Joma is a portmanteau for Jodie Landon and Mack Mackenzie as a couple. However, rather than be used by shippers, "Joma" has a history of being used by anti-shippers instead.
Rather than fandom, this was coined by MTV itself. In early versions of MTV's Daria website (c. 1997-2001), Jodie and Mack had their own webpage with the url "joma". Many images on the website would similarly be labelled "joma" - and othertimes, "Jodimack". One was not often described on the site without the other one also present.
These were the only characters this happened with - Jake & Helen and Kevin & Brittany all had separate pages. Clearly, MTV considered at least in the early days that Jodie and Mack came joined at the hip and weren't fully separate characters.
|“||Stressful interplay caused by the demands of excessive extracurricular activity. They should sign up for a 12-step program--but she only has time for two.||„|
Jodie and Mack are frequently shown together and in fact, Jodie's first ever scene was in "The Invitation" as Mack's unnamed date.
Apart from Daria and Tom, they are the only couple in the show that aren't primarily shown clashing with each other, cheating, or being in some way odd for comedic effect. In general, they're a couple that sticks together, share similar views; from their earliest appearance as a couple, they performed their own Daria-and-Jane style Greek chorus (albeit less snarky) on events at Lawndale High. Both chafe at having to play a role of the 'perfect' high-achieving black students, and sarcastically seethe in "I Loathe a Parade" about how amazing it is that they're elected Homecoming King and Queen every year by the very, very, very white town and school that certainly isn't salving its own white guilt.
After the first series of the show, at which point the writers presented Jodie as highly overworked, numerous statements were made that Jodie kept placing Mack lower in her priorities than her other responsibilities and commitments. Usually, this is presented as her simply being busy, but certain episodes and the ancillary media take this to darker places.
"The Daria Diaries" kickstarted the trope of Jodie as overworked and under parental pressure. It identifies Jodie as "Mack's steady date" ("Lawndale Girls"), but Jodie has reservations. In an editorial she writes for the school newspaper, discussing "Living Up to Your Potential", she wanders off topic and among other things expresses her frustration with having to meet the high expectations of her mother and father. "Fun is a luxury you cannot afford," she writes. "Is there any way out? ... Do you often feel like you are playing a part and hiding your true self? ... And why are you dating the captain of the football team—because you like him, or because he's who he is and you're who you are and others don't care to question the equation?"
This follows on from a deleted line from "The Misery Chick" script, where she would have said, when told she dates a football player: "Mack's cool. Besides, do you see the mothers of Lawndale lining up to introduce me to their sons? I don't think so."
In "The Daria Database", Mack makes the following New Year's resolution: "I won't let it bother me that Jodie puts student council, homework, tennis club, French club, the debate team, and just about every other damn thing ahead of me." (Jodie does not mention Mack in her own resolutions.)
"Is It Fall Yet?" gives us the longest look at the relationship and arguably the grimmest, as their plot revolves around trying to date each other at all during the summer. Once again, Jodie's many responsibilities get in the way. For the first time, the vast differences between their lifestyles and class background are made amply apparent. Jodie's parent-pleasing summer jobs include: "soup kitchen, crisis center, Congressman Sack's office, fund raising, golf lessons." Mack drives an ice-cream truck to repay money he owes his father. The dichotomy is lost on no one, not even Kevin.
A phone conversation between them devolves as follows:
- Mack: You know, I never see you anymore.
- Jodie: I know, but look at it this way. I'm wasting away the summer stuck inside all day. At least you get to drive around in your nice white suit ringing your little bells.
- Mack: Hey, you think it's funny that I have to do this?!
- Jodie: Who said it was funny? [the other line rings] I got to get this. I'll talk to you later. [hangs up]
- Mack: [hangs up] Yeah... later.
Even when they make up later in the movie, much tension between them is evident. To Jodie's remark that working in an ice-cream truck was a "piece of cake", Mack angrily responds, "Piece of cake? Working in a dirty, cramped truck all day for minimum wage? What would you know about it with your glamor jobs and your golf lessons?" The crisis is defused, but acknowledgment of the completely different worlds they inhabit is not made again.
We also learn that Mack has been working a week longer at the job he hates that he needed to, all to afford the money for a fancy Chez Pierre date with Jodie. This shows that, despite the frustration and pressure, Mack genuinely loves Jodie and wants to stay with her - though as he's been the one sticking the course and trying to do things for her, it looks like he and only he is the relationship's glue.
Mack achieves the impossible and gets Jodie's father to let her go to the college of her choice in "Is It College Yet?", though during the film it is made clear that the two of them are heading for different schools - Jodie will be going to the elites and Mack requires a scholarship to avoid Lawndale State - and will be apart for a long time. Ironically, he helped Jodie get to the school she wanted and not the one that is nearer to his. Andrew Landon even tempts Mack to drop the subject by telling him how this will be "better for you" if Jodie does what he wants. With both studying far apart, the two seem fated to eventually go their separate ways.
It is clear that the two have been physically intimate. In "My Night at Daria's", a rumor strikes Lawndale High that Daria and Tom were caught sleeping together. When Daria speaks to Jodie to find out what she's heard:
- Jodie: Hey, sex is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you're responsible.
- Daria: So, then, you and Mack have...been responsible?
- Jodie: Um...I really don't want to discuss that right now.
- Daria: I understand.
- Jodie: I promise: soon as my parents are dead, I'll tell you all about it. [walks away]
- Daria: Okay. Just so long as there's nothing to be ashamed of.
In particularly the early days, Jodie and Mack were frequently seen as a pairing and the worst they'd get is jokes about how busy Jodie was. Predominantly they came as a package deal.
After the show was off the air, the couple began to be examined with beadier eyes and the hints of tension were flagged up. In particularly, male fans began to come strongly on the side of viewing this as an iffy pairing that was Jodie's fault: the view was that it felt like Mack was, to her, just another commitment crying for attention but at the bottom of the priority list as he'd put up with it, and she isn't trying hard enough to keep the relationship going. The biggest argument in its favour is that Jodie actually wrote that she wasn't sure she even genuinely loved Mack! The term "Joma" is predominantly used by fans taking a cynical view of the pairing.
This view dovetailed with the ubiquitous "Saint Mack" fandom trope. Two resulting fanfic tropes would be "Negligent Girlfriend Jodie" and "Mack-Who-Belongs-With-Someone-Else", and the latter usually required Jodie to be at fault to keep "Saint Mack") Some fans feel it's unrealistic no other girls tried to get with Mack even when he was dating Jodie, to which you can make your own "Dye! Dye! My Darling" joke.
Arguably, these tropes were accelerated by the fact that Mack, as the only male student who isn't a thicko, a creep, or kissed his girlfriend's best friend in his car, is a perfect 'good man' character to use for non-comedy romance stories. If Jodie doesn't want him, why not Brittany/Jane/Kevin? Undermining Jodie and Mack is also akin to the growth of "Bitch Daria" as a trope; a deconstructive way of analysing the show.
Other fans have taken the view that despite its flaws, the relationship seems to suit the two now even if it seems unlikely to outside of Lawndale High, where Jodie will have more freedom. Under this reading, while it's not the most outwardly passionate of relationships, it's a comfortable situation and mutually convenient (mostly) for both people. With their many shared views and their shared situation as unwilling 'tokens' for the rest of the school, they would likely have been friends anyway. These fans point to the fact that this is a pairing where Jodie and Mack aren't repeatedly fighting, cheating on each other, or being toxic; if it was unsatisfying for Mack, he would and could have just left.
- Jodie and Mack and That Personality Thing by TAG (anti-Joma for Daria Fandom Blog)
- "Present Moment" by Crusading Saint (pro-Joma)
- "Primarily Color" by Kara Wild (pro-Joma)
- "To Slip the Surly Bonds" by Decelaraptor (pro-Joma)
- "Four Play: Mack and Jodie" by Crusading Saint (anti-Joma)