"I Don't" was the fourth episode of the second season of Daria (episode number 204). It first aired on MTV on March 9, 1998. Amy Barksdale, Erin, Brian Danielson, Rita Barksdale, Paul Meyerson, Daphne, Garrett and Luhrman made their first (and, in some cases, only) appearances here.
"I Don't" was written by Peter Gaffney.
"Daria and her family participate in the strange and frightening ritual known as a family wedding." ― MTV summary
Daria’s cousin, Erin, is getting married and the Morgendorffers are invited. The news and the invitation open up Helen’s old wounds regarding her family, specifically her resentment regarding their mother’s perceived favoritism towards Rita, the bride’s mother.
Daria and Quinn are to serve as bridesmaids, so Daria has to go downtown to try and fit a bridesmaid dress, being humiliated by an ill-tempered sales women and the fact that Quinn looks lovely in her dress. At the shop, she meets Jodie and Brittany, who are preparing an extra-curriculum appearance at a bridal expo.
The wedding takes place at the Windsor Hills, a luxury resort place. The Morgendorffers meet Rita and, a few moments later, Aunt Amy arrives. The latter immediately starts throwing verbal barbs at her sisters, Jake and even Paul, Rita's current beau. She compliments only Daria when the latter reveals the same use of sarcastic humor. Later, Daria and Quinn are received by the other bridesmaids and presented to their escorts. Daria’s is Luhrman, a seemingly bored young man who snipes away at her attempts of conversation, while Garrett, Quinn’s escort, immediately fawns over her. The wedding ceremony goes without a glitch, except when Amy provokes Daria’s laugh by doing faces at her during a particularly emotional part of the sermon.
At the same time, in Lawndale at the bride expo, Mack and Kevin have sneaked in to watch their respective girlfriends, despite Mack’s worries that Jodie and Brittany wouldn’t want them there. This proves correct when Kevin makes himself noticed when Brittany’s on stage, provoking her into walking offstage in disgust and later berating him. Mack and Kevin are also mistaken for a gay couple at the expo.
Meanwhile, the wedding reception is now taking place: Jake and Paul, who had known each other previously from boy scouts, talk about their respective spouses. Daria amuses herself by telling outlandish stories about her fictional occupations to the credulous bridesmaids. Luhrman shows himself to be even more cynical than Daria, though he discreetly helps Daria with her stories. Erin and her groom Brian make the rounds, with the bride only too eager to reveal Brian's work in government intelligence. Later, Daria has a private talk with Amy at the restroom, who tells her some childhood memories and that she tries to handle her sisters using sarcasm.
At the head table, however, a drunk Helen starts loudly complaining about the wedding costs and the favoritism their mother is showing, first to Rita and now to Erin. The rant brings the attention of the whole family and quickly escalates into a fight. Meanwhile, the minister’s continuous attempts to hit on Quinn eventually draw the ire of Garrett and, after a few exchanged harsh words, the two start throwing punches (to Quinn's response of "oh no"). The two fights degenerate in a full scale brawl that trashes the reception.
Daria and Amy, seeing the carnage enfold, make a discreet escape to a nearby bowling alley, where they continue to talk and bond. They find Brian there, also escaping from the fight, but take no notice of him.
At the end of the night, at what remains of the reception, Helen and Rita end up drunkenly proclaiming their eternal love, Quinn consoles a battered Garrett, the battered minister tries to hit on another bridesmaid, Paul is able to bribe the police away, and Jake finally has some fun when he goes golfing in the middle of the night.
"I Don't" and Fanfic
This episode introduced the characters of Rita and Amy Barksdale, as well as backstory for Helen, presenting the resentment Helen feels towards Rita being the favoured daughter and the way the three sisters feel and behave to one another. This theme has also been often explored in fanfiction.
Amy, despite her small role in the actual series, become a very, very, very common character in fan fiction, based on her Daria-esque personality and the rapport she had with her niece. Traditionally, Amy has been presented as a likable ally of Daria, similar to this episode.
The threat that Daria will kill Jane and bury her with her bridesmaid dress, often quoted in fanfiction, comes from this episode, specifically as a response to Jane's teasing in seeing Daria in the mentioned dress.
For various alternate versions of the story, see Links below.
This episode is explicitly set in 1998, as a banner reads "Bridal Expo '98". "Is It College Yet?", set two years later, has a sign explicitly setting it in... 2001. Whoa oh...
The episode takes place in Leeville, somewhere with southern accents. In an interview, Glenn Eichler stated he saw the Barksdales as coming from Virginia; this is presumably where Leeville is.
Amy seems to dislike Helen more than Rita, 'joking' that the two are arguing because of an issue Helen has and acting surprised that Jake's still married to her.
MTV's feature "Love is a Way Too Many Splendored Thing", a 'flipbook' of Quinn's admirers, has Quinn say Garrett was "a really sweet guy, especially when he punched that minister in the eye". This, and her response to Garrett being hurt, indicates she was somewhat aware of the minister's intent. (The flipbook also has a page on the minister: "I still don't understand all that stuff he said about communion.")
Another flipbook, "It Takes Two to Tangle", says Rita went out with Paul because he was so dull and pathetic compared to her last boyfriend - "her previous boyfriend was killed in a drop; she overcompensated by dating a drip." The Erin/Bryan marriage was described as: "It's nice to see young people returning to tradition…like the tradition of the ill-conceived first marriage."
- Transcript at Daria Transcripts
- Untitled "secret history" version of the story, by WacoKid
- "John Lane 11: A Mirror of Future Fears" by Richard Lobinske
- "Finn Morgendorffer 11: Man of Honor" by HolyGrail2007
- "Grove Hell 2: All the Lawndale People" (from chapter 5) by Charles RB
- "Till Death Do Us Part" by TAG
- Esteem Roller, by legendeld
- Misery's End, by Richard Lobinske