Thursday, December 22, 2011

12/22 - La La LA La La

As these letters are so ridiculous, I shall content myself with thinking of episodes of Daria which they most call to mind.

L4: As the worst of LW4 comes out in relation to simple interaction with her family, I thought of Lane Miserables, the one episode in which we see all of Jane's and Trent's older siblings. It begins with Jane, Trent and their mother Amanda debating the nature of a red stain in the empty refrigerator when suddenly people start arriving. Penny's business in South America was lost in a volcano eruption and she brings her parrot. Wind's wife has kicked him out and wants a divorce. And dad Vincent returns home from his latest photography junket.

When Wind starts watching marriage counseling programmes on her television, Jane relocates to the Morgendorffers', where Helen and Jake pump her for personal information about Daria. Summer's children Courtney and Adrian run away from home and come to stay, and the chaos drives Trent out as well. He plans to stay in his band's van, but shows up looking for Jane at the Morgendorffers and is taken in also.

Trent and Daria have a conversation comparing Huckleberry Finn to Huckleberry Hound, and Quinn tries to show Daria how to visualize what she wants the future to be like. When all Daria can imagine is a dead-end low paying job with Trent balding and beer-bellied but as layabout as ever, Jane asks her if she's all right, and Daria says she thinks she just got over something.

As Amanda's zen is tested, Summer arrives to collect her kids, but decides to stay a couple of days. Trent, who spent four hours breaking up with Monique and didn't make curfew, tries to explain to Helen and Jake how the Lanes never had house rules, but is grounded anyway. When Amanda arrives and is surprised to find her children have been staying there, she starts explaining to Helen why she doesn't believe in grounding, but finally loses her serene manner and begs Helen to help her get her house back.

On Helen's advice, Amanda institutes a Family Dinner. In no time flat, the younger generations are all at each others' throats, as Amanda declares, "I have such interesting and articulate children! And grandchildren!" The prospect of continued life en famille drives the visitors back from whence they cam, allowing Jane and Trent to return home, Just at the end, when Daria consoles him over his breakup, Trent agrees that he and Monique aren't meant to be, and it's too bad Daria isn't a little older, as he could take her out. As he goes, Daria gets a flash of a vision of herself in evening dress with a well-coiffed, suited, rich and successful Trent telling her what an inspiration she's always been - and curses to realize that she's not as over that little something as she thought.

L3: As we are dealing with coming to terms with the apparently inconsistent spiritual beleifs of relatives, this one is easy - Groped By an Angel. Quinn has recently been taking an interest in Chicken Soup-level spirituality. Daria points out the inconsistencies in the Guardian Angel stories that Quinn likes best. However, Helen takes Quinn's side and astounds Daria by suggesting that Quinn's interest in spirituality must have come from herself. When Daria wonders how helping major corporations get away with unethical behaviour could be considered spiritual, Helen jumps on the word helping.

After the chandelier Jake installed incorrectly in the kitchen crashes just after Quinn rose from the seat beneath it, Quinn attributes that to her own Guardian Angel. She proceeds to give her GA credit for such things as Mr DeMartino changing his mind about calling on her in class. Even when Jake ruins her pants when some black tape gets into the laundry, he gives her more money than she needs for a new pair. Eventually Sandi evokes her own Guardian Angel (out of jealousy), to which Quinn responds with genuine enthusiasm, but Sandi's GA, who (with remarkable consistency) told her to have the raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing at lunch, didn't know that it had gone bad and would make Sandi, Stacy and Tiffany sick. And of course something - or someone - told Quinn not to have that dressing.

Meanwhile, Brittany has been improving her grades. She now has a C-minus average. To celebrate, her father is throwing her a party with a band (Mystik Spiral) and everyone's invited - even the unpopular people. Brittany's father proudly shows off to her young stepmother Ashley Amber the near-crystal bullhorn he ordered with a "C" on it without any minus because he figured she deserved an upgrade.

Joey, Jeffy and Jamie are alarmed by Quinn's tales of her GA. They eventually figure out that it's some old dude who follows her around everywhere - even in the shower. That pervert! At the party, they think Mr O'Neil might be Quinn's GA and try to take it outside. Upchuck meets Ashley Amber and is intrigued by the idea of an Older Woman, but she drifts away and tells Jane that the party is for Brittany because she's become an honour student.

Meanwhile, things go from bad to worse for Quinn. She spills her soda on her new pants and Sandi mockingly hopes that nobody will think she had an accident. Trying to rub out the stain, she leans on Mystik Spiral's mixing board and accidentally causes the glass bullhorn to smash. She runs out of the party in tears.

Back at home after the party, Quinn is still inconsolable at the thought that her GA has deserted her. Daria, astonishingly, caves. She suggests that maybe the GA had better things to watch out for than a pair of pants and a useless, overpriced glass ornament. Eventually, Quinn resolves that maybe she can handle all the little things herself without her GA's help, while knowing that he'll be around for the big stuff when she really needs him. Helen then gives Daria great credit for putting aside her own strong beliefs to be sympathetic to the beliefs of others.

L2: A toxic sibling suggest Aunt Nauseam - sort of a continuation of I Don't, but with a more upbeat conclusion. Helen is on the phone with her sister Rita, much to Jake's dismay. Jake relays to the just-arrived Daria that her cousin Erin is getting a divorce. Quinn is annoyed that she wore that bridesmaid's dress for nothing at the wedding. As Rita was always Mother's Favourite, her relationship with Helen has always been rocky. Helen explains that she doesn't handle divorces, but there's an associate in her firm who'd be perfect. But the insinuation that Mother would take Helen's passing off the divorce to a mere associate badly, along with Rita's assurance that it will be the simplest divorce in the world, convince Helen to agree to handle it herself.

Helen tries to prepare Quinn and Daria for Erin's arrival. Jake leaves off recipes from his Civil War Cookbook and prepares a pitcher of Martinis. The doorbell rings, and it's Rita, not Erin. Rita's apartment is being repainted, so she decided to come with Erin, only then Mother decided that Erin needed cheering up and sent her to Gstaad. This does nothing to improve Helen's mood. Jake drinks the whole pitcher of Martinis in a gulp. Presently, he tells Daria he can't take the fighting, and decamps, after arranging a code to tell him when it will be safe to return.

When Helen and Rita finally start to get something accomplished, Erin calls from Gstaad and speaks to Quinn, who commisserates with her about breakups. To keep things from going too smoothly, Quinn passes on a message from Erin, that she signed a prenup which will basically negate everything Helen's done and make the divorce one of the complicated kind that really ought to be handled by a specialist.

Quinn acts unlike herself, even suggesting to Daria at one point that they watch Gone With the Wind together. Tom is there for Daria, but she isn't up to more than the occasional pizza. With helen and Rita still at each other's throats, Daria calls in reinforcements in the form of her Aunt Amy, whose role in the Barksdale girlhood had been to hide in her room reading.

Before Amy arrives, Erin calls again. Brian has flown out to meet her in Gstaad, and the divorce is off. Rita and Helen try to reconcile by baking cookies, only to be fighting again by the time Amy gets there. Amy supports one and then the other, and is quickly sucked into the Same Old Fight as Always. Then Daria and Quinn finally establish peace by interrupting to reenact what they all were sounding like. But Amy's visit is not wasted; she at least explains to Daria that Tom wasn't butting in but was offering her his time. Daria explains this to Tom, who, being used to his family pretending problems don't exist, is fascinated, and only spooked when Daria can't go out with him that evening because she's going to watch Gone With the Wind with Quinn after all.

After the film, Quinn asks if they'll be having the same fight for the next thirty years. Daria replies that they'll use weapons. This dismays Quinn until Daria explains that her only weapon will be her winning personality and Quinn's will be her merciless silent treatment. Quinn starts to say she doesn't have... gets the point, and agrees to the deal. Jake forgets his code and isn't sure it's safe to come home.

L1: A LW completely stuck in childhood traditions? Camp Fear. Daria and Quinn are invited to the five-year reunion of the group with whom they were at Camp Grizzly. Quinn is thrilled. Daria has no intention of going until Helen tells her that, if she doesn't go, they could use her help cleaning the garage. Daria goes.

The sisters are transported by Trent and Jane. Trent is looking for inspiration, as Mystik Spiral is in a bit of a funk. Jane thinks they just all get on each other's nerves. Quinn, after talking non-stop, immediately on arrival meets up with her old friends Cindy, Tracy and Tatiana, who are exactly like the Fashion Club. Daria is immediately accosted by Amelia, who is so glad Daria came that Trent and Jane tease Daria about being popular before the self-proclaimed embodiment of camp spirit, Skip, shows up and Jane and Trent depart.

While Daria and Quinn are at camp, Trent and Jane get sucked into spending time with a couple who run a country store and ask them to try their experimental new potato chips that turn out to have no taste. This delights the couple, as they were making tasteless chips so that they wouldn't fight the dip.

Jake and Helen, meanwhile, clean out the garage. Jake gets depressed when he keeps finding vacation gear for trips they never took because Helen had to work. Finally he stumbles on some lingerie. Helen explains that that was for a surprise Valentine getaway she had planned one year, only then Jake had had a conference. As usual, one thing leads to another.

While Quinn and her friends relive how they never went on hikes and how much Quinn loved the game with the greasy watermelon when she and her friends would resist Skip's attempt to get them to chase after it, and would just wait to see who would bring them watermelon - Billy, Bobby or Benjy, Daria just tries to be alone. Unfortunately, Amelia sticks to her like glue. She turns Daria's statements about being an individual in the face of Skip's bullying people into group activities into a We. Hint after hint gets Daria nowhere. Finally she makes her point as bluntly as she needs to to get Amelia to go away.

Quinn was going to ride back after the reunion with Cindy, Tracy and Tatiana, but Cindy finds out that Quinn skipped out on the big campfire five years ago with Cindy's date, and tells Quinn to find another ride back. Meanwhile, at a big gathering, Mr Potts makes a short speech. Skip then is about to start spreading his annoying camp spirit when Amelia grabs the microphone from him. She gripes about how Skip had been bossing everyone around, and everybody had let him in order not to stand out from the group. But she won't take it any more, because of what one person told her about standing up for herself and being an individual - Daria. And somewhat to Daria's surprise, almost everyone in camp immediately joins in the overthrow while Skip blubbers to Mr Potts to make them stop and Mr Potts tells Skip not to make a summer camp his whole life.

When Jane and Trent arrive to pick Daria up, another girl is just telling Daria she'd never known Daria was so cool all along. Jane gets Daria's goat by asking if she can wear her Miss Camp Grizzly sash when they get home. On the way back, Trent makes up a song about the lame potato chips and Mystik Spiral has its inspiration back. Quinn in the meantime has been reduced to taking a ride home from Skip, trying to silence Skip's incessant rant.

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