Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pinch Sitter


Daria is roped into taking Quinn's babysitting job in the hopes that she can use her experience to complete her history essay.

The review for "the Lab Brat" can be read here.

One could argue that Daria's (Tracy Grandstaff) acceptance of a babysitting job is in avoidance of her mother's (Wendy Hoopes) group meeting, but that would still be only trading one group of people for another; the truth of the matter is that, since coming to Lawndale, Daria has become progressively more comfortable with the idea of being around people. During her night at the Guptys, Daria learns to relate to children in a way that she has never tried before, and appears to gain a new appreciation for their innocence and malleability.

Quinn (Hoopes) is so often manipulative of the boys around her that it's rare to see anyone actually resist her charms, so for Ronnie to go from asking Quinn on a date to refusing her advances is an interesting choice. Quinn describes Ronnie as "nice" and "sincere" in her efforts to pawn her babysitting duties off on him, and while he very clearly is falling under her spell before those words, he suddenly snaps to his senses, stating that "[she's] never going to date [him, is she?]" to which she casually responds "no." She is shocked to find that Ronnie continues to refuse her, despite her promise that she would still consider him a friend, and I enjoy that there are still boys in this town that have a backbone in regards to her.

Throughout the evening Daria has very little interest in the Gupty children, as they do in her, but through Jane's (Hoopes) intervention, the duo are able to win them over. In infusing their own ending into the kids' bedtime stories, Daria and Jane open their eyes as to the possibilities that lay before them, revealing that Cinderella could have skipped the ball and asked her Fairy Godmother to make her the first female president, and that the little engine that could might have realized that he wasn't the competitive type and simply called it a day. This message upturns everything the Gupty parents had taught their children, giving them a new lease on life, and allowing Daria an opportunity to rethink her school essay. At the close of the story we learn that Daria had used her night's experience to write a paper entitled "a Real Life Experiment in Mind Control Deprogramming: My Night at the Guptys," which earns her a stellar mark, despite Mr. DeMartino's (Marc Thompson) reservations regarding it's ethical legality.

Quinn convinces Daria to babysit by telling her she could get paid to do her homework, and the desire to be out of the house is later strengthened by Helen's insistence that her daughters attend her marriage counseling seminar. Not only had Daria already been paid to do homework, but she was, in fact, paid by Quinn to do Quinn's homework, and while it's a nice nod to continuity it's also indicative of Daria's ease with getting her work done regardless of incentive. As for her mother's seminar, it would have been all too easy for Daria to say that she and Jane were having a study session, allowing her to spend the night watching television with her best friend instead of sitting on children.

Helen recalls a time when Quinn had booked three dates on one night, and all the boys showed up to the house at once, but her issue here is that her daughter is severely disorganized when she should be more worried about whether or not Quinn's ready to date yet. Hers is a situation that requires some parenting, and for Helen to ignore her daughter's potential promiscuity, especially in light of what Quinn's behavior could have people thinking about Helen herself, seems out of character. Helen is able to manipulate her daughter into attending a session with a time management planner, telling her to think of the experience as a kind of makeover, thus allowing her to schedule her dates more properly. While this does, indeed, lead to Helen's goal of having her daughter lead a more organized life, it also leads to a more detailed list of Quinn's planned indiscretions that Helen never once tries to look into, which might have made the conflict of this episode somewhat more interesting.

While the actors have, for the most part, gotten their regular characters down fairly well, there are still a few who voice more than one person who are still searching for that other voice. Thompson, who plays Kevin and Chuck to perfection at this point, also plays teacher Anthony DeMartino, and hasn't quite gotten the hang of his tics, over-pronouncing certain syllables in a way that seems somewhat forced but otherwise providing a very entertaining presence in Daria's life. Sarah Drew voices Tricia Gupty with a tinge of fear in her voice, which may or may not be intentional, and it creates a sense of a home controlled by Mr. Gupty through fear, though that doesn't seem like the direction the writers had wanted.

While Karen Disher's direction allows a brief series of flashbacks to how horribly Daria and Quinn had tormented each of their previous babysitters, most of the action is focused on Daria's present day struggle with the Guptys. What makes the experience interesting is that the Guptys are the complete opposite of everything Daria and Quinn were to their watchers, and the pair have a keen determination to follow absolutely everything left on their parents' schedule. The issue I take with this is that Quinn doesn't seem the type that would have strictly followed such a lackluster schedule, and I can't imagine that they would have loved her quite as much as they claim to here.

Anne D. Bernstein writes a near-constant struggle between Helen Morgendorffer and her daughters, with Quinn and Daria's use of their mother's own words against her, in "a commitment's a commitment," bringing a mixture of pride and annoyance to Helen's heart. Quinn quickly twists her daily planner into a dating evaluation system, recording that "convertibles get bonus points," and taking the opportunity to plan as far as her break up with her new boyfriend, which is in no way what Helen would have wanted Quinn do to with her planner, but there's absolutely no other way Quinn ever would have used it. There are also some nice moments with the Guptys, where the kids will alter their song to facilitate their record skipping and act as though it's simply part of their night, and their later confusion as Daria asks if "[they] always do everything adults say/what if two adults tell [them] opposite things?"

Daria's crush on Trent (Alvaro J. Gonzalez) remains evident as she slams the door shut when Jane calls him over to see Daria's ridiculous hair, and Quinn's love of planning her life, organizing her schedule, hints toward a desire for structure in her future, though I could be misreading that.

The review for "Too Cute" can be read here.


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