|Is It College Yet?|
|Original Airdate||January 21, 2002|
|Special Guest Voices|
|Written By||Glenn Eichler |
"Is It College Yet?" is the second Daria TV movie. The movie shows the characters of Daria Morgendorffer's class as they approach their high-school graduation and look toward college.
The movie is roughly equivalent to three "normal length" episodes. However subsequent TV airings and all DVD releases only provide the film in an edited form.
Warning: The following may contain plot or ending details.
As the senior year is drawing to an end, finalist LWH students consider their college options. Daria is torn between Raft College, her personal choice, and Bromwell, a top University. The choice is not made easier by the fact that Tom plans to attend Bromwell, per family tradition, and offers his family's influence in the application process. Jake confusedly suggests Middleton College, his and Helen’s alma matter, and Helen quietly supports Bromwell.
Other high school finalists are also sending college applications: Mack applies to Vance University, while anxiously waiting from his scholarship application. Jodie, while applying for the top college Crestmore (a prestigious university, if somewhat racially homogeneous), per her father’s wishes, secretly confides to Mack she’d rather attend Turner, a more diverse university and her father's Alma Mater, where she thinks she’d fell less pressured. Brittany and the rest of the Cheerleaders apply for the Great Prairie State University, making plans to join its cheerleading squad together. In contrast, Kevin is evasive regarding his college plans. And Jane makes only half-hearted attempts to try to get into state colleges (with bad art programs), while she daydreams of attending BFAC.
Meanwhile, Quinn is caught with a huge shopping bill which her parents refuse to pay. To earn money, she takes a hostess job at the Governors Park. Her decision is met with divided opinions by the rest of the Fashion Club, whose members are dealing with their own problems: during Stacy’s birthday celebration, as Sandi wouldn’t stop her verbal barbs, Stacy secretly wishes for her to just be quiet. When Sandi appears mute with laryngitis the next day, Stacy has a guilt attack and spends the rest of the episode trying to cure her friend.
Changes also take place in the LWH academia: Janet Barch misunderstands a comment by O'Neill, assumes he’s proposing, accepts on the spot and immediately starts making marriage plan. DeMartino, horrified, secretly meets his male colleague and coaches him in standing up to Barch, which he does, earning O’Neill a breakup and DeMartino a black eye.
Daria, Tom and Kate Sloane go on a college road trip, visiting Bromwell and Raft. The trip is profitable for Tom, who woos the Browmwell admissions officer Lisa Goldwin, but a burden to Daria, who has a blank during her Bromwell interview and is unable to get to Raft on time for her interview after the Sloanes run into their family friend Bill Woods and are delayed leaving. To her seething rage, Tom remarks on the failed Raft visit that it's a good thing they got to Bromwell on time. Back from the trip, Daria is surprised when Jane tells her she’ll not be going to college, explaining she had gotten rejection letters from the local state colleges and that hadn’t been able to finish a mandatory portfolio for BFAC. Daria later learns she’s accepted at Raft but wait-listed at Bromwell. Talking with Tom about it, they have a fight regarding colleges and the methods Tom used in his own application process. However, Daria is somewhat mollified by her mother’s sincere congratulations on Raft.
Meeting later with Jane and talking about the college acceptances, Daria makes a deal with her friend: she’ll beg a letter of recommendation from the Sloanes if Jane sends her portfolio late to BFAC. Jane accepts and later, talking to Trent, understands her brother reluctance in helping Jane with college had more to do with his fear of being alone.
Jodie and Mack also receive their college letters: Mack is accepted at Vance and gets his scholarship, but Jodie is in tears, confiding she’s been accepted both at Turner and Crestmore. Seeing her disarray, Mack secretly meets with Andrew Landon and tells him of Jodie’s acceptance and her fear of revealing it. Andrew and Michelle talk with her daughter and eventually accept her to go to her school of her choice.
In her work as hostess, Quinn quickly befriends Lindy, a college student. The two hit it off, but Quinn quickly realizes Lindy has a drinking problem. The situation escalates from innocent drinking to all-night parties, and Lindy is soon caught drinking on the job. Despite trying to shift the blame to other workers, including Quinn, the manager sees through Lindy’s excuses and fires her.
A few days later, Daria is informed that she has still not been accepted by Bromwell even with the Sloane’s recommendation letter. She definitely choses to attend Raft and later breaks the news to Tom over pizza. At the same time she chooses to break up with him, fearing they are already getting apart and bored. Later at home, feeling depressed, Daria confides her worries to Quinn, who confides back her own fears regarding Lindy’s alcoholism and comforts her sister about Tom and college. Going to Lindy’s later, Quinn confronts her about her drinking problem, but the latter refuses to listen and kicks her out.
The last day of high school arrives with some awkward encounters: Kevin finally reveals to Brittany he’s failed his senior year and he’ll have to repeat it. Britanny is supportive, but seems to be gearing up to leave him. Tom goes see Daria, seeking reassurance about him. Daria comforts him and both part in friendly terms, promising to keep in touch.
That evening, Jodie launches a graduation party at her home, having invited all classmates. Daria, dragged there by Jane, has to reveal her and Tom’s breakup. Charles hits on Andrea and (gasp!!!!) she’s receptive. The fashion club are there too and Sandi, who’s recovered her voice, tries to push Stacy into doing a long list of chores as payback for the curse. Stacy unexpectedly stands up to her and refuses, even when threatened by expulsion from the FC. Sandi is dismayed when the other girls also choose to leave the club, and can only save face by also leaving it. After an emotional crying scene, the four friends start making plans to be together during the summer.
In the final party scene, after Daria tells Jane about her recent break-up, Jane informs Daria her persistence paid off and Jane’s been accepted at BFAC. Daria is surprised and very pleased, and both friends start making plans to their future life in Boston.
Finally it’s graduation, with all finishing students and respective families in attendance. Jodie, as valedictorian, makes a perfunctory speech. Daria, to her surprise, receives the Diane Fossey Award for Dazzling Academic Achievement in the Face of Near Total Misantropy. Forced to improvise a speech, she gently lambasts high school life, though adding it’ll be better with the support of family and a good friend (and pizza), plus giving her colleagues some moral advice.
While the youngsters receive their prizes and make the speeches, Barch meets with O’Neill and reveals her very newfound attraction to his recently-grown spine. The two reconcile, while a desperate DeMartino despairs.
In the last scene, Daria and Jane meet at Pizza Prince and comment their future life in college…
As noted in a review by Slate columnist Emily Russbaum, who praised the film for being "a sharply funny exploration of social class... [homing] in on the elitism of the United States college system", the film shows the characters going off to very different paths after graduation based on their economic prospects ("unlike, say, the characters on [Beverly Hills] 90210").
- Daria and Tom are growing apart because their different income brackets, and the different views on their college paths because of it, are something Daria can't handle and Tom doesn't appear to fully grasp. One argument happens when Tom is lamenting that Bromwell passed on her and ignores (until called on it) that she did get into another college. A recurring clash is that Tom is defensive (and Daria annoyed) about his family ties to Bromwell, which gave him a great advantage he doesn't want to admit to. For example, he got a 45 minute interview (the film indicates this is an oddly long time) and is stunned to hear Daria didn't, then sounds embarrassed.Daria herself suffers a 'class cringe' from the constant Bromwell talk, despairing over the failure and the lack of prospects she will have, compared to Tom, until Helen points out that Raft is an excellent school.
- Tom and Jodie, the richest members of the cast, are the ones going to highly elite colleges (though Jodie decides against Crestmore). He's also the only character who isn't worrying about college, as he knows he's getting into Bromwell. If Jodie goes to Crestmore, she will be rubbing shoulders with future politicians and business leaders who "literally are running the country"; her father tells her this would make the rest of her life much easier.
- Andrew Landon states that he went to Turner because, as a black student in the early-to-mid 60s, he "had to" go to a 'black' college, and that this gave him less options in life than somewhere more elite could have.
- Daria is frustrated that Tom's family gives him an unfair advantage, Helen remarks that some applicants have "certain edge over the rest of us", and Jake has a brief outburst against perceived Bromwell snobbery when Daria is rejected. However, to Jane, Daria is the snob with the extra advantages: she has a family who are around and assumes she'll go to college, while Jane has no real support and clearly views college as 'not for her'. She comes up with an excuse to not apply to BFAC and she gets defensive about her decision, accusing Daria of being elitist and assuming everyone has to go to college to be successful.
- Mack's family can only afford to send him to a state university, even though it doesn't have the courses he wants. He needs a scholarship to get into Vance, his preferred college, and is worried he won't get it. The cost of college is never mentioned as an issue by the upper-middle class Morgendorffers or Landons.
- Kevin is (rightly) worried that Brittany's going to dump him because she's going to college and he isn't; suddenly, he's 'lower' down the social tentpole than she is.
(The show also shows that the cheerleaders, due to their academic record, can only get into Great Prairie State University.)
The movie has been released on DVD twice. On each release, it has a number of small cuts, predominantly trimmed dialogue. The full version was only aired on television and released on VHS. The cuts mainly have extra jokes, and aren't noticeable at all if you weren't previously aware of them.
The exceptions are:
- Sandi deliberately bringing up that Stacy can't get a date on her birthday but she could, starting off the events that will lead to her being 'cursed'
- Further dialogue at Bromwell with Professor Woods, where it's made clearer that Daria's frozen out of the conversation and Tom feels he doesn't need to think about other colleges.
- More dialogue with Lindy and Quinn, showing how drinking affects her work - and that she drives tipsy all the time.
- The revelation that the cheerleaders are all going to the same college because it's the only one that will accept their bad grades
- Ms. Li's future ego in the credits as a crazy cat woman.
More seriously, the scene with Mack and Andrew Landon greatly cuts out Andrew's blasé nature about Jodie's problems - including that he hasn't noticed them. Transcript with those bits added:
- Mack - With all due respect, sir, I don't believe that's true. She's been putting a lot of pressure on herself for a long time. I think she really needs a different kind of environment. Like Turner.
- Andrew - (brief laugh) How is she gonna go to Turner? She didn't even apply. (pause) What do you mean, acting unhappy?
- Mack - Quiet, distracted, crying. (pause) You're not going to be a grandfather.
- Andrew - Look, Michael, we all think we know what we want when we're young. If Jodie passes on Crestmore, she'll end up regretting it for the rest of her life. Besides, Crestmore is a lot closer to Vance than Turner is. Better for you, if you want to see each other.
- Mack - We won't see each other if Jodie has a breakdown and drops out of school.
- Andrew - Then it's a good thing breakdowns aren't allowed in our family. Anyway, if she really wanted to go to Turner, she'd have applied there.
An entire Tom and Daria scene is missing: they agree to meet for a date and she then abruptly decides to cancel a few seconds later. This is crucial build up for the end of their relationship. A transcript of it is:
- (Daria typing at her computer when the cordless telephone rings; she stops to answer it)
- Daria - Hello.
- Tom - Hey, Daria. Up to anything?
- Daria - Just my usual nefarious tricks, and I'm working on a short story. Or at least it was twenty pages ago.
- Tom - Want to take a break and go to the Hitchcock Festival? Rope is playing. I thought a film about bumping off your Ivy-League classmate would help us get in the spirit for next year.
- Daria - Hmm. I'll admit, a good murder movie never fails to cheer me up.
- Tom - How about we meet there? It'll save me some time if I don't have to swing by your place on the way.
- Daria - Sure.
- Tom - Great! See you inside at seven-thirty. (he turns off telephone)
- (Daria shuts off phone and resumes typing; after a couple seconds, she stops and picks up telephone, hitting a speed-dial; back to split screen with Tom as he answers on first ring)
- Tom - Hello.
- Daria - On second thought, I really shouldn't leave my protagonist all alone just after her eyeballs have burst. How about later in the week?
- Tom - Um, okay. Give me a call when you're free.
- Daria - Okay, bye. (she hangs up and split screen ends as she resumes typing)
This takes place in the last month or so of Daria's final year. However, students start applying for colleges much earlier in their final year. Logically the events from this story should be occurring in and around earlier episodes, but the characters act like everything is taking place in a shorter time.
A poster on the wall of Lindy's apartment says "Cyber Doo 2001 Film and Multimedia". This explicitly places the story during 2001 or 2002... when "I Don't", set two years before, explicitly placed itself in 1998. The events of "Sappy Anniversary", however, make less sense if set in autumn 2000!
This is the last-ever episode of Daria, bringing an end to the official canon.
Like "Is It Fall Yet?", the movie opens with a fantasy title sequence and a newly commissioned song by Splendora (about college being a pain in the ass). The sequence shows various iconic images of college life in America (and pisstakes thereof) throughout the 20th century, with the images given the appropriate "film quality" and characters wearing period costumes.
The various colleges the characters talk about being interested in have obvious parallels with real-life schools. Raft College, for example, is likely Tufts, a prestigious school on the outskirts of Boston, while Bromwell is probably Yale, given its distance from Boston and location of New Town (New Haven). Crestmore (described by Mack as "the dream of dreams") may be Harvard or a school of comparable quality in another part of the country, such as Stanford.
The state Lawndale is in has two state universities, one just called "State University" and another called Lawndale State University. (State universities are the cheaper, state-funded places in America's college system)
Some fans believe that IICY? presents state universities in an overly bad light, presenting private universities as inherently better: Mack says the state university doesn't have a business school, Jane is disparaging of their art departments, Great Prairie State is presented as rubbish. However, "State University" and Lawndale State both reject Brittany and Jane because their grades aren't up to spec, and BFAC is presumed to be based on "MassArt", a publicly-funded university (so presumably BFAC is publicly-funded as well).
In "A Tree Grows in Lawndale", Brittany said theirs was an "eternal love that would last until graduation"...
Daria says that Jane told her State and Lawndale State's art departments "couldn't even draw Spunky". This references "The Daria Diaries", where the very dodgy "Jacques Picasso Art Correspondence School" would enroll you if you could copy a picture of Spunky the dog. Jane had applied for a laugh, drawing lots of mutated Spunkies.
Quinn has seen the horror film Thinner (but doesn't know why a lose-weight curse is supposed to be scary).
Daria's graduating class includes Cindy, a character that was part of Quinn's year. Since the character was visually based on show producer Cindy Brolsma, this may be a tip of the hat by the animators.
Lawndale High has a tradition of handing out the Dian Fossey Award to students who excel academically but don't contribute much to "student life". Ms. Li either does not like giving this award out at all or simply disliked having to give an award to Daria (hence her backhanded "in the face of near-total misanthropy" comment); either way, Li says she's "forced" to give out such an award. It's not specified what forces Li to do this.
In Daria's speech at the end of this episode, we learn a little bit about her guiding philosophy, a loosely connected set of ideas that has kept her grounded, kept her Daria, in spite of her changing personality and changing circumstances.
A number of magazines, newspapers, and websites in America reviewed the film on its release, as well as the show itself. (Transcripts and links can be found on Outpost Daria, archived by the Wayback Machine) The responses were positive:
- G.J. Donnelly for TV Guide Online expressed that he was already missing the show and credited it for being an intelligent, feminist work, but said the film was a worthy sendoff. He stated the plotlines for Daria and Quinn showed them handling difficult situations maturely, and in regards to the film as a whole "this animated film approaches the teenage experience much more realistically than shows like Dawson's Creek."
- Bill Desowitz for Animation Magazine noted MTV was closing down its animation studio but Daria should do well in syndication (it did subsequently end up on Noggin / The N for several years) and interviewed Glenn Eichler over the series' finale. Glenn said the series had run as long as it could and that Daria's emotional journey had already ended; he also referred to the show as being a sitcom. Animation Magazine called it "one of TV's wittiest animated sitcoms".
- Emily Nussbaum for Slate lamented the end of the show and praised both its humour, its willingness to target the counter-culture just as much (if not worse) as the mainstream for pretentiousness and target Daria itself, and for being in "the right place at the right time" for the audience. The film itself was praised for its attention to class divisions and for showing the Lawndale students going off to completely different lives, some of them uncertain or troubled. "It's remarkable to have a TV show end on such an ambiguous, even downbeat, note."
In promotion of the film, "Daria" appeared on the CBS Early Show for an interview.
The "Future Egos"
In place of the usual Alter Ego images, the credits show tongue-in-cheek versions of the character's futures. Some of these seem plausible, while others are very silly indeed. They were created as jokes and are not meant to be the 'real' futures, though a number of fanfics - such as "Ghosts of Christmas Future" by Crusading Saint, "Could Someone Turn Down the Sun? by The Angst Guy and "The Alter-Ego Chronicles" by The Excellent S - have taken them literally.
- Mystik Spiral (bar Trent) as a church choir
- Andrea as a swimsuit model (and thinner)
- Quinn as a business executive
- Tom as an aging shut-in in a nursing home (this is a disturbingly grim ego!)
- Jodie as owner of Landon Towers Casino & Resort ("Casino & Resort" is cut off in the DVD)
- Sandi as a madam running Griffin Escorts
- Jake and Helen retired at a mountain cabin, both hooked out to a valium drip
- Mack and Kevin as the owners and mascots for the Bro & QB ice-cream company
- Lindy and Alison as a couple, raising adopted children at a farm
- Tiffany running a psychic call line (in the DVD the "1-800-555-PSYK" number is cut off)
- DeMartino as a very happy mailman
- Brittany as an actress in slasher films
- Barch running a shotgun wedding chapel
- Trent as a bald, pudgy US Senator in the year 2041, involved in a Family Opportunity Act
- O'Neill playing Peter Pan in a theatre
- Stacy as a NASCAR racer
- Ms Li as a psychotic cat lady holed up in her house (this one isn't included in the DVD version)
- Upchuck as a rich fashion designer
- Daria and Jane as the hosts for a breakfast show, Good Mornings With Daria and Jane
In the original broadcast, the songs Drive by Incubus and Time To Go by Supergrass played over the credits, which had the apt lyrics "whatever the future brings I will be there" and "thanks to everyone for everything you've done but now it's time to go" (the last being the final part). In the DVD version, a specially done, melancholy instrumental song was played over the top.
Is It College Yet? and Fanfic
Alternate Universe Versions of Is It College Yet?
In Kara Wild's Driven Wild Universe episode 22, Tomorrow Never Knows, Tom and Jane never broke up, so it is Jane, rather than Daria, who accompanies Tom and his mother on the trip to Bromwell. Jane declares that it is "[t]o support Tom, who would otherwise be stuck discussing charity fundraisers every minute he and his mother were alone. Plus, Kay Sloane hates me." The trip is, predictably, a disaster, with Jane suggesting to Professor Woods that the Freshman Sobriety Center could be set on fire "as a controlled, dramatic art piece." Ultimately, Jane and Tom do break up, deciding that they get along better as friends.
Transcript of Is It College Yet? (includes sections removed in later showings and on the commercial DVD)