Teen magazine editor Val arrives in Lawndale to spend a day with Daria, the surprise (and surprised) winner of the magazine's essay contest. Daria is less than enthused about spending time with the narcissistic teen-wannabe, but is convinced to go along with it by Jane, who dreams of traveling to New York City.
Val, the editor of the teen magazine Val, arrives in Lawndale to spend a day with Daria, whose essay was submitted to the magazine's "Spend a Day With Val" contest by Mr. O'Neill. Daria is, shall we say, less than enthused, as she believes Val is essentially a narcissistic opportunist making money off the confusion of teenagers and foisting her own shallow beliefs on them; Jane, however, convinces her to go along with it, saying that the experience could be an opportunity to snag a trip to New York City. As such, Daria endures Val's incessant chatter and over-the-top efforts to fit in with the youth culture she supposedly represents. Finally, Daria can take no more, and essentially tells the grownup Fashion Club wannabe that she should "stop embracing the teen within and start embracing the 30-something without," grow up, and start doing more to help today's youth with their problems instead of adding to them. Enraged, Val leaves and, upon returning to New York, writes an article for Val about "today's underground bummer culture"... with Daria as the "anonymous" subject of the article.
Historical & Cultural References:
- The title of the episode is a play on the "lost boys" (the boys who never grew up) from James Barrie's Peter Pan. (Appropriate, as Val refuses to acknowledge her age, preferring instead to pretend she's as young as her magazine's readers.)
- Val and her magazine are likely based on Jane Pratt and her New York-based magazine, Jane. There are too many parallels for it to be a coincidence, including the lame use of slang, the constant name-dropping, and claiming to be clued in to the younger generation.
- References are made to various young people in the entertainment industry, including Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio ("Leo"), Drew Barrymore, Fiona Apple, Neve Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow ("Gwynnie"), Winona Ryder ("Noni"), and Skeet Ulrich.
- The title of Daria's essay, "My So-Called Angst," is a pun on the TV series My So-Called Life (which has often been compared to Daria).
- This episode officially introduces Sandi's last name ("Griffin"), which was first revealed in The Daria Database.
- The dining room in the Morgendorffer house is seen for the first time. Based on what we've seen in previous episodes, the only place it could be located is between the garage and the kitchen... a location that can't possibly work because, in The Lab Brat (#107), we can see the kitchen directly from the garage! (Unless, of course, the house is actually a TARDIS...)
- One has to wonder how this episode ever made it to air, since it essentially adds up to one giant slam of the "MTV culture!"
Jane - I'm sorry, your name again?
Mr. O'Neill - We won, Daria. We won! (hugs Daria)
Daria - Lawsuit.
Mr. O'Neill - Sorry! (quickly lets go)
Quinn - "Spotlight: Lawndale Fashion Club - A Val Magazine Special Photo Spread." What do you think?
Daria - I think the world's gone mad. Mad, I tell you.
Quinn - Before that, that grunge, Seattle was just another city in our nation's capital.
Daria - Wrong Washington.
Quinn - Yes, grunge was wrong, but you can't blame the whole state.
Daria - Welcome to Lawndale, where style meets substance and says, "see ya!"
Jake - "Edgy..." I keep hearing that word from my clients. Everyone wants "edgy." What is it?
Val - "Edgy" is going right up to the edge of the cliff and being able to see all the way down, and dancing anyway.
Jake - What the hell does that mean?
Helen - Jake, honey, is this mint in here?
Jake - Yeah! Fresh sprig!
Quinn - Um, was she a little old for that outfit?
Daria - She's a little old for that brain.
Val - Hey, Daria, why is everyone wearing blue and yellow?
Daria - It's School Colors Day. Just a random event inspired by school spirit. It's got nothing to do with your visit, which, of course, is a huge secret.
Val - You should have told me! I want to fit in while I'm here. (dials phone)
Daria - Therein lies the difference between us.
Daria - Oh, gee, Brittany. I'm glad I ran into you. I've decided to try out for the cheerleading squad. Would you mind sponsoring me?
Brittany - Um... sure thing, Daria.
Daria - Nope, they're not acting differently at all.
Daria - Hey, how come you're not wearing blue and yellow?
Brittany - It's School Colors Day, Daria!
Kevin - Yeah. We're not colorful enough for you?
Daria - It's my own fault for getting lured into conversation.
Val - People still think I'm, like, 16. When Drew and I go out clubbing I'm always the one who gets carded.
Daria - These clubs -- are they very, very dark?
Jane - So, you finally managed to shake Gidget, huh?
Daria - No one can survive an assault by the Fashion Club.
Val - Yo, there's my girlfriend, got to go! Dar!
Jane - No one of our world, you mean.
Val - Daria, you're taking notes, right?
Ms. Li - Yes, Daria, this is an educational opportunity for you.
Daria - Oh, I'm learning quite a bit.
Val - I am Val, as in Val. I am Val, as in Val.
Val - Are you getting this, Dar? Why don't you read me back your notes?
Daria - Okay. "What am I doing here? How am I going to get through this? Dear God, help me."
Val - I am a role model! I'm in touch with the teen within.
Daria - Why don't you get in touch with the 30-something without?
Jodie - Hey, Daria, did you see the latest Val?
Jane - "My Day With D.: A disturbing true-life look at America's underground bummer culture." Wonder what this could be about.
Jodie - I'm afraid everyone's going to know that's you, Daria.
Daria - Hey, I'm jiggy with it.
Delayed Reaction Review
Secrecy? Yeah, Right:
Wasn't the whole point of Val coming to visit the contest winner to see things from their point of view? If everyone knows that she's there, the purpose of her visit is defeated. Ms. Li and Mr. O'Neill seemed to be responsible for some of the leaks. Ms. Li is more interested in recognition for the school and herself and made some changes that day that said, at the very least, that something was happening. Val isn't blameless, either, since her office confirmed to the local news that Val was there (she wasn't too upset that they didn't listen to her). She also seemed like the type who likes living in the spotlight. Her visit was one of the worst kept secrets in Lawndale history.
The Poseur, Outside of Its Natural Habitat:
Val seems to be one of those people to avoid at all costs. Excuse me for sounding similar, but she doesn't quite get it, whatever it is. Despite talking about how cool Daria is, she is oblivious to almost everything that Daria does. She didn't realize that Daria was trying to poke holes through everything she stands for: Daria tells her that she "sucks the energy out of youth culture" and she compliments her on how smart a thing that was to say. She seems a bit too self absorbed to be running a major magazine.
Taking Advantage of a Bad Situation:
I admire Jane's approach to dealing with Val, even if she wasn't going to benefit directly from it. Her mission was to make Val's trip to Lawndale part of a bigger project by having Daria do a return visit to see Val's point of view in New York. She succeeded in subliminally planting the idea and then proceeded to plug away until Val relented, without even knowing what was happening. Unfortunately, Daria missed this opportunity (and the possibility of a sequel) by sabotaging all of Jane's hard work.
Respect My Authority!
Sandi doesn't take too kindly to popular strangers infringing on her turf, which was how she interpreted Val's presence. She was quick to criticize Val, to make herself feel big. Sandi was easily threatened, since Val didn't care one way or the other about anyone at Lawndale. Almost by extension, Sandi was taking a shot at Quinn, since we all know that she resents Quinn's presence.
Buzzwords of the Week:
Jiggy? Whack? Edgy? This episode is chock-full of funny buzzwords that have no real meaning. Even when Val describes "edgy," it didn't make any sense (which was the joke, I know). These are all words that some tragically un-hip people use to make themselves feel hip, and therefore more important.
Poisoning the Pie:
It took a lot of effort on Daria's part to get the attention of Val. In reality, Daria just kept pushing buttons until she got a reaction. Val is insecure about her age but she also doesn't seem to be able to handle any real problems. Daria's advice was the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back"; Val is too concerned with trying to be young that she is ignoring the "30-something without" (looked more like 40-something to me) and living in a fantasy world.
Part of the Problem:
I just realized that I've used Val fifteen times so far. Geez, it's contagious. I guess I should take my Valium.
This episode raised a red flag in my mind almost immediately: it seemed to be turning into another Fashion Club-esque episode. Fortunately, that didn't happen, and instead we got a look at the shallow nature of an individual who can't let go of the past or can't cope with growing older. Val was completely over the top, and I don't see how anyone like that could exist (there are people who have some of her traits, but that's different). However, I think I can also see another trend that was pushed into the background by Val. That would be Daria's general bitterness toward anything that could be remotely perceived as popular. She seems to be in the business of sabotaging anything that falls into that category. I'm not defending Val or her cronies (and I think Daria was right about them, by the way), but Daria should at least lighten up a little and realize that everyone's not going to think her way all of the time. It's not wrong for her to be critical and cynical, but she shouldn't have to go overboard to dispense her criticism, which is the impression that I got here. Daria didn't have to throw away a trip to New York, and could have gone without changing the way she thinks of Val (she even could have gotten in some more of those subtle barbs she's fond of). If I were to offer Daria some advice, I would say "stop sucking all the fun out of life and live a little."
The Bottom Line:
I'm still not sure if I liked this one or not, but without Val, this episode would be just another unedgy cog of this jiggy series (whatever that means).
Final Val Count:
Copyright © 1999 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved]. Used with permission. The views presented here are those of the author, and may or may not necessarily be those of Outpost Daria.