There are a lot of unnecessary spin-offs and reboots, and some have proven to be more successful than others. But there is one spin-off in the works that will probably be welcomed with open arms once it premieres: Daria is lending itself to be spun off into Jodie, an adult animated series focused on Jodie Landon, one of the few black students at Lawndale High and the class valedictorian.
Per MTV’s announcement, Jodie will follow the titular character “as she comes into her own and enters the workplace in her first post-college job in tech” and aims to satirize Gen-Z workplace culture. The original animated series, which ran from 1997 to 2002 on MTV, focused on its principal character, Daria Morgendorffer, a sarcastic, unpopular teen. Jessica Cydnee Jackson provided the voice for Jodie Landon in the original series, but this adaptation will star Tracee Ellis Ross, who will also serve as an executive producer on the project.
Last year, MTV President Chris McCarthy confirmed that there would be a spin-off of Daria coming down the pipeline, but at the time it was set to focus on both Daria and Jodie. Now, it seems that Grace Edwards, a writer and co-producer for Insecure has reimagined the series to shift its focus to Jodie.
While Daria continues to be referenced in popular culture on a regular basis and is openly praised for her caustically witty take on the ludicrous nature of high school culture, Jodie seems to have been cast aside from the collective consciousness, but let’s not forget the contributions Jodie made to the culture. Even though she was the president of the French club, vice president of student council, editor of the yearbook, member of the tennis team, and class valedictorian, Jodie Landon was not your typical over-achiever. As one of the few black students at Lawndale High, it was Jodie who openly vocalized her frustrations with the tokenism at play with her white classmates, who she felt viewed her as “queen of the negroes, the perfect African-American teen, the role model for all the other African-American teens at Lawndale.” At times, it seemed like Jodie was the only real voice of reason at Lawndale High, even knocking Daria down a peg back to reality when she needed it.
It also makes sense that in the future, Jodie would grow up to work in the tech field. She did, after all, once admit, “I’d like to own my own business. Maybe a consulting firm geared toward minority startups.”
“I am thrilled to bring this project to life with MTV, both as executive producer and by voicing Jodie’s character. Being able to give voice to fresh, feminist and unexplored stories of young women excites me,” Ross said in a statement to MTV. “Jodie will spin-off from the cult classic Daria and with the brilliant, sweet and sarcastic black girl magic that is Jodie Landon, we will feature a diverse cast, comprised mainly of unapologetically smart and ambitious young female characters who are vulnerable and flawed and interesting and funny.”
Maybe not all spin-offs are a bad idea (let’s not forget that Daria was initially a spin-off of Beavis and Butt-Head), especially when they have the potential to change history the way Jodie might. It will be the first animated show for adults (sorry, Doc McStuffins) to feature a black woman as a main character in roughly two decades. One of the more recent examples of a black woman being a main character in an adult animated cartoon is Foxxy Love (voiced by Cree Summer) on Comedy Central’s Drawn Together, a controversial blaxploitation riff on Valerie from the Josie and the Pussycats cartoon.
“As a very cool bonus, Jodie will be the first adult animated show in almost 20 years that will star a black woman,” Ross said of the show’s historical impact. “It will be a smart, funny workplace comedy full of commentary about everything from gentrification to sex to tech to call-out culture.”
Apparently Jodie will also be the first of many creations from the “Daria universe,” so it’s possible that we might get a deep dive into whatever happened to Jane Lane or Brittany Taylor. At the very least, they will both likely make appearances in their grown-up forms on Jodie.