Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#405 (4-44), "The F Word"

MDRR #405 (4-44)

Failure? Feh! - Any assignment whose main goal is to fail on purpose should be seen for exactly what it is, as Daria and Jane concluded, a colossal waste of time. I would agree that sometimes people need to be brought down a peg by messing up big time (I think I did a rant on this subject, along the lines of "can anyone be too successful," but thatís way off topic). However, setting oneself up for guaranteed failure is more than likely going to end up leading to depression, or at least a severe lack of confidence. This has got to be the dumbest piece of homework Iíve ever imagined, but, as Iíve seen a few people mention, I wouldnít be too surprised if stuff like this is being assigned in actual classrooms.

Fantastic - When Daria saw the Fashion Club walk by and proclaimed that "she knew what to fail at," or words to that affect, I thought that she was going to try to fail at being in that club (it turned out Janeís "project" came a bit closer). I thank the television gods that that course wasnít taken (it would have been too easy, not to mention vomit inducing). However, this was one of the few times that what I thought would happen didnít happen.

Frustration - Jodie and Mack seemed to be the best (or at least the quickest) at failing. Admittedly, Mack chose an easy one; I bet every other teacher at Lawndale knows that itís easier to teach a dead dog new tricks than teach Kevin anything. As for Jodie, I feel her pain. She really needs the summer off! If her parents are really that bad, they are setting themselves up for a rebellion. Itís just a matter of time, now.

Fresh Face - Jane is so unconventional that she would definitely fail at being conventional, right? Yeah, Iíd think so too. But after scaring the heck out of her brother, best friend and significant other, she seemed to get into it. It really is easy for her to fit in, which may be why she chooses not to (besides the popular people sheíd have to deal with). It took the chance of almost becoming a cheerleader to bring her back.

False Alarm - Dariaís personal road to failure was right on track, until the plan produced some unwanted side effects. There was no way Quinn would really be grounded, and if she did then fine. It turned out that she did fail (thatís good, I think) but ended up paying the price by having to money-sit Quinn. Fortunately, she (or more accurately, Jane) had a back up plan.

False Motives - As for that plan, I canít help but think that Jane genuinely wanted to help Mr. OíNeill, but thought she needed Dariaís help. So she sort of made the promise to Daria that they could get Mr. OíNeill to do something for them (namely, take Dariaís place following Quinn around for a day), if they helped him. It seemed to work well enough.

Finally! - One of the ironies of the aforementioned assignment is how Mr. OíNeill actually went through it without noticing. Of course, he wasnít trying to fail, but youíd think heíd at least be able to see what was happening. Hopefully (but I doubt it), he grew to learn that giving assignments like that isnít a good idea.

I had a kind of mixed reaction to this episode. It was good to see Daria back in that old-school form that is what the show was originally built on. You know, the way Daria would get screwed over for most of the episode and then marginally come out ahead at the end. We could probably use more episodes like this overall. Moving down the line, we have Jane, who flourished while trying to complete her assignment. She did get caught up in it and went a little too far by almost really trying out for cheerleading (I think that started as a joke for her own amusement). However, there were a lot of parts about this episode that kept it down. First, Iím starting to grow tired of the "ensemble" episode that have, up to this point, been endemic of season four. While I probably shouldnít penalize The F Word for that, Iím going to anyway. The name of the show is Daria not Lawndale High (just make sure you all say a prayer that Kevin and Brittany donít have prominent roles in every episode from here on out). The other problem I had was that most of the episode felt telegraphed to me. For instance, as soon as I saw the other cheerleaders sitting by themselves at Pizza King, I knew that somehow Jane was going to be asked to join the squad. Overall, couldíve been better, couldíve bee a lot worse.

Grade: B-

Daria as a Whole #1, Alter-Ego of the Week - My favorite was momma bird Helen feeding baby bird Jakey. Also, Tom got his first alter-ego, so I guess heís not going anywhere (not that I want him to go).

Daria as a Whole #2, Fantasy - This is the second time that Kevin and Jane have been hooked up in someoneís mind (the first was in Write Where It Hurts). <fake outrage> Is this someoneís idea of a sick joke? </fake outrage> Actually, it is sort of funny, but at the same time scary. Very scary.

Copyright © 2000 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].

"Daria" and all related characters are © 1997-2000 MTV Networks, Inc.