Okay, this was a tough one.
The “Daria Loves Trent” story is the cornerstone of Daria fanfic. I don’t know who was the first to post a Daria fanfic on the internet, but odds are that this was the plot. Doing research to give this award was pretty painful, because it’s safe to say that some of the shipper stories (I’m not saying which ones) are the rock-bottom WORST pieces of maggot-ridden camel dung it has ever been my misfortune to read. But, these little reviews aren’t about those stories, thank goodness.
This is about the Best of Shipper fiction. This is about a most enjoyable story. This is about the person who, in my opinion, gave us the finest example of that oft-written plotline of Daria and Trent sitting in a tree, and more than made up for my suffering through volumes of dreck.
The coveted award for the Best of Shipper fanfic goes to…
DIANE LONG’S “DARIA CONTINUUM”
In the end, there couldn’t only be one. Diane made a wise move when she spread Daria and Trent’s budding, maturing, and ultimately successful relationship over a series of stories. It’s believable and true to characterization, something very few shipper stories can say. Even as the series progresses into post-Lawndale High, it stays true to what we might expect of Daria and crew.
One of the best things about the series is that Trent and Daria don’t instantly mesh. These are two very different people, and what many fanfic authors miss is that a relationship between them is going to be rocky. Diane doesn’t miss this. Trent screws up from time to time, Daria overreacts to his faults, and they have some difficulties to get over. This is not only more credible but makes for a better story. What’s a romance without problems? I’ve remarked before that Tom has needed to call on almost superhuman reserves of patience to deal with Daria from time to time, and it seems Trent has to do the same.
Another difficulty facing the shipper author is that more often than not, Trent reaches some kind of epiphany about how he needs to become a better, more responsible person to be worthy of Daria’s affections. He then goes out and gets a job, cleans himself up, goes to community college, and becomes a fine, upstanding member of society. But what’s the point of bringing Daria and Trent together if he’s not Trent anymore? Diane’s Trent does a little maturing along the way, as one would expect, but he does it gradually, naturally, the way a person grows when they’re in a serious relationship. The important thing is: he remains, at the core, good ol’ irresponsible, oblivious Trent. Daria changes in a similar way, becoming slowly more able to express affection, not just to Trent but to others as well. But she remains Daria: emotionally repressed, sarcastic, a little abrasive, and striving desperately for control in her life.
Diane goes further than most shipper authors dare to, building Trent and Daria’s relationship over time, letting the initial glow wear off to the point where they have to start working at it to make it good for the long term. There’s uncertainty, second thoughts, problems, and betrayal. I wasn’t around at the time “Undone” was posted, but it makes for quite a cliffhanger that Diane was apparently slow to follow up on. Thank God I wasn’t around at the time – I don’t think I could have waited to see how it would turn out. How does it turn out, you may ask? Read the story.
Something else I noticed about this one is that if you read the last one first, you wonder why these people aren't acting like they should - but if you read them in order, it all makes perfect sense. That's the major strenth of this story, the fact that the characters grow and mature in unpredictable but very believable ways, and they do it so slowly that you hardly notice it. And isn't that, after all, what happens in real life?
Diane Long’s Daria Contiuum can be found at Outpost-Daria here