“You could show me how to twirl hair around my little finger and look vacant.”
In this second-ever episode of Daria, we get to know some of her Lawndale High classmates a little better as Daria and Jane attend a popular kids’ party at Brittany’s house.
Daria and Quinn are walking to school, not quite together but close enough to irritate the perkier Morgendorffer, when a trio of guys (Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie, who will follow her around throughout the series, though we don’t know that yet) come up, asking in succession if they can carry Quinn’s books, pencil, and whatever else she has left, which is a hair scrunchie. When one of the guys asks if that’s Quinn’s sister, she says not to pry and gets his name wrong (which also becomes a sort of running gag).
At school, Brittany is having predictable trouble with one-point perspective, so Daria has to help her, which she does by very slowly explaining it using the example of standing in the mall looking down at Cashman’s department store at the end.
Out in the hall, Kevin is talking to “Mac Daddy,” who asks him not to call him that. Mac is another football player and, we’ll learn later, dating Jodie. The couple are among the only students of color at Lawndale, and throughout the series will bring up some interesting points and perspectives about race and privilege. They’re talking about a party Brittany is having, not because it’s her birthday (which Kevin knows was last month, since he helped her exchange all her presents and a sales lady explained the difference between perfume and cologne) but to celebrate her parents being out of town. Quinn’s trio of followers approaches and Kevin tells them they’re automatically invited because they’re on the team, and they trip over themselves to ask Quinn to come with. She says yes to all three of them because, as she says, “You can’t expect me to choose a boyfriend right away. That would be like eating the first pancake off the stove. You have to feed one to the dog.”
I actually like Quinn a lot sometimes.
In the cafeteria, Daria and Brittany are in line getting lunch, and Brittany offers to help Daria with something in exchange for her help in art. Since twirling your hair around your little finger and looking vacant isn’t something you can teach, Brittany decides to invite Daria to her party. It’s a nice enough gesture, and one that’s especially flattering once she reveals she promised the rest of the cheerleaders she wouldn’t invite any more really cute girls.
At Jane’s house, Daria is looking through her sketchbook from figure drawing, and upon finding a model who was really bursting off the picture plane (“That particular model was quite bursty. I think she had her bursts done.”) Daria is reminded to tell Jane about the invitation. She’d rather swallow glass than go, but Jane things she’ll be able to get some sketches. She considers going in Daria’s place, but her face is too expressive to pass.
Quinn is in her room making very important decisions about her party outfit (“Sheer, semi-sheer, or opaque? Textured!”), and when she learns that Daria is invited to the same shindig, she tells her not to go because she’ll ruin everything and runs out of the room shouting to their parents that Daria is ruining her life, again. At dinner, she tries unsuccessfully to get Daria grounded, but everything she tries makes her look just as bad, and she runs from the table after Helen says she thinks it’s great that the girls are spending time together. After Quinn leaves, Helen enlists Daria to keep an eye on her while they’re there.
Brittany and Kevin are setting things up. Brittany is nervous because she is worried people will judge her house since the Jacuzzi isn’t in yet, but the always loving Kevin reassures her that it’s not about the house, it’s more important that there will be popular people with great hair. Phew. Once the party starts, the trio is doting on Quinn in their usual hapless fashion, and we see Jodie ask Brittany (jokingly) where the Jacuzzi is. A group of girls (Fashion Club members Sandy and Tiffany, plus a random blonde) are standing around talking about the other people at the party.
Now she’s really popular, but not as popular as she is. He’s medium popular, and he just bought a great car so soon he’ll be getting more popular. That guy was just popular enough to be invited, but now he needs to hook up with a girl who’s more popular than he is.
Jane’s brother Trent drops her and Daria off outside Brittany’s gated neighborhood. Since Jane isn’t on the list, the girls give the guard her sketchbook as a distraction. At the door, she’s allowed in because she knows that geometry is full of circles, squares, and triangles. Over at the chip table, the girls are approached by the curly-haired ginger sleaze, Chuck Ruttheimer (a.k.a. Upchuck). He gives them a tour of the house and says he was invited because he dissected Brittany’s frog.
The same trio of girls is talking about how popular everyone is, and can’t figure out why Daria, Jane, and Upchuck are there, or why Daria’s face is all one color. Two guys are staring at Jane and Daria, and when one asks where they’ve been all his life, Daria answers:
Waiting here for you. We were born in this room, we grew up in this room, and we thought we would die here… alone. But now you’ve arrived, and our lives can truly begin.
(Gotta remember that one in case someone tries that line on me.)
The guard is still looking at the drawings, and races off to find Jane so he can take the same class. When he’s gone, a bunch of cars burst through the gate. A man comes and pounds on the door to report the party, but the guard is gone. He pulls out the old “I pay your salary” line, so you can assume he’s a d-bag.
Quinn escapes into the bathroom to avoid Daria, who takes this opportunity to tell embarrassing stories to the J trio. Outside the laundry room, the J’s are all reassuring her that her brainy sister doesn’t make them like her less, and they take it in turns to try to get with her. She panics because the laundry room is overflowing and her shoes are suede.
After they leave the area, Jane slinks out of the laundry room (with a sock on her shoulder) to find Daria so they can leave. Daria rates the evening a success.
Well, I didn’t talk to a whole bunch of new people, I made Quinn want to throw herself down a well, and I’m going home with a bonus sock. All in all, a great night.
Quinn tries to let the J squad down easy, and they end up fighting each other, which is obviously terrible.
The cops come and break up the party, but Daria and Jane are down at the guard booth asking residents random questions. Quinn walks up in her squishy shoes with no ride home. They don’t want to call their parents, so all three girls grudgingly get in the car with Upchuck.
- Tiffany speaks a line in this episode, but is not using her trademark voice yet.
- First appearance of Joey, Jeffy, and Jaime.
- First appearances of Mac, Jodie, Upchuck, and Trent.
- We see a hint at Daria’s long-time crush on Trent as she doesn’t say anything in his car and Jane teases her about it.
3 replies on “Ladyghosts of TV Past: Daria, 1×02, “The Invitation””
I’m jumping ahead here, but I think Quinn is really a groundbreaking character. She dates a lot of different guys and none of the other characters criticize her for it from a shaming angle; the worst she gets called is shallow.
When she got upset because she couldn’t make a serious relationship work, her mom just told her that she might not be ready to and that was OK. I love that the core family in the show tear into each other but in the end they are always there for each other, and you really see that in the last season.
Plus Quinn gets some of the best lines in the series. “Never ever date a guy less attractive than you, although equally attractive is OK.” That’s a welcome change from the “schlubby guy and hot wife” trope splattered all over TV and movies.
She really has a lot of great moments.
“I want to be a role model for all people, even the one’s who need make-up really badly.”