Daria Rages Against the Capitalist Machine

Image result for daria ultra cola

“Fizz Ed”  presents a nuanced criticism regarding the confluence of the fiscal reality of public education and private interests. The episode begins by demonstrating the pathetic state of Lawndale High – maps still have the USSR on it and there isn’t paint for art classes. When the principal notices the football team lacks the necessary practice equipment, she decides to find a way to create extra revenue for the team. Ms. Li ends up selling the school’s soul; everything from globes to school buses become advertisements for Ultra Cola. Students must meet consumption quotas in order to maintain the donations.  Ironically, the only time the public is given the opportunity to question this decision is during the Super Bowl, so obviously no one but Daria and Jane show up. The school quickly reaches “Peak Cola” when cheerleaders literally wear soda cans, the principal agrees to falsify football players’ grades in exchange for soda consumption, and she even forces elementary students to drink cola.

This episode works on a few levels – it criticizes the way mainstream scholastics valorize football over academics, and the problematic relationship between money and education. The schools’ budgetary woes start because self-interested residents refuse to raise property taxes in order to increase school funding. Learning becomes compromised when globes even advertise for soda and children are forced to drink unhealthy soda before they have the capacity to decide what is healthy for them or not. While the episode takes the plotline to an extreme (the principal takes an axe to the hallways in order to destroy all the Ultra Cola paraphernalia), I think I see a lot of parallels to the way money corrupts education. Textbook companies are able to profit off learning, as well as “name-brand” schools like Wake Forest that charge increasingly exorbitant amounts of tuition without raising wages for professors or stipends for graduate students…seriously, my stipend is the same as the students received in the 80s….


By Elyse Conklin

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4 Responses to Daria Rages Against the Capitalist Machine

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I’ve only seen a few episodes of this show but based on what you have said, I feel like this episode shines a light on real problems in the education system. This episode reminds of how my high school put sports as a priority over academics. I remember how the “star” on our basketball team actually had a lady that did all of his homework and projects for him. She was an aide around the school that was never actually assigned to help him, but she was a big proponent of the basketball team, and voluntarily did all of his work for him. It was one of those things everyone knew about, but no one could do anything about. – Katie Thevenow

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I have never seen this show but I like how it makes sense of real-life issues. Although the show definitely exaggerates, I think that is the only way to get the point across while still keeping people’s interest. Even as an athlete I do not think sports should be a priority, especially over education; therefore I coincide with the underlying message of this episode.
    -Jenna Romano

  3. mediaphiles says:

    This is all to real. I like Daria for the this simple fact. It seems to call out the issues of everyday life all while doing it in a nonchalant way. I think shows today have a little more freedom to bringing issues like these to light than in the old days, because back then these shows were used to advertise products to the public and persuade them that they needed these products when they didn’t. It also demonstrates a different dynamic that television has now over television in the past.


  4. marymdalton says:

    LOVE THIS POST! (Also love Daria.)

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