Follow-up Questions (Set #4) with
Glenn Eichler

KW = Kara Wild
GE = You know who

KW: Does anyone in Daria's family, besides Daria herself, have any major vision problems? Who does Daria have to "thank" for her vision problems?

GE: I never thought about it, but I guess not (except Amy, whose glasses we've all seen). I would say that by now Jake and Helen are wearing reading glasses, wherever they are.

KW: How did you come up with the characters' names?

GE: Mike Judge named Daria after the girl he called "Diarrhea" in school. I worked with Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil (who later became the executive producers of Frasier) on the pilot animatic script and I believe they named Jake, Helen and Quinn. That's significant in a fanboy way because their latest show is the John Stamos comedy Jake in Progress, leading me to believe they really like the name Jake. I think I gave Jane her name because the one syllable sounded good with Daria's three syllables, and also I liked the rhyme "Jane Lane." I think Susie Lewis named Trent, presumably after Trent Reznor. Brittany and Kevin? Anybody's guess.

KW: Did you have Daria's maturity throughout the series planned out from the beginning, or did you just happed to move in that direction as you went along?

GE: Just kept movin' along. We handled it in the most realistic way we could. As I've often said, there was no master plan.

KW: In a show with deeply flawed male characters, why does Mack stand out as the one normal guy, the one person without any major quirks or flaws?

GE: Mack may be the least realized of the "major" characters, for several reasons. One of them is that we never did cast him to our full satisfaction, and he was played by at least three different actors. We never had the chance to match his personality to the actor's talents, the way we did with the other characters, and use that method to deepen his character.

KW: Okay, so you've established that high school Quinn is a virgin. How, then, did she manage to stay out so late on her dates?

GE: You're forgetting that we did the show before 9/11, when there was no Patriot Act mandating a curfew for the chaste. Seriously, what does one thing have to do with another? She and her date go to dinner, then a movie, then they get ice cream, then they make out for two hours until he's about to burst, and it's already like two a.m.

KW: Quinn would let a guy go as far as second or third base? That shows a remarkable willingness on her part to muss up her hair and make-up.

GE: Sometimes you have to make sacrifices when you're enslaving people.

KW: Just how good a businessman is Jake? Some episodes he seems to be a successful consultant, while in others he has to fight to earn enough money to afford his parking space.

GE: Not very good. But even a stopped clock manages to get a lucrative retainer now and then. You have to remember we did the show at MTV, where highly paid idiot "consultants" roam the halls dispensing wisdom like "Kids today communicate through text messaging! That's a cell phone thing they do!" So I figured if they could make a living stating the obvious, so could Jake. Jake isn't stupid, but I don't think he's good at office politics the way Helen is. That's an endearing quality in him, actually.

KW: What aspects of popular culture, including books, comics, etc. were a strong influence on you when you created the series?

GE: That's a huge question... I guess I'd say anything that didn't speak down to its audience. Otherwise I tried to work more from real-life observations than by emulating a particular TV show, comic, movie or book.

KW: Did you have input into the character design or voice development? What made you go with the "looks" and vocals you ultimately chose? (For instance, early renditions of Quinn made her look, er, sexier, than her final appearance.)

GE: I don't know what particular Quinn drawings you're referring too, but I had a lot of input into the designs (as did Susie Lewis) even though I'm not an artist myself. And I had even more input into the vocal characterizations since I attended and supervised every voice record through Season Four. The look we were going for was something visually attractive as opposed to grotesque or "so ugly it's pretty," utilizing a heavier line, more streamlined look and richer palette than Beavis. That was to differentiate ourselves and establish a separate identity from our "parent" show, and also just because it looked good. As far as the vocal styles went, we wanted the characters to be funny and easily distinguished from each other -- not exactly revolutionary goals. We also wanted them to be realistic as opposed to over-the-top cartoony (i.e. badly acted). There's no reason a cartoon can't have subtlety in the voice acting. You just have to ask for it.

KW: Who wrote the MTV website material for the show? Was it the "Daria" writers themselves, or just random interns, etc. for the network?

GE: Most of that was written by Anne Bernstein, which is why it was so funny and consistent with the series. I edited Anne's stuff before it went up.

KW: Under the category of "Obscure Episode References": "The Big House" starts with Daria getting out of a sedan and sneaking to the front door. Whose car was it? It obviously wasn't Jane's.

GE: I always liked the fact that we never explained where she'd been (or whose car that was). I do have a vague memory that there was another episode that season in which Daria was out on a double date with Quinn in a car, and I think I had some half-assed idea that "The Big House" picked up right where the previous episode let off. Does that ring a bell with anyone? In any case, I'm sure the two cars weren't consistent in design, but it's the thought that counts.

KW: In "Dye! Dye! My Darling," Daria asks Quinn, "If your best friend were going out with someone and you kissed him, would you tell her?" Quinn responds, "Are you crazy? Why would I do that?" Did Quinn mean "Why would I kiss my best friend's boyfriend?" or "Why would I tell my best friend that I kissed her boyfriend?"

GE: The latter. At that point Quinn's moral compass had not yet been fully magnetized.

KW: And finally, this question occurred to me a few days ago. If Trent was never intended for Daria, and if the show wasn't supposed to be about them getting together and dating, what was the purpose of those "teaser" episodes like "Pierce Me," where Trent appears to flirt with, or at least tease, Daria a little?

GE: You answered your own question -- they were teasers, intended to provide some fun for that portion of the audience that was so invested in the romance angle. The fact that those moments were few and far between should have given some indication that the series was not about Daria's love life.

January 2, 2006

Essential DARIA DVD music