Janet Barch is the Science teacher at Lawndale High.
"Fine, class. Ignore me. Just like HE did!" ― The Lab Brat
The main feature of this character was that, all through the show Barch constantly display her her deep harboured resentment of all men, caused by a bitter divorce from her husband of twenty-two years (he left for a younger woman and apparently left her with a rash). Almost everything she said on the show would inevitably digress into ravings about how her husband left her, or about men in general are selfish, untrustworthy and would abandon their female companions after the best years of their lives.
This behaviour and hatred of men passed on to her teaching, where she would give lower grades to male students, and distort even basic school science knowledge by including negative references to the male sex. She once deliberately made Kevin Thompson do an "experiment" designed to crush his self-esteem ("Too Cute"), and in one episode she deliberately singles out Mack in Home Room to write out anti-male slogans on the blackboard ("Daria Database" says that she regularly targets Mack for some reason). She also uses "spend[ing] the period in independent study" as a threat against students like Upchuck - as "independent study" is a euphamism for being confined in a closet, something that caused Upchuck fear ("Fizz Ed").
"The Daria Database" reveals that she uses a cell phone to "call and hang up on [her] ex-husband twenty times a day (until he gets Caller ID)"...
She hates Anthony DeMartino and he regards her with fear, to the extent he tried to prevent Timothy O'Neill from marrying her for O'Neill's own safety. She has physically assaulted DeMartino in "The Daria Hunter" (as a substitute for her ex-husband), "The New Kid" (to scare him into changing the Yearbook layout), "Is It College Yet?" (for interfering with her relationship), and "The Daria Database" (for no apparent reason), and in "The Lawndale File" lied to Immigration that DeMartino was an illegal immigrant so he'd be incarcerated. Despite that, in "Antisocial Climbers" it was DeMartino who was tasked to translate Barch's traumatised whimperings into English, which he was able to do.
Daria knows exactly what to say to please Barch and can manipulate her misandry to get a better mark. Barch seems to like Daria's more cynical ideas and comments. ("The Lab Brat")
In "The Big House", during a hockey game against DJs, Barch is seen having Rock N' Roll Randy in a headlock and punching him repeatedly while snarling "It's payback time, Randy!". It sounded like a personal vendetta: was Randy intended to have been her ex-husband?
Despite her misandry damaging her ability to teach, Barch seems to have some sense of pride in her work - in "Fizz Ed", when she was forced to give inane lessons that would promote Ultra Cola, she was clearly fed up and responded to her suggested 'lesson plan' by announcing "or I can just spend the rest of the day in the teachers' bathroom, staring at the tiles" and then walking out. Later, in "Lucky Strike", she was the first teacher during union negotiations to bluntly ask Li "are we getting our raise or not?", and took a key role in the union strike by crafting the picket signs (which weren't fit for purpose and had to be redone by Jane Lane).
Surprisingly, in Andrea's webcomic "Gothic Nights", Barch is the only teacher that's not shown as a humiliated enemy - instead, "Queen Hecuba" gives a spectral Barch a job after she scares Mack off. ("The Daria Database") Does Andrea actually like Barch?
Relationship with Timothy O'Neill
Janet Barch would start a a romantic relationship with colleague Timothy O'Neill in episode The Daria Hunter, which would last for the remaining of the series. The relationship was based initially on the attraction of a man with sensitivity, a concept she found paradoxical. In said relationship, she was extremely domineering and assertive, but the situation seemed to work well for both parties.
In Is It College Yet?, the series finale, Barch would misinterpret a comment by O'Neill and assume they're engaged, immediately starting wedding plans. These plans would be halted and Barch would leave O'Neill when the latter finally stands up to her (with the help of Anthony DeMartino), but she'd come back to him just at the end of the movie. It turned out she was intrigued by his new backbone...
The Daria website once had the two introduce a section on romance:
O'Neill: The human need to love and be loved is a wonderful thing. To stand vulnerable before a fellow being, open and innocent and�
Barch: Pick it up, Skinny. I've got the keys to the broom closet and we only have 20 minutes before the staff meeting.
O'Neill: Oh, um, yes�so this month we will explore the subject of romance: the subtle dance of attraction, the dropping of boundaries that allows a manifestation of selfless, limitless devotion and�
Barch: �the attention to a woman's needs finally after a decade-plus of insensitive, ape-like groping from a man whose mid-life crisis conveniently arrived after she had already sacrificed her youth indulging his every whim, until one day he takes off without so much as a "see ya later," so is it surprising that she felt damn near to bursting with pent-up--
O'Neill: Uh, look at the time! Heh heh. Time to go. Enjoy the features below!
Barch: C'mon, Mr. Clean, we've got some polishing to do.
O'Neill: Oh dear.
Ms. Barch was voiced by actor Ashley Albert (sometimes credited as Echo and Petunia), who also gave voice to Tiffany Blum-Deckler.
During a school field trip to a paintball park, she mentions to Mr. O'Neill that the only thing she got out of her divorce were "the corns on my feet and a big, rash on my chest".
Janet Barch in fanfiction
Barch's hatred of the male gender and her relation to O'Neill, which constitute a main characteristic of this character and the show, has been endlessly explored in fanfiction. She ended up as a major antagonist in the Finn Morgendorffer series.
In Doggieboy's Ring-a-Ling, Janet Barch plays an important role in preventing the obscene phone caller from ever plying his trade again.
"Barch Nemesis" by Kristen Bealer taunts us with a Jake/Barch romantic pairing.
"God Save the Esteem" by Charles RB has Barch unable to be her canon self in a world of phone cameras, and thus ends up a semi-protagonist consumed with general rage and discontent (that leads to Ken Edwards getting dropkicked).
TAG's "Just Desserts" has Barch get O'Neill off his medication and, as a result, has the best meal ever.