An interview with the creators of Daria
How a rag-tag group of writers, voice actors, and animators cobbled together MTV's first 'girl hit' and the longest-running animated series in the network's history.
In the summer of 1994, MTV needed Daria. The network was basking in the success of Beavis and Butt-Head, the iconic Mike Judge creation about a couple of dopey metal-heads who obsessed over music videos and explosions––but while it seemed like every young boy in the world was watching, hardly any girls were tuning in. That's where Daria Morgendorffer came in—a quick sketch on the back of a paper plate that became a recurring Beavis and Butt-Head character and, eventually, the star of a standalone series.
Daria was put together by Harvard-educated Lampoon alum Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis, who spent her days at Temple University doodling MTV logos on notebooks until a classmate suggested she get an internship at the network. His book smarts combined with her street smarts and pop culture knowledge, in a dynamic not dissimilar to that of Daria and her best friend, Jane Lane. They made their project work without a singular creative mastermind like Judge, who wanted nothing to do with the spin-off and was on his way out the door to bigger (and much more lucrative projects) with Fox anyway.
Daria ended up being the longest-running show to come out of MTV's Animation department, surpassing even Beavis and other cultural touchstones like Celebrity Deathmatch. Although MTV would go on to produce other great cartoons, many lasted no more than one season, and none were able to replicate Daria's success. In light of Daria turning 20 on March 3, I called up all the people behind the deadpan smart-aleck classic to ask how it got made, and why MTV will probably never have another animated mega-hit.
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