Is It College Yet?

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Created by Susie Lewis and Glenn Eichler as a spin-off of Beavis and Butt-Head, Daria (1997-2002) was one of the seminal television shows of the late nineties. Daria, with its dark humor and emotional resonance, helped shape the culture of a generation. Daria, which originally aired on MTV, was one of the truly iconic shows of its time and continues to find new fans even today. When Lewis and Eichler decided the show would end, audiences bid farewell to the beloved residents of the fictional suburban town of Lawndale with the television film Is It College Yet? (2002).

Directed by Karen Disher, Is It College Yet? was the second of two television films that resolved major character arcs from the show Daria. Is It College Yet? is ostensibly the series finale of Daria, following Daria, Jane Lane, Jodie Landon, and Tom Sloane as they navigate their farewells to high school and prepare for college. Like many episodes of the show, Is It College Yet? features a handful of subplots involving secondary characters that create a tableau-like portrait of nineties suburban adolescence. Is It College Yet? accomplishes this task far more efficiently than the earlier film Is It Fall Yet? which lacked the intersecting storylines that made the show such a strong ensemble piece.

The genius of Daria as a concept is that, by making the show an ensemble piece, it could examine the social patterns and sense of causality that teenagers and their parental counterparts share while also exploring how economic and social status inform these relationships. In Is It College Yet? the manic energy of Jake Morgendorffer that is mirrored in Quinn Morgendorffer’s vapidity gives way to the practicality and maturity of Helen Morgendorffer. It’s these parallels that are hilariously provocative and relatable.

However, the most resonant aspect of Is It College Yet? is how the film tackles the economic distinctions between characters based on their college selection. Nepotism lands Tom his place at Bromwell University while the less affluent Jane must put in a lot of agonizing work to secure a spot at BFAC. These differences in privilege ultimately lead Daria to break-up with Tom just as they seemingly bring their counterparts Jodie and “Mac” closer together. Of course, being a comedic cartoon, none of this is all that subtle but it doesn’t make the emotional provocations any less affecting.

Sentimentality, which is so often on the menu for films dealing with graduations, was always avoided on Daria. Is It College Yet? breaks with this trend when Jane and Daria both end up getting into schools in Boston and pledge to get pizza together on weekends. It’s a small hopeful gesture that is as much of a happy ending as could be expected from such a cynical show. It may seem somewhat incongruous but it resolves the arc of Daria and Jane’s friendship as well as offering some comfort to those viewers just setting out for life at college.