Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#512 (5-65), "My Night at Daria's"

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Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#512 (5-65), "My Night at Daria's"

MDRR #512 (5-65)

Slumber Party - The night begins with Daria and Tom sitting in the Morgendorffer's living room, each reading a thick book on some dry subject. All of the sudden, Quinn comes home and interrupts the solitude by bitching about her most recent date, and Daria and Tom are forced to retire to Daria's bedroom. They have to shut the door to reduce the noise from Quinn's boy band music. That move ensured that Helen and Jake, since they were out, had no idea that Tom was still there when they went to bed. Anyway, eventually the reading material got to Daria and Tom and they both nodded off to sleep. The hours passed by and at 4 AM, Tom wakes up and, to his astonishment sees that it's 4 AM. He wakes up Daria tells her that he's leaving and tries to get out of there as soon as humanly possible. Unfortunately, the timing of his escape was horrid. As soon as he was about to get out of the house, Jake comes rumbling down the stairs, drunk on sake and hungry because of his parasite (I'll get to that in the next section). Tom tries desperately to open the door, but it got stuck and the sound got Jake's attention. Jake, oblivious to the obvious implication at the time, helps Tom open the door and says goodbye to him. Then he goes back to bed and tells Helen what just happened. He might as well have set off an atomic blast, because Helen leaped up and darted into Daria's room to talk about it. Daria tells Helen what happened and Helen accepted her story, even though she probably didn't completely believe it ("Why else would Tom be sneaking out?" "...to avoid this lecture."). Daria says that she would tell Helen if something did happen (yeah, right) and Helen hoped that Daria would come to her to talk about it (not bloody likely). After all of this, Jake couldn't face Daria at all, or at least he couldn't talk to her.

Don't Eat There - On the night the above events occurred, Jake was at Tokyo Toby's, which is a sushi restaurant, to try to land a consulting gig. It seems as though he picked up a bug (a rather large one, at that) after eating Toby's sushi (Helen was spared by being smart enough not to eat any). He later decided to call Toby and give him a piece of his mind, until he found out that he got the job. As it turned out, Jake found out, as he was getting it removed, that this was the third similar bug to come out of Tokyo Toby's in the last two months. Jake finally called Toby to try to consult and suggest a new supplier and ended up arguing with Toby. At least that little parasite was able to restore communication between Daria and Jake by the end of the episode. That was no small feat.

How Rumors Start - Little did Daria know, but Quinn overheard Helen and Daria's little discussion the night Tom slept over and assumed, as a lot of people could, that Daria and Tom were "doing it." Quinn's irresistible urge to gossip got the better of her and she called Stacy immediately to dish the dirt. Of course, ten seconds later the whole world had heard about it. So, when Daria and Tom were spotted together at Pizza King, the "whole world" stated treating them weirdly. Upchuck welcomed them to "club l'amore," and Kevin and Brittany also got into the act as only they could. Daria didn't really get what was going on, so later that night she called Jane to find out. As soon as Daria called, Jane asks for some details, and that request (not to mention afraid of the implications Upchuck, Kevin and Brittany made) confuses Daria. Once Jane realized that Daria really had no idea what was going on, she explained about the rumor that was going around school, that Daria and Tom had slept together. Of course, Daria was shocked and suspected Quinn of starting the rumor. Quinn didn't deny it but blamed Stacy, who she had "sworn to secrecy." When Daria tried to tell Quinn that it wasn't true, Quinn got out of there, not wanting any details.

Debunking the Myth - Daria figured at first that the best way to dispel the floating rumor was to start a grassroots campaign to tell "the world" that it wasn't true. The first person she went to after Jane was Jodie. OK, she may have also been looking for some advice. Jodie believed Daria that the rumor was false but she also added "sex isn't something to be ashamed of if it's handled responsibly." Daria asks her if she's been "responsible" with Mack and she pleads the fifth (promising to tell Daria all about it as soon as her parents are dead). Later, Jane tries to reassure Daria that it'll all blow over soon enough, but that wasn't good enough for Daria. This bothered her more because it makes the assumption that people in relationships are automatically having sex and if they aren't, the relationship is somehow incomplete. Jane countered that if that were true, it would mean that their parents are still "doing it," and we know that can't be true. However, Daria did find a way to stop the rumor flow around her and Tom: by starting another rumor about someone more popular, namely Quinn and her Malaysian toenail fungus.

Do You Really Want To? Daria tells Tom about the rumor at Lawndale and he makes a couple of jokes about it at first (like the one about "starting it at [his] school") but Daria finally shares the same concern with him that she did with Jane. It doesn't really matter what others think; it's the implication that a couple needs the physical as well as the emotional to be really close that bothers her. The exchange that follows went a little like this:

          Tom: You said you weren't ready.
          Daria: Oh fine, take me at my word.
          Tom: That is what you said, correct me if I'm wrong, please.

It turns out that this has come up before for them and he backed off because she didn't want to go for it (though he could be "easily persuaded"). She then says that they should do it, but when he has a condom handy, it spooked her and she asks to just "forget about it." However, this isn't something that you can just forget about once it comes up (no pun intended). He didn't want to put any undue pressure on her, but he did want her to make up her mind, one way or the other. But even Tom had trouble talking about it once she decided to set a date and time. Sometimes it's easy to say you'll do something, but when the time comes to do that thing, it's anything but easy.

I Guess Not - After they picked a date and time to do the deed (which is odd in itself), we can see Daria stress about it (Tom seemed to be playing it cool, but we really didn't get to see him that much before the slotted time). While talking about how the new rumor had replaced the old one and left her sex life out of the gossip mill, Daria tells Jane about the plan and gets an offer of congratulations, but she seemed scared. When the time arrived, we see Tom getting ready for a romantic evening with flowers, music and everything else he thought he might need for what is supposed to come (again, no pun intended). Lo and behold, Daria stood him up, and when he tried to call her, she had Helen tell him she wasn't there. Daria then left him a break-up note and he was mad... that she dumped him without talking about it. When they did talk, Daria explained the feeling that by not "doing it," she was driving them apart. She was afraid that it would be overwhelming, not to mention her fear of letting him down. She's not ready but he is very content with the relationship and that's all that matters, for now.

Unintentional Laugh Line of the Week - That would have to be Tom's "I can't believe this" after Daria stood him up. He had to be the only one that didn't see that coming a mile away.

Okay, there it was: the dreaded sex episode. Talking about sex isn't something that most people are comfortable doing. I know I don't like to talk about it, even when I want to. The whole idea of talking about sex makes my heart race and my eyes twitch. Heck, even writing this review made me nervous. But that is the beauty of this episode: it took an issue that many people consider taboo but most people have to deal with and tries to make the characters (and the viewers) think about it rationally, without pushing it down anyone's throat. In effect, the uncomfortable was made comfortable. The method used to achieve this was so straightforward and simple that it was ingenious. We have Daria and Tom, who have been girlfriend and boyfriend for a while, finally coming to this point in their relationship and dealing with it (I was going to say "as best they could," but with Tom's "super-Romeo" act and Daria's indecision, I think they, as characters, could have done a little better). If I were going to offer any major criticism at all, it would be that none of this stuff has really come up before in any previous episode, keeping in mind that kissing and sex, while intimately related sometimes, can be two very different things. Then again, if the show weren't about to go off the air, this episode may have had to wait another season. Anyway, kudos to the writers and staff for pulling this off without making me go running and screaming in the opposite direction.

Grade: A-

 

Copyright © 2001 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].

"Daria" and all related characters are © 1997-2001 MTV Networks, Inc.