The Misery Chick
|The Misery Chick|
|Original Airdate||July 21, 1997|
|Special Guest Voices|
|Written By||Glenn Eichler|
For other uses of "The Misery Chick", see The Misery Chick (disambiguation).
“The Misery Chick” was the thirteenth and last episode of the first season of Daria. It first aired on MTV on July 21, 1997.
"The Misery Chick" was written by Glenn Eichler.
Former Lawndale High football star Tommy Sherman, a student who had attended school three years previously, is returning to have a goal post named in his honor. Daria is told of the his athletics exploits, including his tendency to score touchdowns by himself, his habit of crashing into goalposts while waving at the crowd and his induced coma from which he had awaken up to win the state championship years before. This description prompts sarcastic remarks about the student and his expected future life, both to Jane and to Jodie, the latter of whom is angry she has to write an introductory speech for Sherman.
However, Tommy Sherman is shown to be a very unpleasant person, strutting through the school halls, bluntly propositioning Brittany and insulting Kevin and Mack shortly after arriving in Lawndale High.
Daria, who witnesses this behavior, is fed up and verbally belittles Tommy when the later makes some nasty remarks to her and Jane as Daria was just asking him to move (he was leaning on her locker). Tommy, however, doesn’t get mad at the verbal barb and makes one of his own, pointing out he's a winner who’s going to be honored, whereas Daria is just a depressed whiner girl, nicknaming her ‘misery chick’. After the exchanged insults, he sets out to the football field for the ceremony. As Daria expresses her disdain about a jerk like him being seen as a hero for the rest of his life, Jane casually remarks that "Maybe he won't live that long". Just after she says that, Tommy is killed when the goalpost falls on him.
The next days are filled with reactions to his death. Mrs. Li address a student’s assembly, praising Sherman, as with an inconsolable Kevin cries all throughout the ceremony. Daria, on the other hand, Daria finds herself the object of much unwanted attention from other students and even a teacher. They feel either sad or anxious by the situation and consider Daria to be a candidate to understand death related subjects, since she is often seen as being gloomy and depressed. Despite her unease with her role and label of misery chick, Daria consoles Kevin, Brittany, O’Neill and even Quinn. At the same time, Daria finds the one person she is interested in talking to, Jane, seems to be avoiding her.
Finally fed up with her friend’s absences, she goes meet her at the Lanes. After a brief conversation with Trent, where he reveals Tommy and he had been classmates but hadn’t had much contact, Daria confronts Jane in her room. After an awkward beginning, Daria expresses her frustration: that people keep assuming she's miserable and therefore knows what to do when she isn't miserable, just not like the others. Jane explains the reason the others were coming to her was that they were searching for ways to deal with Sherman and to stop thinking about life and death, thinking Daria would be the best to approach; when they say she's miserable, they mean "you think" and they want to know how to cope with having to think things they don't want to.
Jane admits she had been avoiding Daria because she didn’t want to remember that her comment might had caused the football player’s death, a notion Daria quickly dismisses, and the two clear the air on all the sore points: that Jane doesn't think Daria's a misery chick, and that Daria knows Tommy Sherman shouldn't have died but that he also wasn't a nice person. Afterwards, Jane admits she told Trent to say to anyone that visits that she was out running. "What a surprise, he forgot." "He didn't," replies Daria.
Soon everything is back to normal in Lawndale high, though Daria gets to lay things down when asked a question about Tennyson's "better to have loved and lost" quote, as she says realising that life is both good and painful is being realistic, not miserable, and recognises pain is better than feeling nothing. Despite all this, Daria is still approached a few days later. This time by Sandi, whose cat Fluffy is ill. However, Daria is now ready, demanding a cash payment in advance of delivering blunt, though effective, advice.
The original script
- Daria and Jane mocking Jodie's speech goes on longer in the original script: "Because football is what made our country great. Studying? For losers." "Brewskis for everyone! Turn up the TV."
- After Jodie says "You think I like this?", Jane would have responded with: "You're dating a football player." Jodie's response was the illuminating: "Mack's cool. Besides, do you see the mothers of Lawndale lining up to introduce me to their sons? I don't think so." This idea that Mack and Jodie are together in part because of race would be used in "The Daria Diaries".
- Tommy Sherman is described as a "big hunky guy" with his nose as a "jarring note in his appearance", squashed flat by football. "A carefully styled adman's haircut that says, "I love myself deeply."" (Which, in the end, he doesn't get drawn with) His swaggering strut down the corridor is "waiting for people to notice him."
- Li's speech was originally meant to go on longer, with platitudes about how "I believe the lesson lies not in this young man's death, but in his life." Daria was to react like she knows she's "hearing bullshit" but doesn't want to disrupt.
- Two cut lines when Daria visits Casa Lane establish that Jane's been using the "gone running" excuse for two days now to avoid Daria, which Daria has not picked up on. Later, after Daria tells Jane that Trent didn't forget this, the scene continued and Jane says "I hate running" - as this line was cut, she was established as actually loving it for later episodes.
- Glenn Eichler listed this as one of his top episodes in an interview with Nerdist and said: "If you don’t smile constantly, people think there’s something wrong with you. And if something bad happens to a person you don’t know/care about, and you don’t act emotionally stricken, people think there’s something wrong with you. So to me, the point of that episode was there’s no reason to criticize her for the way she is. In fact, it’s perfectly valid, and in fact more honest than a lot of people."
- In The Daria Diaries, Sherman is mistakenly called Tommy Sheridan.
- The later episode "A Tree Grows in Lawndale" shows a memorial tree for Tommy.
- Daria's comments on Tennyson provide a contrast with later episodes, which make it clear Daria has traditionally disengaged from the rest of the world rather than deal with it; in "Psycho Therapy", she even admits she's aware of why she does this. This, however, was before she moved to Lawndale and met Jane, someone Daria has called her first friend. In "Is It Fall Yet?", she'll withdraw again during a bust-up with Jane (following The Kiss) but find herself trying to convince a young boy, Link, to not completely disengage.
- Daria's appearence color-wise in the episode was much paler than how she usually appears in the show.
- The Nostalgia Critic held up this episode as an example of Daria handling issues that teenagers would have to go through, comparing it to a real-life death of a disliked student at his school. He praised the episode for accurately how teenagers would be confused about how they should feel.
“The Misery Chick” and Fanfic
This events of this episode, or alternate versions thereof, have been used in multiple fanfics, including: