“The Invitation” was the second episode of the first season of Daria. In this episode, Daria and Jane are invited to a cheerleader's party. Hilarity ensues.
It was written by Anne D. Bernstein and directed by Karen Disher, and first aired 10th March 1997.
During the art class they have together at Lawndale High School, Daria helps Brittany understand one-point perspective. Brittany wishes to repay Daria for her help and invites her to a party at her house. Daria talks about it with Jane and even though Daria is reluctant they both decide to go.
Quinn is horrified that Daria is going to a party she will be attending, and tries to convince their parents to forbid Daria from going. However, Helen and Jake are thrilled Daria is going and that both sisters have an opportunity to bond. Helen asks Daria to keep an eye on Quinn.
Daria and Jane are dropped off at Brittany's house by Trent. Jane bribes her way in by leaving her sketch book (containing "life studies") with the gate guard, and then convinces Brittany to invite her in by promising to help her in geometry ("Lots of circles, squares and triangles"). There they meet Charles "Upchuck" Ruttheimer III, who offers to lead them on a tour of the house. Meanwhile, Quinn is waited on by The Three Js (to varying degrees of success), popular-obsessed students (including Sandi, Tiffany and the Popular Girl) discuss the assumed popularity of nearby students, and Brittany shows the house to Mack and Jodie.
Later that evening, two young men try to interact with Daria and Jane using some corny pick-up lines, which do not impress Daria. Jane is receptive to the boys (if not their pickup lines) and disappears with one (whom she refers to as Bobby Bighead) for a while. Left to her own devices, Daria embarrasses Quinn by associating with her and telling the Three J's some embarrassing (and possibly false) stories about Quinn's childhood. Quinn, fed up with her, bribes Daria to leave her alone and go home.
Despite Daria's stories and Quinn's decision not to choose a boyfriend right then, the Three J's continue to fawn over Quinn, even going so far as start a fight over her, to Quinn's delight.
Meanwhile, the guard at the front gate is so enthralled with Jane's sketch book that he leaves his post to find her, allowing some gatecrashers to enter unabated. Eventually, an angry neighbor appears with the police and ends the party. Around that time, Daria and Jane, having already decided to leave, take advantage of the guard's absence to pretend to be the new community gatekeepers, and ask personal questions, along with trivia, to the residents as proof of identity.
Daria and Jane are later joined are joined by Quinn, who no longer has a ride home as all three J's have knocked each other out and the police have ended the party. Otherwise stranded at Brittany's, they accept Upchuck's offer to drive them home.
Behind the scenes
- Glenn Eichler listed this as one of his top episodes in an interview with Nerdist and said: "I wasn’t thinking about this at the time, but it sets up that Daria isn’t being absolutely rejected from this world of the popular kids the way they do on most shows about high school. Instead it’s a case of benign neglect."
- Bernstein introduces several characters here for the first time. The Three J's get a brief description as "three nearly identical jockboys"; Ms Defoe, the more descriptive "wears a stringof large amber beads and a loose, batik caftan". Upchuck gets the longest one: "the least popular person at the party, besides Daria and Jane.This is due to his large ears, bad haircut, and the fact that he is really quite annoying."
- Daria and Helen's last scene was meant to go on longer, with "Daria and Helen smil[ing] (daggers) at each other. Jake looks from one to the other, then nervously goes back to his meal. They keep smiling. Head down, his eyes shift between them one more time." Instead, this was changed to Jake quietly looking from one to the other as they talked 'smilingly'.
- "Time goes by... use squiggly lines or something."
- Sandi and Tiffany go unnamed except as "Popular Girl One" and "Popular Girl Two", even though Sandi got a name in the "Esteemsters" script. Presumably it was decided later to reuse Sandi, since Sandi herself is specified as being at the bathroom queue.
- Jane is written as flustered when she shows attraction to Bobby Bighead as "she's just admitted attraction to a normal, popular guy."
This episode is the first to show many of the number of supporting characters: Ms. Defoe, Trent, Mack, Jodie, Upchuck, Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie.
It also debuts characteristics, attitudes or catch phrases that would later become recurring traits. These include:
- The Three Js and their slaving and competing over Quinn, and nobody remembering Jamie's real name
- Mack having to put up with being called "Mack Daddy" by Kevin Thompson
- Trent's lazy attitude and rock star aspirations
- Upchuck's "feisty" persona
- Jane revealing that she is not shy around boys
- Daria doing Quinn's homework for money
- The first inklings of Daria's crush on Trent Lane
- Sandi and Tiffany being interested in popularity (more than other students) and left bemused by Daria's lack of fashion
The theme of popularity marks its first entrance here, which becomes a key element in later episodes and a huge quantity of Fanfiction.
Daria has actually been to parties in the Beavis and Butt-head comics on two occassions and one was held at her house. She didn't seem happy in either case - her dislike of parties comes from experience.
Jane's plan to claim she's Tiffany ("there's bound to be one") is undone when there's three Tiffany's invited. "Cafe Disaffecto" reveals there are, indeed, three Tiff's in one of Quinn's classes!
The background character nicknamed Shaggy appears herein and in one startling sequence is shown to be in two different places at the same time, leading to speculation that he has paranormal powers.
This is one of several early episodes where Tiffany talks at a normal rate, as opposed to the slow rate of speech which would become characteristic of the character. In the shooting script, she's simply called "Popular Girl Two" (with Sandi getting named).
In this early ep, Stacy is not part of Sandi's group but seems to be hanging out with other people. Was she not fully in Sandi's sphere of influence yet?
Sandi can be seen doing the Snoopy dance without a care in the world.
This episode has been covered multiple times in fanfic, almost as often as Esteemsters, due to the appearance of all the above characters. First off, there are ficlets featuring plots such as everyone smoking pot and getting busted by police and other random happenings. Secondly, more and more AU fanfics have started with serious canon divergences before "Esteemsters", and have gone on to tell alternate-universe versions of this episode.
Other stories that use the episode plot are:
- "Beyond Between," by Medea42 (AU)
- "Daria's Lane: Party Me Hardly," by Ace Trax (AU)
- "The Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants," by Medea42
- John by Richard Lobinske, giving Daria and John their first taste of the temptations they face.
- Esteem Roller, by legendeld: Daria, Jane and Quinn all attend the party
- The Invitation revised by Wouter which shows what happened in the make out room with Jane and Bobby Bighead
- Invite of the Geek by cfardell Brenorenz29
- The Disinvitation by Smijey takes a realistic approach to the opening scene
- Transcript at Daria Transcripts
- Episode novelization at Outpost Daria (via Wayback Machine), by Martin J. Pollard
- January 2006 interview with Anne D. Bernstein on DVDaria, the author of "The Invitation" briefly discusses the episode
- Shooting script of episode at Anne Bernstein's website (PDF format)
- “‘The Power of ‘Giri’: A Review of 'The Invitation’” by CINCGREEN at the Daria Fandom Blog, March 10, 2007