|So we reach the end of one phase; although Principal Li isn't eaten by a giant worm, and the school isn't blown up, Daria and Company have, in those immortal words, survived high school -- even without the aid of the Ramones -- a journey hardly less fraught with dangers and stumbling blocks than that of Buffy and her friends.
And what happens after high school? Well, you start making decisions more-or-less on your own that will affect the entire future course of your life. It's scary and one is tempted to duck out... but the decisions have to be made.
What college? What major? College at all? Go to a college that looks good on a resume, or one that actually fits your own needs or desires? And many others.
Daria is stuck choosing between two schools -- the prestigious Ivy League-ish school that boyfriend Tom's family almost owns and which he will certainly be attending, and which Tom will attend, or the rather less prestigious school that her parents attended.
Jane is panicking; she had intended to attend Boston Fin Arts College, but now she's beginning to have second thoughts; essentially, beginning to doubt whether she's good enough.
And so on.
For what is apparently the last hurrah of the series, we see the characters all being gloriously themselves; one of the first things Daria says as she and Jane share a pizza is "I wanted some sisterhood, just so long as it didn't involve my actual sister."
Daria's acceptance speech as she receives a surprise award at graduation is a masterpiece of anome and sardonicism, summing up neatly some of the core concepts of the series.
Daria, as a character, resonates deeply with many viewers, of course - - all too many of us barely survived high school intact (sometimes even in physical terms), and the loner who ignores or even actively disdains the values and enthusiasms of the majority and suffers for it is a classic archetype (or stereotype, depending on what you think of the character).
Daria, of course, is the uninvolved sardonic onlooker carried to the extreme -- so far, sometimes, that she herself becomes the butt of the joke.
This is probably not the place to begin with Daria; too many of the situations in this film depend on knowledge of the characters and of what has gone before -- but for the experienced Daria viewer, or for the newbie willing to take certain things as givens, it's a fitting farewell to the characters and milieu of the series.
(A follow-on of Daria and Company in college/later life might be fun. Or, of course, it might be a disaster...)
Included are two episodes of the MTV series, "Lucky Strike", in which the teachers go on strike and Daria winds up substitute teaching, and "Boxing Daria", which was the final episode of the last season on MTV, and which examines Daria's relations with her parents and looks back to her childhood to give us a slightly different take on the givens of the series.
((Also included is an easter egg featuring an early Daria appearance on "Beavis and Butthead" (she is the cousin of one of them) -- but, since it's "Beavis and Buttheead", i'm not going to tell you how to find it...))