The Lawndale File

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The Lawndale File
Production Number 311
Original Airdate August 4th, 1999
Special Guest Voices
Written By Peter Elwell
Directed By

"The Lawndale File" was the eleventh episode of the third season of Daria (episode number 311). It first aired on MTV on August 4th, 1999 and was written by Peter Elwell. This episode contains many elements that parody the then-popular TV series The X-Files and its 1998 movie. It is sometimes mis-written as "The Lawndale Files".


A mysterious pair of government agents arrive at Lawndale High, advising students to be on the lookout for "anyone different". Daria and Lane take that in their stride, until they see a segment about alien infiltrators on Sick, Sad World. Jane jokes that instead of a full-on alien infultration, that it would be more practical for aliens to plant control devices in people's necks. Things start to get weird when Daria and Jane hear Trent playing cheerful music. Things get weirder when Quinn starts wearing an unfashionable black turtleneck sweater, reaffirming Daria's earlier suspicion about alien control devices mentioned by Jane. Helen also casually remarks that of course aliens are walking the streets, when many of them can't afford cars...

(After Daria leaves, Helen wonders why her daughter was acting so prejudiced against foreign immigrants.)

Things really start spiralling out of control at school, as Mr. O'Neill's offhand comments about how aliens were a metaphor for communists in 1950's sci-fi movies is overheard and misinterpreted by Kevin, Brittany, Upchuck, Mack, and Jodie... and Mr. DeMartino's arrest by the government agents apparently provides confirmation of everyone's suspicions. Daria and Jane endure more weirdness, including being followed by Kevin et al, who think they're "atomic communists", and a visit from U.F.O. nut Artie, who's now working at Pizza King and spends hours filling Daria in on his alien encounters and how they've replaced his skin... thus costing him his job (which has happened to him before... often). Meanwhile, Jake becomes worried that Daria has become a communist as a reaction to him & Helen becoming "the Man" that they used to march against.

The misunderstandings are finally straightened out the next day. Mr. DeMartino's arrest? Ms. Barch had turned him in to the Immigration and Naturalization Service as an alleged illegal alien. Quinn's new outfit? She was trying to hide a neck zit. Trent's unusually happy song? It's a jingle he wrote for a local used car dealer to get some quick cash/free tires and was too embarrassed to tell Jane about it.

The Fashion Club sporting a beatnik outfit

And as it did in the beginning of the whole affair, Sick, Sad World provided the perfect capper with an interview of Artie, who claims that alien love goddesses deprived him of his skin and his job... aliens that look suspiciously like Daria and Jane.

Mr. O'Neill as Karl Marx


This episode features the return of Artie from "Esteemsters."

The government agents are visual pastiches of Mulder and Scully from The X-Files.

Sick, Sad World, for the first and only time, reports on something Daria was involved in.

Quinn and the Fashion Club's black turtleneck sweaters and flat caps are based on 1950s beatniks.

O'Neill has a one-man show "in progress" about the life of Karl Marx. When did he start doing this?! He can't have only just done it for now!

"The Lawndale File" and Fanfic[edit]

"And I on the Opposite Shore Will Be" by The Angst Guy: a science fiction fanfic following on from the end of this episode

"It's That Guy" by RLobinske: another twist on the ending

"Not So Different 37: 'Fury, Signifying Nothing'" by J-D: part of a genderswap series, with the sinister agents coming after "Sonny" Morgendorffer

Galen Hardesty would have O'Neill as a genuine communist in "Blood Oath of Patriots".

External Links[edit]

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Preceded by
Speedtrapped (310)
Daria Episodes
"The Lawndale File," Season 3 Episode 11
Succeeded by
Just Add Water (312)