say, "You are special. No one else is like you."
Mr. O'Neill - You two really have been paying attention! Okay, "There's no such thing..."
Jane - As the right weight.
Daria - Or the right height.
Jane - There's only what's right for me.
Daria - Because me is who I am.
Mr. O'Neill - I don't think we have to go any farther. I am really pleased! I think the whole school needs to hear about this at assembly!
(the girls' faces fall as they realize their plan has backfired in a big way)
(in the school auditorium)
(Ms. Li is at the podium; Coach Gibson, Mrs. Manson, and Mr. O'Neill are seated behind her, with Daria and Jane seated at the far end)
Ms. Li - And once again, the bake sale was a tremendous success. We raised more than $400, which was subsequently stolen from the office, but I am confident we will get that money back. In a related note, the school nurse will be visiting homerooms tomorrow to collect DNA samples. Now, Mr. O'Neill has exciting news about our after-school self-esteem class.
(Mr. O'Neill stands and approaches the podium, to meager applause)
Daria - This is really going to help me gradually ease into student life.
Jane - Usually when I have this dream I'm wearing pink taffeta.
Mr. O'Neill - Thank you. You know, self-esteem is a little like your car's brake fluid. You may not even know you're low on it until, one day, you go to shift gears and nothing happens.
Kid - (yells) That's transmission fluid!
(tittering and catcalls from audience)
Mr. O'Neill - That's... what I said. Anyway, I'd like you to meet two students who have completed our self-esteem course faster than anyone ever before! Please join me in congratulations as I present these certificates of self-esteem to... Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane.
Jane - Oh, what the hell. (steps up to podium)
(meager applause dies)
Jane - I just want to say how proud I am today. Knowing that I have self-esteem gives me even more self-esteem. (smirks and glances at Daria, then turns on the histrionics) On the other hand, having all of you know that I had low self-esteem makes me feel... kind of bad... like a big failure or something.
(audience begins chuckling at Jane's behavior as Daria looks on, approvingly)
Jane - I, uh, I want to go home. (lets out an exaggerated sob, complete with arm to forehead, and runs off the stage)
(audience laughs as Mr. O'Neill runs after her)
Mr. O'Neill - Daria, wait!
Daria - (steps up to podium) No one can battle a terrible problem like low self-esteem on their own. It takes good coaching...
(in the audience, Quinn is seated between two boys, looking bored and a little uneasy)
Guy - Who cares about these losers?
Corey - Hey, beats algebra, though, doesn't it? (chortles and high-fives his buddy) Did you hear what I said, Quinn? I said, like, who cares how bad this is -- it's still better than algebra!
Guy - That's good, Corey. (cackles)
Quinn - Funny. That's funny, Corey.
Daria - ...realize my actuality. Winning the fight against low self-esteem takes support... from teachers, from friends, and most of all, from family.
Corey - Is that loser still talking? (cackles and high-fives his buddy again)
Daria - And so, the one person I'd like to thank more than any other is my very own sister, Quinn Morgendorffer. (audience gasps; Quinn's jaw drops to the floor) My sister Quinn has forgotten more about self-esteem than I'll ever know. Are you out there, sis? Stand up and let me thank you.
(Quinn cringes and tries to hide as her friends turn to gape at her)
Corey - That, like, brain is your sister?!
Kid - Are you a brain, too?
(at Daria's house)
(the family is at the kitchen table; Quinn is having a royal fit)
Quinn - So then, she gets up in front of the whole school and makes a big deal about thanking me!
Helen - That's really sweet, Daria.
Jake - Good for you, honey!
Quinn - Ooooh! (slams fists on table) I'll have to lock myself in my room until I die! I'll never talk to anyone for the rest of my life! (phone rings) That's for me. (picks up phone) Hello? Matthew?! (walks out of kitchen)
Jake - What was she upset about, exactly?
Daria - She felt I should have thanked you and Mom as well.
Helen - No, we should thank you for being such a great kid. Graduating from self-esteem school three weeks early is quite an achievement.
Daria - Maybe we should all go out and celebrate.
Helen - Oh, I'd love to, Daria, but... (holds up her day planner)
Jake - Yeah. Take a rain check, though.
Daria - I don't know. My self-esteem feels like it's starting to slip.
(Helen and Jake gasp)
(at U.F.O. convention)
(the Morgendorffers are in attendance; once again, Helen and Jake look uneasy, while Quinn would rather be anywhere else, and Daria is basking in their humiliation)
Daria - Let's go get our picture taken with the cardboard alien.
Jake - Uh... sure, honey. Whatever you want. (Daria, Jake, and Helen walk off-screen)
Helen (O.S.) - Quinn?
Quinn - I'll wait here... or in the ladies' room.. or maybe out in the parking lot.
Jake (O.S.) - Okay. We'll be right back.
(a familiar-looking boy walks up to Quinn)
Artie - Hi! I'm Artie. You're cool.
Quinn - (shivers) Mom! Dad! You guys, wait up! (runs after her family)