Glenn Eichler Interview (Conducted from March 16, 2005 to January 2, 2006)

KW = Kara Wild
GE = You know who

KW: Does Jake have any siblings?

GE: I think he was supposed to have an older sister.

KW: What was Jake's father's real name, and was he ever in the army (a widespread a fandom myth)?

GE: I don't know his real name - you can make up your own. I believe he was supposed to have been in the military - he would have been a member of "The Greatest Generation," i.e. draftable during World War II, and they were ALL in the military.

KW: How many years did Jake spend at military school?

GE: Oh, let's say... sixth grade until he was cashiered in tenth grade for being "unsoldierly."

KW: Is Jake Jewish?

GE: No, he just has a Teutonic-sounding surname. We really didn't want to peg characters to specific religions on the show - we were trying to satirize American social behavior in general.

KW: What were the ages of Helen and her sisters in "I Don't" (when Daria was 16)?

GE: Helen's about 45-46, Amy's about 40, Rita's about 48-49.

KW: Mom Barksdale is alive, but what year did Dad Barksdale die?

GE: Dunno. I guess when Helen was about 30.

KW: Did Helen grow up wealthy (another fandom myth)?

GE: No.

KW: What does Amy do for a living?

GE: Magazine writer? How does that sound?

KW: Did Helen's family live in a Southern state, like Virginia? (Some have pointed out that "Barksdale" is a well-known Southern name, fueling speculation that Helen's family was descended from the famous Southern general, etc., etc., etc. Yes, we know they're cartoons.)

GE: I always thought of the Barksdales as coming from someplace like Virginia that is southern but also cosmopolitan, i.e. not "Deep South" like Alabama. There's no specific connection to General Barksdale. I thought the Morgendorffers lived in a mid-Atlantic suburb, outside somewhere like Baltimore. They could have lived in Pennsylvania near the Main Line, though.

KW: How many months apart in age are Daria and Quinn?

GE: I used to know this... I think they're about 14 months apart, putting them one school year apart. But I'm sure we cheated that whenever it was convenient.

KW: What year did Daria graduate? (While the movie was aired in January 2002, some believe she really graduated in 2000.)

GE: I don't really like to attach specific dates to events in this cartoon world - you need some elasticity to do any kind of TV series, animated or live action. If I assign specific dates to events, the only purpose it serves is to get people upset about "violating canon," and I'm not sure what good that does anyone.

KW: Are there any "lost" episodes that never made it to air? Meaning episodes that sounded like really great ideas that you may have started to to develop, but ultimately wound up junking them because they didn't fit the season story arc, or whatnot?

GE: No, the schedule and budget didn't allow us that luxury. Once we committed to an episode idea, that was it.

KW: Your favorite and least favorite episodes.

GE: I can't really answer this one without watching them again. I have vague notions that I might not like this episode or that, but some of them I can't even remember. I don't want to name favorites and unfavorites off the top of my head.

KW: Anything you wish you could have done, or would have done differently?

GE: I guess not. It might have been nice to have an actual writing staff, instead of just myself and freelancers (with Peggy Nicoll joining up full-time later), but on the other hand, a bigger staff might have diluted the show's singular perspective. It would certainly have been nice to be able to pay established professional actors instead of literally having to troll the High School of Performing Arts for first-timers, but I have no complaints about the cast we eventually assembled. It would have been nice if a percentage of the viewers hadn't gotten so wrapped up in the "romance" (or non-romance) storylines that they missed out on other things we were trying to do, but that's their right as the audience. So all in all, I'm pretty pleased with the way the series turned out.

KW: What is Daria and Quinn's respective eye color (if they had real eye color and not black dots for eyes)?

GE: Brown and blue, I think. Didn't we do a close-up on Daria's eye in the contact lens episode?

KW: What would life at the Morgendorffer home be like once Daria left for college? Obviously less sarcastic, but would Helen get on Quinn's case more? Would there be more arguments (since both Helen and Quinn are high-strung)? Would Jake be lonely for someone to read the paper with?

GE: I imagine Quinn would find herself the unhappy recipient of more parental attention from Helen. Helen and Jake would probably go into a deep funk over Daria's departure and what it means to their own impending decrepitude. Jake would try to bond with Quinn and nearly give himself a stroke. Long silences would settle over the house. The days would drag and drag. Then Daria would come home for Columbus Day weekend and everything would be fine.

I'm KIDDING. Reduce the intensity of everything above by 3/4.

KW: Will Helen ever be made partner at her law firm, or are Eric and the senior partners just stringing her along?

GE: Yes, she will make partner, but she'll have to threaten to sue them for gender discrimination to get it. Eric won't speak to her for a year afterward. It will be the best year of her career.

KW: Were the Season 5 episodes aired out of order? (Some fans have worked out a chronology and are convinced that "Fizz Ed" and "Sappy Anniversary" should have aired later in the season, to match up with events that occurred in "Dye! Dye! My Darling" and "Is It Fall Yet?", while "Prize Fighters" should have aired earlier.)

GE: No, they were not. It might have made more sense to air them in the order you suggest, but they were aired in the order they were produced. I hope that gives you an indication as to how little planning of "season arcs" there actually was. Still puzzled by the fans' hostility to "Fizz Ed," BTW.

KW: And the "essay" question:

Why Tom?

Explanation: The majority of fans never seemed to warm to him, and not because they all wanted Daria to get together with Trent. For my part, I was bothered by the way he never seemed to suffer any real consequences for cheating on Jane with Daria (whereas Daria faced the near break-up of her friendship), and that in spite of his flaws, he was portrayed as wiser than Daria in many episodes. He seemed to have a lot of qualities that could make him a good character -- smart, sardonic, etc. -- but the way in which he got together with Daria, and the fact that he never seemed genuinely sorry for hurting Jane, increased the odds that fan opinion would be tilted against him from the beginning.

Did you intend for him to be such a controversial character, or did you have more positive intentions for him?

GE: Tom was created because we were going into our fourth year (if I remember correctly) and I thought it was really pushing credibility for Daria to have only had one or two dates during her whole high school career - I thought it was time in the evolution of her personality for a boyfriend to enter the picture. And of course it would provide us with some fresh storylines, always welcome after 39 episodes.

We had him start life as Jane's boyfriend for two reasons. First, Daria is not the type of person a high school boy would ask out after first meeting her - she's too formidable. In order for a boy to be attracted to someone as sarcastic and aloof as Daria, and vice versa, the two of them would have to grow on each other - in other words, he would need to spend a fair amount of time in her company BEFORE they started dating. So if he were going out with Jane, that would put them in close, frequent proximity.

The second reason he began as Jane's boyfriend was that I thought the situation would allow us to explore and test Daria and Jane's friendship. That may have backfired, because a percentage of the viewers thought that Jane would never have forgiven Daria in real life. Maybe that's true. But maybe it's not. They're fictional characters. George Harrison forgave Eric Clapton, right?

We made Tom rich because I thought it would add an interesting element of conflict to Daria and Tom's relationship. I didn't see a lot on TV about the real differences between the wealthy and the middle class - in fact, I didn't see any realistic portraits of privileged people at all (and I still don't). We made him wise because we really wanted him to be good to and for Daria. We tried to make him sympathetic, but again, perhaps the "betrayal" of Jane was too much for the majority of viewers. You know, sometimes a person as impulsive as Jane gets into a relationship that's not right, and it ends. That doesn't make Tom a monster. You have to consider that Tom and Jane would have broken up even if Daria hadn't been in the picture - they just weren't right for each other. And Jane wants to date a lot of guys at art college!

Speaking of "not right for each other," I'd just like to state for the record here that as cool and fun as Trent was, any viewer who really thought that Daria and Trent could make a go of a relationship was just not watching the show we were making. Other than physical attraction and the fact that both of them were decent at the core, Daria and Trent could not have had less in common.

KW: Does Jake have any siblings?

GE: I think he was supposed to have an older sister.

KW: A fan asks: Was there a specific reason why you chose not to mention her? Or, for that matter, to not give "face" time to other family members, like Grandma Barksdale?

GE: The show was about Daria and her immediate family and friends, and with 13 episodes a season you didn't want to spend, say, five of them on ancillary characters. Sometimes when you create a show bible (even a really rudimentary one like ours) you put in facts about the characters that you never quite get around to using - like Jake's having a sister. (If, in fact, that sister was even in the bible.)

KW: What were the ages of Helen and her sisters in "I Don't" (when Daria was 16)?

GE: Helen's about 45-46, Amy's about 40, Rita's about 48-49.

KW: Was this always how you saw the age order?

I'll confess, I had Helen pegged as the eldest sibling, based on her tendency to boss people around and the natural parallel it would form between her and Rita and Daria and Quinn.

This question spurred other fans to ask about the respective ages of Wind, Summer, and Penny Lane circa "Is It College Yet?".

GE: That was always the age order. In boomer families where the children came of age in the late '60s/early '70s, it was very common for the oldest child to get swept up in the social changes of the time, even maybe losing their footing a bit, whether that meant dropping out of school, becoming a huge druggie, getting into a bunch of bad "all you need is love" relationships, or having any number of other experiences that their parents considered scandalous. It was also common (but of course not universal) for the second child, having seen the travail of the oldest, to react by going pretty far in the other direction, opting for structure, et cetera. So yeah, Rita is the oldest, with her hard-earned scars of the '60s, and Helen is second - even though to someone born in the '70s it might look more logical the other way.

I used to have a piece of paper on my bulletin board spelling out the ages of Jane's brothers and sisters so I wouldn't forget them... unfortunately it's gone now. Penny would be mid-to-late '20s, Wind 30ish, Summer a year or two older than Wind. Summer is the Rita of that family... but there's no Helen.

KW: What does Amy do for a living?

GE: Magazine writer? How does that sound?

KW: Sounds pretty plausible, although it would raise the question of why Daria didn't seek her advice in "The Story of D" when she tried to publish one of her stories for the first time.

Have you given much thought to other aspects of her life? While most fans know that Amy isn't just an older Daria, we still see her as most likely to represent where Daria will end up 20 years down the road. Has Amy absorbed any of the life lessons that Daria, during the show, was in the process of learning? We know she likes to read and drives a mean car, but beyond that she's somewhat of a cipher.

GE: I've given virtually no thought to Amy's life - in "I Don't" she was portrayed as being cool and together, and what fun are those people?

Seriously, I'm glad she became what TV executives call an "aspirational" character - her fans wish they were her - but I don't think about her at all.

As for whether or not she's a magazine writer, it's just possible she may be a public relations account exec, in which case there's a certain amount of self-loathing percolating around her psyche somewhere. She may have driven away from that wedding and right over a cliff.

KW: How many months apart in age are Daria and Quinn?

GE: I used to know this... I think they're about 14 months apart, putting them one school year apart. But I'm sure we cheated that whenever it was convenient.

KW: A fan asks: Did you ever come up with specific months for their birthdays, or is that something else you prefer to keep loose?

GE: Definitely want to keep that loose. I'd like to keep my OWN birthday loose if I could.

KW: How can the Lane family afford such a large house in a tony suburb like Lawndale when it seems as though Vincent and Amanda Lane don't have real jobs?

GE: The inside of the house is a disaster area. Did you ever read "Running With Scissors?" It's kind of like the doctor's house in that book. I won't even go over there any more.

GE: Still puzzled by the fans' hostility to "Fizz Ed," BTW.

KW: Actually, quite a few fans like that episode. I myself have nothing against it; the only thing I would have wanted different would be to see Quinn and the Fashion Club's reaction to imposed sugar-soda drinking and neon shades.

The initial hostility/disappointment, I think, was caused by the sense of letdown the fans felt after "Is It Fall Yet?", which was really strong and emotional. In the months after it aired, fans were deep into discussing what the new developments would mean for Season Five (ex: Would Quinn's embrace of her intelligence put her on the fast track to the honor roll? Would we see more of Tom's family? Would Jane scarcely be able to hold back her resentment towards Daria, in spite of her urging that she "go ahead and date Tom"?). "Fizz Ed," while generally a solid episode, didn't do much to address these developments. Since fans didn't yet know the plotlines of episodes that followed, many, rightly or wrongly, saw this as an oversight.

There was also some sentiment that, while "Fizz Ed" was written to be in the spirit of Season One, it made Daria more passive/reluctant than she would have been in a Season One episode. If that's the case, it may have had more to do with Tracy Grandstaff's vocals for Season Five Daria than it did with the writing. Daria's voice lost a lot of inflection between Season One and Five, and one thing that bothered me about several of the later-season episodes was that, when she was supposed to be expressing conviction or making a witty comment, Daria sounded half-asleep and a little whiny.

In any event, now that we've seen all of the episodes, many people have gone back and re-evaluated "Fizz Ed," and appreciate its humor and insight. While it might not make everyone's Top Ten list, it was by no means an episode worthy of hostility.

For the record, I also enjoyed "Daria!" and "Depth Takes a Holiday."

GE: Well, I really appreciate everything you wrote above. As far as Tracy's vocals go, in Season Five I finally gave up doing the voice directing myself, and even though I supervised the track layout (where individual line readings are selected and timing tweaked), the performances were not the same as they would have been had I been in the booth. Doing "Is It Fall Yet?" was the production equivalent of adding three episodes to the end of Season Four - or, to put it another way, eliminating any down time between Seasons Four and Five. I was used to having 8 or 12 production-free weeks to get the script pipeline going, so in order to keep Season Five scripts at a high level, I had to give up the recording studio time. That's probably why Daria's voice "devolved" that season, and it's regrettable... but it was the only way to produce the show and the movie. (Or it seemed that way at the time.) I'm pretty sure I went back into the studio to supervise the recording of "Boxing Daria," but maybe not. A lot of it really is a blur.

GE: I imagine Quinn would find herself the unhappy recipient of more parental attention from Helen. Helen and Jake would probably go into a deep funk over Daria's departure and what it means to their own impending decrepitude. Jake would try to bond with Quinn and nearly give himself a stroke. Long silences would settle over the house. The days would drag and drag. Then Daria would come home for Columbus Day weekend and everything would be fine.

I'm KIDDING. Reduce the intensity of everything above by 3/4

KW: Heh. I would love to see an episode that featured the above scenarios.

Also, Helen and Jake would be thinking about their soon-to-be empty nest, wouldn't they? I've wondered what that would mean for their relationship, since episodes have shown that they can't really talk to one another and only seem to partner really well when they have sex. A lot of their home life (at least Helen's) revolves around their kids.

GE: I can only speculate... I'll say this: I know of more than one couple who patiently waited for the last kid to leave for college and then immediately started divorce proceedings. But then there are those who really enjoy their marriage post-empty-nest, so who knows.

KW: Other fans would like to know: Were the screen captures at the end of "Is It College Yet?" that depicted the characters' futures (ex. Quinn in the boardroom, Daria and Jane on a talk show) just gags, or did they have any connection to how you saw the characters' lives in the years to come?

GE: They were just for fun. Some were based on the characters' personality traits; some were based on turning those traits upside down; and some, like the talk-show scenario, were about satirizing TV and/or making fun of ourselves.

KW: We once read that you had been given the choice between a six-episode Season Six and a series-ending movie, and obviously you chose the movie. However, some fans felt that Season Five was a bit rushed in its attempt to tie up loose ends, and the series would have benefited from more episodes. If you had chosen to do the six episodes, what would you have done? Would you have covered anything that wasn't covered in "Is It College Yet?"

GE: The reason we didn't do six more was that we had pretty much said what we wanted to and taken the character where we wanted to take her. I felt like we were on the verge of repeating ourselves - so the answer to your question is, If I'd known what to do with six more, I'd have done six more.

KW: Why did you choose to not have Daria make any references to Beavis and Butt-head, or Beavis and Butt-head characters, like Van Driessen? There were various scenes throughout the series (such as Daria talking with Jane about her past in "Boxing Daria"), where an oblique reference to the "two idiots" she used to hang out with would have fit right in.

GE: B&B were very strong characters, with a very specific type of humor and very loyal fans, and of course they were instantly identifiable. I felt that referencing them in Daria, while we were trying to establish the new characters and the different type of humor, ran the risk of setting up false expectations and disappointment in the viewers - which could lead to a negative reaction to the new show and its different tone. So we steered clear of B&B in the early going, and once the new show was established, there was really no need to hearken back to the old one.

KW: Did MTV ever pressure you into making decisions for the series that you wouldn't have made otherwise? Meaning, did they ever force you to "sex up" or tone down any of the episodes? A popular theory in fandom after "Dye! Dye! My Darling" was that MTV came up with the idea for the Daria/Jane/Tom love triangle because they wanted Daria to be more like Dawson's Creek and other "typical" teen shows.

GE: No, MTV didn't pressure us at all after the development process ended and the show premiered. The triangle was my idea, for reasons I explained in the last batch of questions. Believe me, MTV NEVER mistook "Daria" for "Dawson's Creek," and I hope no one else did, either.

GE: Speaking of "not right for each other," I'd just like to state for the record here that as cool and fun as Trent was, any viewer who really thought that Daria and Trent could make a go of a relationship was just not watching the show we were making. Other than physical attraction and the fact that both of them were decent at the core, Daria and Trent could not have had less in common.

KW: I'm a Daria/Ted 'shipper, myself. Well maybe not Ted literally, but someone similar - quirky, full of knowledge, and gentle. Ted had the rare ability to make Daria to question her cynical behavior on her own, rather than do so only after she had been told several times that it was wrong.

GE: I liked Luhrman, myself.

KW: It seems as though with few exceptions, the men of Lawndale are weak while the women hold positions of power. Was that coincidental, a comment on American society, or did you have a specific agenda?

GE: None of the above... I noticed that phenomenon myself after we were into the series for a year or two. It wasn't by design, but it wasn't exactly coincidental, because I realized there was something about the women being more powerful than the men that gave the series a unique setting -- almost as if it were a slightly alternate universe. I think in episodic TV, strong male characters tend to overwhelm strong female characters, as a reflection of the balance of power in the real world and in the writing rooms. (Maybe that's why so many shows with young female protagonists place them in fatherless households.) Somehow that balance got reversed in Daria.

KW: Although Daria and Jane considered themselves to be outcasts, they often seemed to mingle with the most popular people in school (such as Jodie, Kevin, and Brittany). Why did you choose to make them more of a focus than other students who might have identified with their "outcast" status more, like Andrea, Dawn, "Shaggy," "Burn-out Girl," etc.?

GE: Because we were trying to satirize high school, not create a comfortable alternative world where Daria and Jane could be stars among their misfit peers (though this may appear contradictory to what I said in the above answer, since the whole world of Daria was a bit unreal). We didn't want to do a show about the misfits finding happiness through solidarity. We didn't want anyone finding happiness, period. A basic tenet of the Tao of Daria is that life is not fair, and any fan fiction that concludes differently violates the secret Daria rulebook buried at the base of an unmarked peak in the Alleghenies. Sorry!

KW: In spite of there being no set year for Daria's graduation, let's say she graduated between 1999 and 2001. What would the Morgendorffers, Jane, and other key Lawndale residents be doing in 2005? Would any of them have been affected by September 11 or the war in Iraq?

GE: I so can't answer that, it's not funny. Well, maybe I can, a little. They would certainly be reacting to the regressive administration we've had for the last five years and squirming to live under the new atmosphere of repression and this strange chokehold that religious fundamentalism has gained on our culture. But I don't think the Morgendorffers would have any specific reaction to September 11th. It's too complicated an issue. (I could see Kevin flying an American flag from his two-miles-a-gallon SUV to show his understanding of the situation.)

KW: During the course of the series, were Quinn or Jane ever sexually active? With the opposite sex? (Lesbian speculation ran high with both characters, and some people thought that was one reason the Allison plot was added to IIFY?, to put the question, where Jane was concerned, to rest. Unfortunately, it didn't work.)

GE: Quinn, no. She was all about attracting guys, not acting on it. Plus Quinn would tend to think of her virginity as currency, a currency she wasn't going to spend until she got a REALLY good exchange rate. (I'm not saying Quinn would maintain this attitude as she matured; this is sophomore-junior Quinn I'm talking about.) Jane... well, she could have been sexually active. I wanted to concentrate on things other than romance in the show, so we didn't focus on it, but having sex would certainly have been in character for her. As for the gay thing, I honestly wasn't aware of that speculation when we wrote IIFY. And though I see Jane as straight or maybe "straight and curious," it's fine with me if the speculation continues.

KW: This one exchange from "Is It Fall Yet?" has intrigued me for quite some time:

Daria: And I judge myself unfit for human contact.

Helen: That's exactly what you will be if you don't start engaging with the rest of us. You keep hiding your real face behind that antisocial mask and one day the mask will be your face. I'm not letting that happen. You're working at that camp.

Helen's repeated references to a "mask" are interesting, considering the lengths she goes to in order to hide her age and appear vital and active. Did Helen have any self-awareness when she made those statements -- maybe regretting how she had let her own personality take on a mask that hid her true self from everyone else, and not wanting the same thing to happen to Daria?

GE: I don't think so. I think parents see the breadth of their children's personalities, especially when those kids are young and uninhibited, and it pains them to see the kids withdraw (in varying degrees, of course) during adolescence. But I don't think adults in their 40s worry too much about having hidden their true self from everyone else -- that's the only way to GET to 40. Helen's efforts to hide her age, unfortunately, often come with the territory for mature working women and, increasingly, men. They're not meant as a comment on her shallowness so much as a comment on the pressures the working world exerts on women and on middle-aged adults in general.

KW: Also, fans would just like to know, in general, what you're up to these days. We know at the very least that you're a consultant for O'Grady.

GE: I'm consulting on a couple of other shows, too, and I've written a bunch of pilots in the past couple of years, but don't sit in front of the TV waiting for them to air. I've also done some screenplay work (again, nothing currently being produced)... just the usual life of a freelance writer in the age of reality TV. But I really appreciate all the continued interest in Daria, and if you all want to write stories about her with happy endings, hey -- to hell with the secret rulebook!

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.

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