|July 7, 1997
|Special Guest Voices
|Anne D. Bernstein
“Road Worrier” was the eleventh episode of the first season of Daria. It first aired on MTV on July 7, 1997. The episode is often incorrectly referred to as "The Road Worrier," because of the title of the film from which the episode title was derived.
"Road Worrier" was written by Anne D. Bernstein.
The story begins as Daria is at the Lane's, watching Jane built a sculpture with her new glue gun, the Stickmata 5000. They are interrupted by a very loud accord that destroys the sculpture and Jane uses the opportunity to drag Daria to the basement, presenting her to Mystik Spiral, Trent's band. Upon meeting him, Daria is suddenly mute, muttering only a 'Hi' and failing to provide sarcastic answers to his questions. Trent invites the girls to join him and Jesse in a trip to musical festival Alternapalooza.
More teenagers in Lawndale are going to the music festival: The Fashion Club are shopping in preparation, and Quinn even gets a fake tattoo. She is nervous when Daria tells her she's also going, but quiets down when Daria notes they won't have much contact in the crowd, and even offers her sister some fashion advice. Jakes tells them of his experiences in Altamont and provides some money and advice.
Daria and Jane are picked in the Tank, Max Tyler's old van. This has little comfort for passengers, with the girls having to seat on a big flightcase in the rear and having no seat belts. The trip is a burden to Daria, as holes in the road cause her to fall and break her glasses, a bee stings her and she later finds she'd been sitting on an old sandwich. To top it all, she has to endure Jane's non-stop teasing.
All groups stop in a roadside diner, where they are greeted and served by a smart mouthed waitress. While there, Jodie, Brittany, Kevin and Mack discuss the spartan conditions of Alternapalooza concert.
Later during the trip, after some heavy traffic and Daria having had to relieve herself between the roadside trees, the Tank suffers a malfunction and the foursome is left stranded. Jane enlists Jess to go look for help after a nearby field, an obvious plan to leave Daria and Trent together. These two share some bonding moments while talking about life. Daria tells Trent he is brave to go after his dream and that he is doing what he wants. Trent is grateful and compliments Daria.
Jane and Jesse return later, having discovered no help, and Jane eventually uses her glue gun to fix the Tank's engine. However, by this time the concert is over. On the way back, Jess and Jane sleep on the back of the van while Trent and Daria share the front seat, both enjoying the silence and company.
Meanwhile, The Fashion Club has a sudden change of plans when they see and roadside add for outlet shopping, with Kevin's jeep following them when Brittany correctly interprets Stacy's signal. They end up not going to the concert either.
When the Morgendorffer sisters arrive home, the next morning, they find Helen and Jake in a very relaxed mood, clearly having taken full advantage of their daughters' absence.
Daria didn't know Trent had a band before now, despite knowing the Lanes for weeks! How did that never come up?
Several fanfics attempt to hook up Jane and Jesse, largely on the basis of a frame in this episode wherein they are both asleep, leaning on one another.
The Three Js complain about people with piercings earlier in the episode, despite them having their ears pierced.
This episode also set the tone for the Daria-Trent sexual tension. The idea, as explained once by one of the writers, was that Daria was so outspoken much of the time, but was rendered nearly speechless around Trent.
This is our first look at the type of 'activities' enjoyed by Helen and Jake (involving Helen being "chased" by him).
The title of this episode is derived from the film, The Road Warrior.
The scene where the gang are stuck in traffic parodies the music video for Everybody Hurts, by REM which Trent himself then references. The actual song was included in this scene originally, but was replaced by stock music in subsequent versions.
This episode marks the first (and only) appearance of Curtis Stalano, a classmate of Trent and Jesse's who works in a tollbooth.
This is one of only two episodes (The other being "I Don't") in which Daria is not wearing her usual attire for almost the complete duration of the episode.
One notable blunder was when Daria was asking if one of the windows could be opened to which Trent replied that it wasn't possible because of the handles being missing, yet in the scene where they are stuck in the traffic jam, Jesse is seen with his arm leaning out of the window.
Another blunder is when Jane and Daria stand before Trent and Jesse, Jane's legs are bare instead of having her usual black stockings but when the focus turns to the girls her stockings are back.
According to The Daria Diaries, Alternapalooza takes place in August, while school is not in session. All other first-season episodes (except perhaps "The Teachings of Don Jake", which also seems to occur during summer) take place during the school year. Unless that year's Alternapalooza was held months early, his puts "Road Worrier" out of chronological order with the rest of the first season - and also with season two', as both are commonly viewed as being in the same school year, even though the second season has Daria familiar with Jesse & Mystik Spiral and builds on the shipping hints from that episode.
Alternatively, "The Misery Chick" and season 2 can be taken as part of the same (incredibly eventful) year as seasons 3 and 4 - which strains credibility as "Depth Takes a Holiday" sets itself in late October - or Alternapalooza was held a few months early that year. A further option is to desperately try and not think about the chronological mess to avoid getting a headache.
Sandi drives the car on the way to Alternapalooza, so she would have to be at least 15 at the time. However, Daria is 15 when the series begins and the Fashion Club is in the school year below Daria.
Road Worrier and MTV's websites
In an MTV flipbook of minor characters (archived on a fansite), Anne D. Bernstein gave the nameless waitress from this story a name and personality: "I'm Sue, and I've been a waitress at "Mom's" since before my arches fell. (We're the original "Mom's," by the way, so if any of you know any slick city lawyers send them my way.) I've got a sassy attitude and a world-weary "seen it all" take on life, not unlike a certain little Lawndale gal with a peanut butter stain on her caboose. So why don'tcha meet some other folks who have appeared on Daria and tell them Sue sent ya? And if you're ever in these parts again, stop by. I'll still be here, refilling ketchup bottles and adjusting my sup hose. Unless it works out with that trucker from Tulsa..."
“Road Worrier” and Fanfic
This episode set the tone for much fanfic writing, with its close look at Daria Morgendorffer's crush on Trent Lane, and marked the first time ever that the two of them got to talk in private. thatLONERchick's "Alternatepalooza" depicts a version where Daria isn't crushing on Trent and they start to grate on each other.
Older fanfics often have this story happening in the summer holidays, following the Daria Diaries dating.
Alternate universe series that start around S1 will unfailingly depict an alternate version of "Road Worrier" in some way: John Lane ("Lessons of Spring"), God Save The Esteem, Finn Morgendorffer, Searching for a New Hope, ALL OF THEM.
“Road Worrier” and Fan art
There's not much of fan art around which centers around the events of "Road Worrier".
- Wouter Jaegers did a "What if" fan art depicting what if the troop had made it to Alternapalooza and is showing Brittany standing in front of a porta potty looking absolutely terrified at the prospect of having to use it.
- "Road Worrier" transcript on Outpost Daria
- "Road Worrier" summary on Sick, Sad World (website)
- "Road Worrier" review on Sick, Sad World (website)
- "Road Worrier" annotations on Sick, Sad World (website)
- "Road Worrier" summary and more on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
- "Road Worrier" summary on Fandango.com
- "Road Worrier" summary and more on the Big Cartoon Database
- "Road Worrier" summary and more on RetroJunk.com
- "Road Worrier" summary on TV.com
- "Road Worrier" summary and review on The Daria Shrine
- January 2006 interview with Anne D. Bernstein on DVDaria, in which the creator of "Road Worrier" briefly discusses that episode and the Daria/Trent pairing
- Episode Analysis by WellTemperedClavier