301: Through a Lens Darkly

Written by Glenn Eichler

(opening theme song)

(a red SUV is slowly driving down the road, occasionally lurching to a stop; inside, Helen is in the passenger seat, with Daria behind the wheel)

Helen - All right, Daria, don't start your turn till your front wheels are past the corner. That's it. Now, accelerate as you start to straighten... good. Watch out for the dog. Watch out, Daria!

(tires squeal as Daria slams on the brakes, throwing them both forward into their shoulder belts)

Daria - (frantic) Oh, my God, did I kill him? I never even saw him! I'm a dog killer!

Helen - Look, honey.

(dog barks and runs off)

Daria - (calmer) God, that was close.

Helen - No harm done.

Daria - I couldn't live with myself if I hit a dog. Would you mind telling Quinn I killed him?

(Helen is slammed back into the seat as the car lurches forward)

Helen - Didn't you see him? He came running right up on your side of the car.

Daria - I don't see way off to the side too well. My glasses sort of block the view.

Helen - I didn't know that. Isn't that a problem?

Daria - It is for dogs.

(in Daria's bedroom)

(Daria is sitting on the bed, watching television)

SSW Announcer - When he turned up his nose at accordion lessons, they cut off his inheritance malto allegro. "The Severed Pianist," next on Sick, Sad World.

(knocking)

Daria - Enter.

(Helen enters the room)

Helen - Daria?

Daria - Correct.

Helen - You know, I was thinking about your peripheral vision.

Daria - That's really strange. I was thinking about your high-frequency hearing.

Helen - How would you feel about trying contact lenses?

Daria - Poorly.

Helen - Why? (sits on bed)

Daria - Because there's nothing wrong with wearing glasses.

Helen - But what about that dog today?

Daria - Exactly. If he'd had his glasses on he would have seen the damn car and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Helen - Daria, I just think that your field of vision could really be enhanced...

Daria - Come on, Mom. It's not my field of vision you want to enhance.

Helen - What do you mean?

Daria - We've had this conversation before. You think if I get contacts I'll suddenly turn into the homecoming queen.

Helen - Daria, give me some credit. You can still wear your glasses. Nobody's going to take them away from you.

Daria - But...?

Helen - But contacts are better for some things, like driving or sports.

Daria - You mean I'll finally make the wrestling team?

Helen - (exasperated) Daria, you can't possibly have some ethical issue with wearing contacts.

Daria - How about thinking people should accept me for who I am without my having to change?

Helen - Right! They should accept you for who you are: a complex and interesting young lady worth knowing, instead of seeing your glasses and jumping to some moronic conclusion based on ridiculous stereotypes and their own ignorance.

Daria - Mmm, good one.

(in Jane's bedroom)

(Jane is painting while munching on a tube of cookie dough; Daria is lounging on the bed, reading a book)

Daria - I almost killed a dog yesterday.

Jane - Gonna work your way up to humans slowly?

Daria - During my driving lesson. Now my mother's bugging me about contacts again.

Jane - Boy, she just doesn't get it, does she?

Daria - Nope, she really doesn't. (pause) Get what?

Jane - You! The whole Daria Morgendorffer persona. You don't care what people think about your looks.

Daria - Of course not.

Jane - The glasses are you. They're symbolic of the whole Daria thing. (imitates Daria) "I wear glasses and I'm not going to apologize for it." (takes a bite of cookie dough)

Daria - Yeah... exactly. Of course, you don't wear glasses, so from your point of view, it's all theoretical.

Jane - (around mouthful of cookie dough) What?

Daria - Pass the cookie dough.

(in Quinn's bedroom)

(Quinn is in front of her mirrors, comparing different scarves)

Quinn - Caramel... plum... of course, black is always good...

(knock at door)

Quinn - Come in!

(Daria enters the room)

Quinn - Daria? What are you doing here?

Daria - Nothing. Just passing by. Saw your light on.

Quinn - What are you talking about?

Daria - Uh, Quinn, could I ask...

Quinn - Yes? A question? A favor?

Daria - Could I ask your opinion on something?

Quinn - (whirls around, suspicious) What? Is this a trick? What's the catch? Why don't you ask your friend Jane?

Daria - Jane can't help me. I need to speak to someone more attuned to matters of... appearance.

Quinn - ("can't believe what she's hearing") You're asking my advice, aren't you?

Daria - Quinn, please, this is hard enough.

Quinn - I always knew this day would come and wondered how it would be. Yet, now that it has, I feel strangely... serene. Sit down, Daria. I can help you.

Daria - Who said I need help? (sits on bed)

Quinn - Daria, if we're to make any progress at all you must be absolutely honest with me. Now, when did you first begin to suspect that your outfit sucked?

Daria - It's not my outfit.

Quinn - Okay, when did your "friend" first begin to suspect that your outfit sucked?

Daria - Suppose you were well known for not caring what other people think of you, and then suddenly you did something that showed maybe you do care a little about what other people think of you. Would that invalidate everything you'd done and said up till then and make you a hypocrite?

Quinn - Daria, you're giving me a headache!

Daria - What would you think if I got contacts?

Quinn - Contacts? Great! But what color were you thinking? Because clear ones don't call attention to themselves so much, which maybe you want. But then, who could resist being able to change their eye color at will...

Daria - Wait a minute! I--

Quinn - Blue goes with just about any outfit, but green adds that touch of exotica that many young women crave...

Daria - Hang on, all I asked was--

Quinn - Then, of course, you'll want to change your hair to frame your new face, a decision unto itself -- and obviously a new wardrobe.

Daria - Aaah! (runs out of room as fast as she can)

Quinn - Daria, wait! I know you're scared. We'll start slow with some scrunchies. (chases after her)

(in the Morgendorffer dining room)

(Daria is eating cereal and Jake is engrossed in the newspaper as Helen enters the room, holding a piece of paper)

Helen - Oh, that sister of mine. She's as twisted as a corkscrew.

Jake - Mmm.

Daria - Damn siblings.

Helen - Honestly, I think the only reason she ever gets in touch at all is so that she can get under my skin.

Jake - Mmm.

Daria - Damn subdermal irritants.

Helen - I mean, listen to this note she sent when she was in Hawaii: "Dear sis, you'd love island life. Beautiful sun, wonderful people, umbrella drinks up the kahanalea. Only thing is, you'd have to take a vacation. Oh well, sorry I brought it up. My love to all, Amy." God, isn't that annoying?

Jake - Mmm.

Daria - Damn subtle barbs.

Helen - Look at this picture of her smiling by the pool. Like she can even see the camera without her glasses. (leaves the room)

Daria - Aunt Amy? (gets up from table)

Jake - Mmm.

(at Aunt Amy's place)

(Amy's phone rings and she picks it up; split-screen between her and Daria)

Amy - Hello?

Daria - Aunt Amy?

Amy - Hey, my favorite niece.

Daria - Oh!

Amy - Who is this?

Daria - Um, it's...

Amy - I'm joking, Daria. How are you? Your mother hasn't had a stroke, has she?

Daria - Well, I haven't checked her in the last half hour. How was Hawaii?

Amy - Wish I were still there. What can I do for you?

Daria - Um, I wanted to ask your advice about something. I'm thinking about getting contact lenses.

Amy - Uh-huh, sounds good.

Daria - It does?

Amy - Why not?

Daria - Well, isn't it kind of... vain?

Amy - Do you have mirrors in your house, Daria?

Daria - Yeah.

Amy - Do you look in them before you go out?

Daria - Yeah.

Amy - Well, then, you're already going to hell, so you might as well get the lenses; you'll see the brimstone better.

Daria - What do you mean?

Amy - I mean, having contacts is no more vain than primping in the mirror. It just gives you different options about the way you look. It wouldn't change your personality, it wouldn't change your values, and it would set your parents back a couple hundred bucks. So, I don't see any downside at all.

Daria - Thanks, Aunt Amy.

Amy - I'd love to see how it turns out. Send me a picture, okay?

Daria - You want a picture of me with my contacts?

Amy - Either that or a shot of Ralph Fiennes. Whichever.

(Daria does one of her half-smiles at that)

(in the Morgendorffer living room)

(Daria is reading on the couch as Helen enters the room)

Helen - Daria?

Daria - Hmm?

Helen - I just want you to know that I was thinking about our conversation the other day, and I don't want you to believe for a second that I think you need contact lenses. You're beautiful inside and out, no matter what, and I understand and respect your objection to contacts, and there'll be no more discussions about it. Okay?

Daria - (sighs) All right, you talked me into it.

Helen - I did?

Daria - Mom, that reverse psychology of yours is killer.


(at the Lawndale Medical Arts Partners building)

(Daria is seated behind one of those big-ass eye gizmos as an ophthalmologist examines her eyes)

Doctor - So let's see, there's really nothing to worry about other than a slight risk of epithelial edema, possible concern over bulbar hyperemia, the outside chance of keratoconus and polymegethism, and the usual tiresome worries about giant papillary conjunctivitis.

Daria - Um, is there any chance my eyes won't fall out?

Doctor - There's no reason to expect any complications whatsoever if you wear your lenses according to instructions and take care of them properly. (lifts machine away from her face)

Daria - So if anything does go wrong, it's my fault?

Doctor - That'll be our position. Now, show me once again how you put the lens in.

(Daria sits at a table with contact lenses and eyewash; she preps the lens, then raises the lens to her eye with a shaky finger)

Doctor - That's it. Right up against the eyeball.

(Daria's scream as the lens hits her eye can be heard from the Moon)

(at Jane's house)

(a very sleepy Jane opens the door to reveal Daria, sans glasses)

Daria - Ready?

Jane - Mmm.

Daria - Okay then, time to go.

Jane - Mmm.

Daria - You're not really much of a morning person, are you?

Jane - (peers closely at Daria) Where are your glasses?

Daria - I'm not wearing them.

Jane - Huh?

Daria - I got contacts.

Jane - Hmm.

Daria - I hope this isn't going to change your opinion of me. I hope you don't think I've changed or compromised or become a shallow person who only cares about their looks. Because it would really bother me if you thought that.

Jane - No, I don't think anything like that.

Daria - Good.

Jane - (peers at her again) Where are your glasses?

(Daria rolls her eyes, knowing that this is going to take a while)

(at school)

(Daria and a now-awake Jane are walking down the hallway)

Daria - Okay, so now that you're more or less awake, are you ready to tell me I've sold out?

Jane - You look pretty cool.

Daria - Oh, yeah? Then what did I look like before?

Jane - Hey, glasses, no glasses, either way works for me.

Daria - And you call yourself a friend. (enters classroom)

(in Mr. O'Neill's class)

Mr. O'Neill - Now, when he shed his regal vestments and began dressing as if he had no money, a very funny thing happened to the prince. What was that? Kevin?

Kevin - He became the poor guy formerly known as the prince?

Mr. O'Neill - Kevin, I must say I'm mystified by your continuing inability to absorb anything from this class.

Kevin - Um, is that bad?

Mr. O'Neill - I'm sorry to speak so harshly, Kevin, but I wouldn't do so if I didn't think you had the inner strength to hear and to heed.

Kevin - Thanks!

Mr. O'Neill - Brittany, how does the prince change in this story?

Brittany - He, um, he doesn't turn into a frog, does he?

Mr. O'Neill - (groans) Da... (looks right at Daria, but dosn't recognize her without her glasses) Oh, I wish Daria were here.

Daria - I'm here.

Mr. O'Neill - Daria, is that you? What happened to your glasses?

Daria - Um, I'm wearing contact lenses.

Mr. O'Neill - Good for you, Daria! What a positive gesture! You're taking command of your appearance and empowering yourself to carve your own identity.

Daria - Actually, I'm not sure that I want an identity based on appearance.

Mr. O'Neill - Of course not. The inner you, that's what's important. I just meant that a revised outer you is an even more confident manifestation of the unchanged inner you... the real you... the you-ness inside.

Daria - I got them for driving.

Mr. O'Neill - Excellent! So... why are you wearing them now?

(Ms. Li barges into the room)

Ms. Li - Class, I have some extremely disturbing news. Someone has apparently pilfered the school's fingerprinting kit. (notices Daria's lack of glasses) Ms. Morgendorffer?

Daria - It wasn't me. I much prefer fiber spectroanalysis.

Ms. Li - Did you get contact lenses?

Daria - Um, yes.

Ms. Li - Well done!

Daria - Excuse me?

Ms. Li - You're inviting your fellow students to get to know you a little better. You're dropping that standoffish persona. Kudos!

Daria - I got them for driving.

Ms. Li - Ah. So why are you wearing them now?

(Daria rolls her eyes in irritation)

(in the school hallway)

Kevin - I'm really psyched, babe. All that bench-pressing is paying off.

Brittany - Huh?

Kevin - Tone, babe. You heard what Mr. O said about seeing my inner strength.

Brittany - Um, babe, he was trying to say you're not getting any smarter.

Kevin - Oh... well, am I supposed to?

Brittany - Yeah, that's what school's for. (pauses at Kevin's confusion) From a teacher's point of view.

Kevin - Oh!

(at the other end of the hall, Daria and Jane are walking to their next class; Daria keeps rubbing her eyes)

Daria - Do you think contacts reveal the you-ness inside?

Jane - I don't know. Who's Eunice and why doesn't she get her own body?

Daria - Whoever she is, she must be very sad. I can't stop tearing up.

(they eventually run into Kevin and Brittany)

Brittany - Daria, I like your new look.

Daria - Um, thanks.

Kevin - Yeah, you're, like, practically normal.

Daria - Kevin, how come you always know just what to say?

Kevin - It's a gift. But why did you get contact lenses?

Daria - I wanted to fit in better.

Kevin - Cool!

Daria - I was afraid my glasses were making me too smart.

Kevin - Really? (mental gears start to turn, albeit very slowly)

(in the girl's bathroom)

(Daria is examining her eyes, which are now extremely bloodshot due to irritation from the lenses)

Jane - Yo, what's going on?

Daria - These contacts are itching the hell out of me. I've got to take them out, but I don't have my glasses.

Jane - Well, there's only two periods left. Can you hold out?

Daria - Guess I have to.

(walking home from school)

(Jane is guiding Daria down the street, as Daria isn't wearing her lenses or her glasses)

Jane - Big crack in the sidewalk coming up. You'll want to watch that. Look out for that branch. There's some kids coming. Never mind, they turned the corner.

(horn honks)

Daria - Who's that?

Jane - It's Trent.

(Daria's face immediately turns beet red)

Trent - Hey, Daria. Looks good. (drives away)

Jane - Now, watch out for the girl with the red face who's forgotten how to walk. Oh, never mind. That's you.

(Daria frowns at Jane)

(in Daria's bedroom)

(Daria is having a nightmare: she's in a carnival house of mirrors, her face distorted in every reflection; she takes off her glasses, and her face suddenly appears normal; she's relieved, until her reflections suddenly turn hideously ugly and deformed; that's when she wakes up, gasping)

(still in her nightclothes, Daria stumbles into the bathroom; she tries putting in one of her contact lenses)

Daria - Ow! (groans; her eyes are still too irritated) No contacts today.

(she then puts her glasses on, frowns at her reflection, then takes them off again)

Daria - No glasses, either.

(at Jane's house)

(Jane opens the door; Daria is there, sans glasses)

Jane - Hey, the contacts are back, huh? Your eyes must be feeling better.

Daria - Um, yeah, better. But, um... I'm still a little blurry.

(that's an understatement; from her POV, Jane's image is very blurry and unfocused)


(at school)

(Daria and Jane are walking down the hall to their next class, when Daria suddenly bumps into Andrea)

Andrea - Hey!

Daria - Sorry.

(Daria then bumps into Upchuck)

Upchuck - Ow!

Daria - Oh, uh, sorry, Upchuck.

Upchuck - Sweet Daria, you don't have to resort to a ruse to get into my personal space. All you need do is ask.

Daria - (frowns) Your personal space is the final frontier, Upchuck. One where I intend never to boldly go. (walks away)

Upchuck - You'll be back. They all come back.

Jane - Name two. (walks away)

Upchuck - I could!

(in the cafeteria)

(Daria stops short as she almost collides with another student)

Jane - Food-laden student at three o'clock. (sits down at a table across from Daria) Boy, you weren't kidding about still being blurry. You're walking into more people than you're walking by.

Daria - I'm sure my vision will clear up soon.

Jane - Well, if it doesn't work out you can go out for football.

Daria - Funny.

Jane - Hey, now's your chance to sign up.

(Kevin walks up to the table; he's wearing a pair of glasses)

Kevin - Hey, Daria, Jane. Notice anything different?

Daria - He's wearing glasses, right?

Jane - Why, yes, he's wearing glasses. Although, ironically, he doesn't need them. What's going on?

Kevin - Well, I got to thinking about what you said about glasses making you smart, Daria. And hey, you may not believe this, but I could stand to be a little smarter, so I got some.

Daria - You, a little smarter? Not possible.

Kevin - No, no, no. That's what I thought, too. But believe me, it is. You know, I don't want to be a brain or anything. I like having friends. So I got a pair without any lenses. See? (twirls glasses on his finger, which is poking through the empty lens) So now I'll be smart but not too smart.

Daria - Um, I'm not sure if it'll work without any lenses.

Kevin - Really?

Jane - Yeah. Why don't you try one lens and see how that goes?

Kevin - Great idea! Thanks.

Brittany - Oh, Mr. Einsteen!

Kevin - Brit really loves them. Gotta go. (walks away)

(Jane waves hand in front of Daria's face)

Daria - I can see that, funny gal.

Jane - (holds up two fingers) How many fingers?

Daria - I've got one for you.

Jane - You're not wearing your contacts at all.

Daria - Not if you want to get technical about it.

Jane - Okay, I get that they were irritating you so you thought you'd give them a rest.

Daria - Yeah.

Jane - But why no glasses?

Daria - Um, sheer vanity?

Jane - Yes, yes, very witty. Now, really. (sees look on Daria's face) Daria!

Daria - (buries face in hands) You hate me.

Jane - This is great! You want to borrow my lipstick?

Daria - Aaah! (gets up and runs out)

Jane - Hey, come on, Daria, wait!

(Daria bumps into Kevin)

Kevin - Ow!

Daria - Sorry.

(in the girl's bathroom)

(Jane walks into the bathroom; she glances at each stall to see if anyone's there)

Jane - Daria? (pause) Daria. (pause) Talking toilet? (sees Daria's boots in the last stall) Daria's boots, can you tell me where Daria is? (the boots rise up out of view as Daria stands on the toilet) Come on, Daria, what's the matter?

Daria - I'm a hypocrite and a phony. That's what's the matter.

Jane - What are you talking about?

Daria - (puts feet back on floor) You don't have to pretend. You said it yourself. The glasses are me, uncompromising and unconceited. Well, not anymore.

Jane - For God's sake, Daria, who told you you had to be a martyr to principle? You're a teenage girl, not Nelson Mandela.

Daria - He wears glasses.

(Jodie enters)

Jodie - What's going on?

Jane - Oh, it's Daria. She couldn't get her contacts in today and she didn't want to wear her glasses, so she's stumbling around and bumping into stuff.

Jodie - Are you okay, Daria?

Daria - No.

Jodie - What'd she hurt?

Jane - Her pride.

Daria - Thanks for respecting my confidence.

Jane - Hey, Jodie knows what it's like.

Jodie - What what's like?

Jane - To have standards too high to live up to.

Jodie - Don't tell me she's mad at herself for caring how she looks?

Jane - See?

Daria - No, actually, I can't see.

Jodie - Daria, what's wrong with admitting to a little vanity? You're not Mother Teresa, you know.

Daria - She wore glasses.

Jane - No, she gave them to an orphan.

(Brittany enters)

Brittany - Hey, what's going on?

Jane - Nothing.

Jodie - Everything's fine.

Brittany - So why are you talking to the stall? (sees Daria's boots) Oh. Hi, Daria.

Daria - Hi, Brittany.

Brittany - Is she locked in or something?

Jane - She's feeling a little alienated today.

Brittany - Alienated? Why, Daria? It's not like you're E.T. or somebody.

Jane - Did he wear glasses?

Brittany - By the way, Daria, I just want you to know I think it's really brave of you to get those contact lenses and admit that you care about the way you look, even just a little. Because knowing that a brain can be worried about her looks makes me feel, um, I don't know, not so shallow or something. Like we're not that different, just human, or whatever.

(after a moment, Daria emerges from the stall)

Daria - Well, thank you, Brittany. You're right. We are just human or whatever. (bumps into door and groans as she leaves)

Jodie - That was really nice, Brittany.

Brittany - It was?

Jane - I gotta admit, that was the right thing to say.

Brittany - Wow! (puts on cheap glasses with pink frames) These things really do work!

(at the pizza place)

(Daria and Jane are at their usual booth, sharing a pizza)

Jane - So now what, eagle eye?

Daria - Well, I can't wear my contacts until I see the doctor again, that's for sure. And if I bang into anyone else at school I'll be arrested for assault. So I guess it's back to the glasses tomorrow.

Jane - Or we go downtown and apply for a seeing eye dog.

Daria - I tell you the truth, this whole thing's got me very confused. I want my glasses back.

Jane - Are you still hung up on that vanity thing?

Daria - That's not it. Everyone already knows I'm vain.

Jane - Oh, yeah, you're one huge narcissist. So if not that, then what?

Daria - This is kind of hard to explain. It's like, I know my glasses set me apart. When I look in the mirror without them I can't see a thing. But when I put them on and look in the mirror again, I think...

Jane - Yeah?

Daria - I think to myself, "Never mind glasses. You can see things that other people can't. You can see better than other people. So to hell with them and what they think of you and your glasses."

Jane - You're not talking about eyesight anymore, are you?

Daria - No.

Jane - And you like that Daria better than the Daria who cares about her looks.

Daria - Um, yeah.

Jane - I don't blame you. Why settle for vanity when you can have pure egotism? You're a twisted little cruller, ain't you?

Daria - Yeah.

Jane - That's why I'm proud to be your friend.

(Daria and Jane tap their soda cups together in salute)

(later, Daria and Jane are walking home)

Jane - So, no more contacts. Your mother's gonna be disappointed.

Daria - Well, I have all afternoon to figure out how to break it to her.

(naturally, fate chooses that moment to have Helen pull up next to the girls in her SUV)

Helen - Hi, girls.

Jane - Hi, Mrs. Morgendorffer.

Daria - Hi.

Helen - Daria, my deposition was postponed 'til tomorrow, so I thought, why not try out those new contacts with an unscheduled driving lesson?

(Daria is momentarily panicked; she then blurrily sees a guy walking a group of dogs, and knows what she must now do)

Daria - Mom, I have something to tell you.

(closing credits)