Yesterday MTV announced that they might be rebooting Daria. Many people are excited—the original show was popular in its day in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, and has continued to win over new fans ever since with its sardonic lead character and incisive look at American youth culture. If MTV is serious about capitalizing on its intellectual property with its new MTV Studios shingle, Daria’s about as good a pick as any to start with. (I mean, I’d go with Remote Control myself, but it just wouldn’t feel the same without Ken Ober.)
Times have changed a lot in the last 20 years, though. What was once unthinkable has somehow become a part of mainstream political discourse. The right has kept moving to the right, to the point where the party in charge of our government had no problem tearing families apart and keeping kids in cages just because of where they were born. The GOP is openly fueled by greed, contempt, and a callous, inhuman disregard for the lives and comfort of those who don’t look like them, and their president, whose name almost definitely appeared as a punchline at some point during Daria’s original run, openly praises fascists and human rights abusers while insulting our allies. The type of irony and cynicism that fueled Daria and her friend Jane feel quaint today, like luxuries that can no longer be afforded. As such any reboot might have to fundamentally recalibrate how these characters think and act, or risk looking out of touch.
And of course, there’s always a much darker potential direction for the new show.
Okay, so it’s unlikely Daria will go full Melania on us, no matter how much you used to think the cartoon character resembled VJ-turned-Fox-News-pundit Kennedy. A show where the ironic hipsters of the Clinton era turn into the trolls of the Trump decline would have a lot of truth behind it, of course—hell, if anybody ever makes a Gavin McInnes biopic, that’s basically what it’ll be—but might also be too on-the-nose, in a “Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac” way, for MTV. It’s safe to assume that this frightening future is simply a one-off tweet from a friend of mine, and not a direction that MTV would ever actually pursue, no matter how much sense it might make.