To write a story that focuses on Kevin – a daunting task. The show’s writers have taken it on from time to time, and produced mediocre results. Perhaps this is why, I must admit, the winner for this category didn’t have much competition. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not good.
Winning the coveted “Kevin Award” on its own merits, despite the lack of competitors, is…
“THE EDUCATION OF DUMBER-THAN-A-TREE”
To begin with, this story is hilarious. Humor is the driving force behind this one, as our beloved Lawndaliens spout one-liners and colorful commentary like it’s silly string. Jane, in particular, has a line which I think may be the single funniest thing she’s ever said (I have got to stop reading these stories in crowded rooms, people are starting to look at me.)
But let’s look at the portrayal of Kevin, which is after all what the award is being given for. Writing about Kevin is easy – just make him stupid. Writing about Kevin and making the reader care about him, that’s hard. John Berry does it to an extent that hasn’t been done before or since. The following questions are posed:
Does Kevin know how dumb he is?
Does he care?
What if he was forced to care?
And, most of all, what if he lost everything that ever meant anything to him? To what depths would he sink to get it back?
Finally, at the end of this humbling experience, is it possible that even Kevin might grow a little?
John Berry proves that it is possible to write such a story about Kevin and keep him the quintessential Kevin. Berry’s Kevin is just barely smart enough to get himself in trouble, like when he realizes that only Daria can help him get out of the mess he’s in. Or, when he reaches the conclusion that since he’s sunk into unpopularity, only a similarly unpopular girl will go out with him (namely, our reluctant Heroine).
Little pearls of humor include Daria’s final loss of patience with this moron, the polygraph scene, the bitching contest between Daria and DiMartino.
Read this story, and read the rest of John Berry’s stuff, and wonder why some of these people aren’t being hired by MTV to write episodes.
"The Education of Dumber-Than-A-Tree" can be found at Outpost Daria here