|Original Airdate||February 25th, 2000|
|Special Guest Voices|
|Written By||Glenn Eichler|
'"Partner's Complaint" was the first episode of the fourth season of the Daria TV series (episode number 401). It first aired on MTV on February 25, 2000 and was written by Glenn Eichler.
The title of this episode comes from the novel Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth.
As the episode begins, Jane has started going out with Tom, which is driving an edge between her and Daria. And, at Lawndale High, Britanny and Kevin have broken up after an exchange of comments regarding each other’s intelligence. So, when Bennett assigns a real-world project in her economic class to her students, some unfamiliar pairs are formed: Daria accepts Jodies’ proposition to work together (as the latter is unwilling to work with Brittany); Brittany asks Jane to work with her; and Mack and Kevin pair up.
Daria and Jodie brainstorm ideas for the project and eventually Jodie convinces Daria to try to get a bank loan to start a business. The first bank executive they approach is skeptic and specifically asks for Daria’s parents to be co-signers of the loan. Jodie is irked at the brush–off when she had made the pitch, and is further irritated with the executive’s sycophant attitude when he realizes who Jodie's father is. She berates him before walking out. In the second bank, Jodie changes tactics and states her family’s name right away, immediately securing a loan.
Jane and Brittany try to buy a car as their assignment. However, Wally, the car salesman, is much more interested in flirting with the blond cheerleader than making a sale, all but ignoring Jane and dismissing Brittany’s inquiries. He even stalks the two teenagers to Casa Lane, trying to pick Brittany up. Kevin and Mack also try to buy a car. Dealing with another car salesman, they hit against the seller’s fast talking and confusing explanations on why they should spend more than their budget.
At the Morgendorffer’s, as Jodie and Daria finish preparing their presentation, they lock horns when Daria denounces Jodie’s hypocritical attitude and tactics to get the bank loan. Jodie takes offense and counters that she used her resources to get the project done, "approach[ing] an adult financial situation like adults", and further pointing out they’re partners only because Daria’s fighting with Jane. Later, Helen goes to talk to Daria about the situation, reassuring her daughter on her moral standards, and assuring that Jodie, more pragmatic, will probably not take long term offense at the fight, further hinting Jane could have the same reaction.
Later, at Pizza Prince, Brittany talks to Jodie, describing Wally’s interactions, apparently unaware the salesman is trying to seduce her. When Kevin and Mack meet them, the two ex-sweethearts exchange some tense words about achieving the lowest car sale price. The QB initially basks in the knowledge that he got a cheap deal… before leaving in a panic when he realizes the sale was not supposed to be concluded.
The next day the students make their presentations in the economics class: Kevin and Mack resume their experience with the car salesman car before Kevin leaves the classroom in tears; Jodie and Daria make an ensemble presentation addressing their work for a bank loan, and Jodie is relieved when Daria makes no public mention of her opinions. After class, Jodie and Daria clear the air and apologize for their earlier fight. After that, as Daria is about to apologize to Jane, the latter makes a large speech making reference to Daria’s past jerkiness and that she forgives her.
In the final scene, in Pizza Prince, Jane and Daria recount the past days’ events before spotting Kevin and Brittany back together. The sweethearts’ idyll is interrupted by Wally, who offers Brittany Kevin’s returned car, thus causing the two to immediately start fighting again…
- The animation changes from this episode on, and the colour palette brightens (which makes Daria look like she might have lipstick).
- Was the first bank manager being racist? We can never know, just as Jodie says she can't ever know. "Maybe the first guy was a racist, maybe not. Maybe I was right. Maybe I overreacted."
- We learn here that Tom goes to a "preparatory academy" but it's not stated until "Is It College Yet?" that he's wealthy, and not a middle-class kid whose parents "make him go there" (quoth Jane). Likely this was just a way to explain why he's never seen as Lawndale High.
"Partner's Complaint" and Fandom
When it first aired, the episode was extremely controversial for having Daria & Jane still in conflict, for having Daria be in the wrong and apologise to Jodie, for Jodie 'selling out', and for Jane being too nasty when they make up. Contemporary arguments against it can be seen in essays like Cynic's Complaint (that Daria being wrong damages the show), Objectivity Free Landslide Victory (that Daria looks too sanctimonious and Jodie's forgiven for hypocrisy), and Why Did It Come To This (general hypocrisy and Daria & Jane's interactions).
The episode has since become more popular, with more fans coming around to Jodie's viewpoint - often seeing it as down to her race, where she'll need to use any resource to give her an advantage against institutional racism - and liking how Daria is challenged. It has also changed as fandom has been comfortable with seeing Daria as less of an admirable figure. In the Daria Episode Analyses, WellTemperedClavier said "“Partner’s Complaint” is one of my favorites because it makes very clear just how difficult it can sometimes be to spend time with Daria."
"Partner's Complaint" and Fanfic
This episode is referred to in The Thing That Perches in the Soul.
In the John Lane series, an alternative retelling of these events is present in the episode Partners in Pain
On “Partner's Complaint” the Episode
- “Partner's Complaint” summary at Outpost Daria (via Wayback Machine)
- “Partner's Complaint” transcript at Daria Transcripts
- Episode Analysis by WellTemperedClavier
Alternate-Universe Versions of “Partner's Complaint”
Alternate Canon Versions of “Partner's Complaint”
Jane's Addition (313)
"Partner's Complaint," Season 4 Episode 1
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