Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I Don't


Helen's familial issues are on full display when Daria and Quinn are made bridesmaids at their cousin's wedding, providing Daria with the perfect opportunity to bond with Helen's sister Amy, the black sheep of the family.

Previous: Quinn the Brain

Daria (Tracy Grandstaff) has always been the odd man out in her family, so the prospect of a gathering with extended family is all the more horrifying for her. Not only is Daria forced to attend the function, but she's made an intricate part of it against her will, and becoming something of a slave to the whims of relatives is surely not the way to ingratiate them to her.

Helen's (Wendy Hoopes) youngest sister Amy (Rita Pietropinto) walks onto the scene speaking incredibly bluntly to everyone around her, effectively setting herself apart from the rest of the group. When questioned by her sisters about the fact that she wasn't expected to come to the wedding, Amy responds that "[she] figured if [her two sisters] could put aside all the years of resentment, so could [she]," setting the antagonistic tone for the rest of the evening. Part of the trouble that Daria has with most of her family is that they're so constantly passive-aggressive to one another, but in Amy she's able to relate to the sardonic wit of someone who speaks exactly what's on her mind no matter the consequences. Amy certainly isn't a saint in the matters of familial squabbles here, but she offers Daria an alternative to the rest of the Morgendorffer clan that has been sorely missing in her life.

Throughout the narrative Helen's facade slowly breaks down until she's simply unable to compose herself when in the presence of her sisters. Helen has been shown so consistently as capable of dealing with anything that comes her way, so to see her here being absolutely out of control of the situation allows the writers a chance to explore a side of her that rarely sees the light of day. Her short temper only fuels the fires dividing the sisters, and while it's an unfortunate sight to see, it's very realistic to how some siblings relate to one another, especially when their parents quite obviously play favorites.

At one point Daria comments on the fact that Quinn (Hoopes) is paired with the traditionally attractive escort when she is paired with the socially-inept groomsman with awkward features. The comment itself is not at all distracting, given that it's a running theme of the series that Daria is made to deal with being classed into an outcast society, but the script also contains a running joke about people mistaking Daria's dress as being different than the rest of the bridal party's gowns. The fact that the dress hangs differently on Daria is a joke that already makes little sense given that there was a tailor working on her fitting, but it serves only to point out how much less attractive she is than everyone else at the wedding, and the story edges dangerously towards becoming a pity party. It's a given that Daria doesn't spend as much time on her looks as her sister does, but the constant reminders throughout this story are heavy-handed and poorly executed.

Several times the scene cuts away to Quinn flirting with the aging minister, and when it seems as though he's going to realize his mistake and question her age before continuing, he instead very clearly acknowledges her youth and eventually fights a teenage boy over her. I have no idea what the age of consent is in Lawndale, but there's no doubt in my mind that a controversy would be stirred were Quinn to go to another adult to make a complaint.

Voiced by Paul Williams, Mac sounds vastly different from his previous appearances, sporting now a much softer tone in his voice, and it just doesn't feel right, distracting from most of his speaking scenes. Janie Mertz's Brittany also goes beyond her normal shrill to reach a new level of ear-piercing madness that's not much appreciated here.

Director Tony Kluck introduces the notion that Helen and her sisters are simply incapable of functioning properly around one another, opening the story with Helen furiously doodling, then destroying, drawings as she speaks on the phone to her sister, while also making nasty quips throughout the entire conversation. What's interesting is that, while Helen is perfectly willing to comment on how she hopes her niece isn't rushing into marriage, and also stating that "[she] assume[s their] mom's footing the bill," she's more than slightly shocked when Amy makes similar comments. The difference between Amy's approach and that of her sisters is that Amy owns up to everything that she says, letting everyone know her feelings about the matters at hand, while Helen and Rita (Barbara Soehner) make obvious hints towards their feelings but quickly back-peddle when questioned about them.

Peter Gaffney loses focus partway into his script, adding a bridal show at the high school in order to tie Brittany, Kevin (Marc Thompson), Mac and Jodie (Jessica Cydnee Jackson) into the story when they would have been better off left out. The bridal show has literally no consequence on the overall story, adding nothing to the main plot while simultaneously giving the characters involved nothing to do. The scenes apart from the wedding hinder the episode's progress, and the lack of time devoted to the main plot of the story makes it seem as though the issues at the wedding have escalated far more quickly than they should have. Most of the resolution takes place off screen, robbing the viewer of any sense of closure, and it just seems like a waste of an outing when the characters have made no progress whatsoever beyond what happens when the cameras are off.

By being incredibly sarcastic and disconnected from her sisters, Amy has, ironically, shown Daria that there is another member of her family that she can relate to. While Daria and Quinn's relationship isn't as healthy as their parents might like it to be, it's nowhere near as toxic as that of Helen, Rita and Amy, giving hope to the idea that the two of them might get along at some point in the future.

Next: That Was Then, This is Dumb


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