On Comedy, Drama and Emotional Involvement
On Comedy, Drama, and Emotional Involvement, also titled Vivisection of a Dying Show, was a Daniel Suni essay from 2000.
As the title implies, it took an extremely negative view of the show's third and fourth seasons. This was not the only such take on those years - see also Brian Taylor's "Why Did It Come To This", Caira's "Has It Fallen Yet?", and Kara Wild discussing reactions to S4 in "It Happened to Jane". However, Suni's essay is far more aggressive and far more lengthy.
The argument is that Daria is meant to be a show about a sarcastic heroine that uses her wit on people who deserve it, and that the emotional connection viewers have is based on that; however, since "Through a Lens Darkly" and especially in S4, the show has been having Daria 'sell out' and her views & values are proven 'wrong' in its attempts to have her "open up" for drama plots. Suni argues that the show is fatally damaged if Daria is not right, as this means her cutting wit is no longer on people who deserve it and we're watching the bad guy.
To explain this, he does a prose rewrite of a scene from "The Invitation" from Quinn's POV to argue that if we did see it from her POV, the previously funny lines from Daria are now her being unpleasant to her sister. He also says a scene from "Jane's Addition" was funny in a teaser but in the context, it's Daria being nasty to her best friend's boyfriend, which he is unable to find funny.
On Comedy, Drama, and Emotional Involvement Cynic's Complaint at Outpost Daria Reborn