Episode #101: Extremesters
©2003 by Roger E. Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Daria and associated characters are ©2003 MTV Networks
Feedback (good, bad, indifferent, just want to bother me, whatever) is appreciated. Please write to: email@example.com
Synopsis: Mike Yamiolkoski once asked on PPMB, what if Quinn were a quint? Thanks to shoddy fertility drugs, Quinn in this alternate-history tale becomes the oldest of a group of quintuplets—five same-age, genetically identical sisters, each with her own interests. The dramatic effects that this has on the Morgendorffers’ life are revealed—with the equally dramatic effects this new family arrangement has on Our Heroine, Daria. Details on the five Quinnts are given in a special section at the start of this script.
Author’s Notes: Mike Yamiolkoski is entirely to blame for the idea of turning one Quinn into five, posting the original idea in a PPMB thread on new fanfic ideas in July 2002. The idea proved strangely popular and drew many responses. In addition, there was a “Sick Sad World” segment from the fifth-season “Daria” episode, “Sappy Anniversary,” repeated here from the script on Outpost Daria (www.outpost-daria.com): “How shoddy fertility drugs are creating a new breed of gang and wreaking havoc with police lineups. Delinquent quintuplets, next on ‘Sick Sad World.’” Bingo! With Mike’s kind permission, I borrowed his idea and have abused it here.
This story is based on Glenn Eichler’s script for the first “Daria” episode, “Esteemsters” (also found on Outpost Daria). As such, certain events and bits of dialogue are repeated, though not exactly as they occurred in the real show. Keep in mind as you read that none of the Quinnts are identical to Quinn; even Quinn Louise represents a fragment of what the Quinn we know had the potential to be, so she is identified with a double name to separate her from the Quinn of the regular “Daria” series.
It should be noted that other authors (including Mike) have expressed an interest in writing their own versions of Quinn as quintuplets. The more alternate universes, the better, I say. You can never have too much of the infinite.
Acknowledgements: My heartfelt gratitude goes out to Mike Yamiolkoski, who came up with this weird idea in the first place and gave me many notes on possible setups. He is to blame for the idea, but not the execution, which is my fault alone.
Also deserving of credit are: WacoKid and Hiergargo (whose ideas on Quinnt personalities paralleled and aided mine in many places); Robert Nowall and Thea Zara (who suggested some of the Quinnt first names I used here); and MrMagnum (who suggested some Quinnt names I used as middle names). All this happened in July 2002, so if I credited you and you don’t remember why I did it, just be happy. Thanks also to Brandon League, who reminded me of the bouncy-hair thing.
The wonderful beta-readers for this story were (in no particular order): Ace Trax, Brandon League, MMan, Crusading Saint, Robert Nowall, Deref, Ben Breeck, Steven Galloway, Thea Zara, THM, and Tafka. Thank you for your feedback and excellent suggestions, which greatly improved this script.
[The following information is my own “character bible” for this story and any future ones in this series. It should help readers adjust to the Quinnts in quick order.—Roger]
During a routine medical checkup in the mid-1980s, a novice lawyer named Helen Morgendorffer of Highland, Texas, was accidentally given a shoddy fertility drug instead of an antibiotic shot. When she discovered she was carrying quintuplets later that year, she settled out of court with the responsible hospital for unlimited free medical care for her family for as long as she remained in Highland. Helen and her husband, Jake, established a small business for the purpose of gaining endorsements from various baby-food, diaper, and toy corporations catering to their quintuplets, in the hopes that the money flow from advertising would offset the costs of childrearing. The Quinnts, as the Morgendorffers’ five girls came to be called (after the oldest, Quinn), proved to be charming and adorable in the extreme. They became commercial models, then actresses, with their own movies, toy lines, books, fashion accessories, and fan club in the same vein as the Olsen twins. The Quinnts’ fame grew, the money flow rose dramatically, and the corporation, Quinnts Inc. (originally called The Mighty Quinnts), soon achieved extraordinary power. Helen and Jake found themselves involved full-time in corporate activities as legal and business managers, respectively, helping their five youngest daughters develop their talents and abilities to the greatest possible degree. Jake and Helen have one older daughter, Daria, who is almost never mentioned in the media (at least, not in a favorable light).
All of the Morgendorffer Quinnts have the exact same face, (original) hair color, voice, height, and build as Quinn Morgendorffer from the regular “Daria” series. Their personalities are very similar. They vary for the most part in hairstyle, dress, interests, and mannerisms (including different speech patterns). Think of the original Quinn separated into five separate Quinns, each borrowing one aspect of her personality and interests and running off with it. They tend to argue and bicker among themselves.
Quinn Louise (“Quinn”) Morgendorffer
Thumbnail: High-fashion girl, Quinnts coordinator, cheery but proper, has a degree of maturity (but with a power-seeking manipulative streak), image conscious at all times
Mnemonic: The oldest Quinnt has Quinn’s name (and her fanfic-approved middle name). She is like the original Quinn—but with a dark, sophisticated twist.
Hair: Long and professionally styled in latest trends
Typical Clothing: Ultra-stylish, top European or American labels, expensive, tasteful
Activities: Teenage high-end fashion model (international reputation), chairman of Quinnts Fan Club
Unusual Skills: The most personally charismatic of the Quinnts, adept at interviews
Speech Patterns: Extraordinarily diplomatic, unfailingly cheerful and polite in public
Smells Like: High-class expensive perfume
Best Friend: Sandi Griffin (same grade, one year older)
Romantic Interests: Famous teenage male movie stars, singers, models, etc. (none from Lawndale); many male students want to date her but can’t get her attention
Appointments: Right on time or fashionably late, as appropriate
Daria’s View of Quinn: The prettiest cobra ever hatched
Quinn’s View of Daria: “She’s not the oldest—I am the oldest.” A rival for parental affection that will never win, an embittered failure, social outcast, loser
Queenie Dawn (“Queenie”) Morgendorffer
Thumbnail: Party girl, lives for the moment and all the fun she can create
Mnemonic: “Queenie” is queen of the party girls, and “Dawn” has a cheery aspect to it.
Hair: Long topknot ponytail
Typical Clothing: Wears revealing outfits, always in school colors
Activities: Cheerleader, Pep Club vice president, models everyday teen clothing and Lawndale school outfits
Unusual Skills: Can hold alcohol better than any other Quinnt, rumormonger, lies easily
Speech Patterns: Loud, brassy, interrupts, swears like a longshoreman if angry or drunk
Smells Like: Cheap perfume, beer (after school)
Best Friend: Brittany Taylor (one grade ahead), all other cheerleaders
Romantic Interest: Charles “Upchuck” Ruttheimer III (one grade ahead, trades dirty jokes with him constantly, to his delight), Three J’s, constantly hit on by Kevin Thompson (one grade ahead) but she has no interest in him because he’s Brittany’s boyfriend
Appointments: Usually won’t show up at all
Daria’s View of Queenie: Queen of the bigmouths, dumber than she seems, troublemaker
Queenie’s View of Daria: Not printable
Quincy Lee (“Quince” or “Quincy”) Morgendorffer
Thumbnail: Sports girl, athlete, tomboy
Mnemonic: “Quincy” is a boy’s name, and Quincy is an athletic tomboy. “Lee” also has a masculine sound to it.
Hair: Layered, stylish pixie cut, worn on the long side
Typical Clothing: Sports outfits (with t-shirts), clothing with sports logos, sweat suits
Activities: Basketball, soccer, track, sports clothing and sneaker modeling
Speech Patterns: Doesn’t talk much, clipped phrases, blunt, says what she means
Smells Like: Sweat, deodorant, beer (on weekends in secret), soap/shampoo (on dates)
Best Friend: Ms. Morris (girl’s coach), who sees Quincy as a potential all-around athletic star for Lawndale
Romantic Interest: Evan (one grade ahead, track team), Three J’s (likes them all)
Appointments: Unpredictable—might show up early, late, on time, or not at all, except to sporting events, when she’s always early
Daria’s View of Quincy: Soccer-brain, dopey sports addict, too strong to fight fairly
Quincy’s View of Daria: Nutcase, won’t fight fairly, brain full of useless garbage, loser
Quill Kelly (“Quill”) Morgendorffer
Thumbnail: Study girl, homework queen, parent/teacher pleaser, Miss Perfect
Mnemonic: “Quill” implies quill pens, writing, literacy; also think of a “Kelly Girl” office helper
Hair: Long hair kept rolled in a bun, or similar conservative style
Typical Clothing: Prim conservative executive outfits, sensible shoes
Activities: Reading, ingratiating herself to adults, writing school newspaper opinion column, models conservative clothing
Unusual Skills: Extensive knowledge of the law (from Helen), forger and petty thief; reads extensively but rarely in depth, tends to skim materials or read only introductions
Speech Patterns: Generally quiet, calm, precise diction (big words borrowed from Daria or a thesaurus), insults sisters using Shakespearean terms
Smells Like: Flowery soaps, perfumes stolen from Quinn Louise (if seeing Ted)
Best Friend: Jodie Landon (who doesn’t completely trust Quill); Quill otherwise associates with parents, teachers, and other adults, but rarely her own peer group
Romantic Interest: Ted DeWitt-Clinton (one grade ahead, once he appears at Lawndale)
Appointments: Always early by about 10 minutes.
Daria’s View of Quill: Brownnoser, butt-kisser, suck-up, not as smart as she pretends
Quill’s View of Daria: Messed-up brain not plugged into the system, loser
Qualla Rae (“Qual” or “Qualla”) Morgendorffer
Thumbnail: Alternative girl, “the baby” (by an agonizing half hour for Helen), wants to be different but also fit in with her own crowd
Mnemonic: “Qualla” sounds a lot like “koala,” the small cute marsupial that actually has a bad temperament and either pees on or bites people who hold it. “Rae” is the shortest (smallest) of the middle names for the Quinnts, too.
Hair: Often dyes her long hair black, blood red, purple, streaked, etc.
Typical Clothing: Wears a variety of outsider outfits (Perky Goth, punk, Wiccan, native, trash/torn, etc., whatever shocks but has a touch of style)
Activities: Hanging out with other “cool” outsiders, writing bad poetry, disrespecting authority, complaining about being punished, modeling unusual clothing
Unusual Skills: Knows much outsider trivia and gossip, loose cultist ties
Speech Patterns: Tries to say everything in dark, moody, angst-ridden terms, but she mixes up her phrases or screws up her words; tends to whine
Smells Like: Incense, cloves, chewing gum, pot (at times)
Best Friend: Andrea (one grade ahead, but she has trouble stomaching Qualla Rae)
Romantic Interest: Mystik Spiral members (groupie wannabe, but the members avoid her), any outsider boy with cool clothing and a bad attitude
Appointments: Always late by 10 minutes or more
Daria’s View of Qualla: Fashionably alienated with emphasis on the “alien” part, attention-getter with no attention span, poser without poise
Qualla’s View of Daria: Boring, brainy, loner, loser
Episode #101: Extremesters
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
INT = Interior scene
EXT = Exterior scene
VO = Voice over (off screen)
1. EXT: SCHOOL DAY, EARLY MORNING, ON A HIGHWAY APPROACHING LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Jake Morgendorffer drives a very large orange-red SUV through Lawndale, taking his six daughters to their first day of school at Lawndale High. The SUV—a custom-made, stretched Ford Expedition—has brightly colored stickers and logos on it, advertising a variety of cosmetics, clothing, food, and other firms catering to the wants and needs of teenage girls, the way Indy 500 race cars have stickers and logos advertising oil, gas, and tire companies. Prominent among the logos is a large one for Waif magazine.
On each of the two front doors of the SUV is painted a large logo consisting of a Q with a 5 inside it, below which appears in smaller letters: QUINNTS INCORPORATED (all in white lettering). The SUV interior has three rows of custom-made leather seats; it is also outfitted with every high-tech entertainment, cosmetic, and refreshment device known or imagined. The front passenger seat is held by Quinn Louise, with the other Quinnts filling the middle two rows of the SUV. The Quinnts look as described below (see also their thumbnail descriptions at this story’s end). All are fourteen years old, though Quinn Louise carries herself in a mature manner.
Quinn Louise: Very chic light blue dress, stockings, small tasteful amount of jewelry, light blue high heels, lipstick, long red hair cut to look stylishly uncombed.
Queenie Dawn: Blue t-shirt cut short to show midriff, short yellow skirt (Lawndale High colors), white socks, expensive white sneakers, bright pink lipstick.
Quincy Lee: Athletic sweat suit with yellow chest, blue arms and pants (Lawndale High colors), white socks, battered white sneakers, long pixie cut, no lipstick.
Quill Kelly: Light brown jacket and skirt, ivory blouse, brown shoes, lipstick, looks like a well-dressed librarian or mid-level executive.
Qualla Rae: Dark purple and black Goth gown, lace gloves with finger holes, purple lipstick, black high boots with high heels, hair dyed black with orange tiger stripes.
The Quinnts listen to personal CD players and earphones, reading the latest issue of Waif magazine. Queenie Dawn bobs her head and silently mouths the words to her music.
In the far back of the SUV, behind a wire-mesh screen typically used for containing dogs, is Daria, dressed as usual (green jacket, black skirt, orange t-shirt, black boots, round glasses). She is hunched up in the narrow space between the last row of seats and the rear hatchback door. She reads a book while sitting on a folded-up blanket.
JAKE: Girls, all of you, I just want you to know that your mother and I realize it’s not easy moving to a brand new town during a school year—especially for you, Daria, right?
No one answers. Jake frowns and glances in the rear-view mirror.
JAKE: [voice rises] Daria?
QUINN LOUISE: [lifts earphones for a moment] She has earplugs in, Dad.
JAKE: What? [shouts] Daria, take out those earplugs!
QUINN LOUISE: She can’t hear you, Dad. She . . . [sighs] . . . forget it. [puts earphones back on]
JAKE: [lower voice] I’m a little worried about Daria. She doesn’t make friends as easily as . . . um, you know, some people.
QUILL KELLY: [behind Jake, removes earphones] Not like socially skilled types, you mean, not that I’m naming anyone in particular.
JAKE: Well, that’s not what I meant, necessarily. The first day at a new school is certain to be difficult for everyone, and probably more so for Daria, because . . . you know.
QUILL KELLY: Don’t I ever.
QUALLA RAE: [in third row back, chewing gum, takes off earphones, makes a face looking out a window] I still don’t see why we had to move to Lawndale instead of somewhere fun like—
QUILL KELLY: —the zoo. [looks at Qualla Rae, covers mouth with hand in false embarrassment] Oh, sorry! Did I say that out loud?
QUALLA RAE: [scowls, stops chewing gum] Big mouth, bitty brain.
QUILL KELLY: [reading Waif again] I know you are, but what am I?
QUALLA RAE: Does it hurt when you have a really big thought?
Quinn Louise, in the front seat, rolls her eyes at this exchange.
QUINN LOUISE: [bored] We’re in Lawndale because Mom and Dad want us to grow up among regular people in heartland America, not Hollywood types. Plus, we’re centrally located next to two Interstates, an airport, and a major metropolis. Isn’t that right, Dad?
JAKE: [cheerfully] That’s it, kiddo!
QUILL KELLY: [looking at Waif] Dad, Crewe Neck isn’t exactly a regular subdivision. It’s a gated community full of mansions owned by millionaires who don’t even work in their own flowerbeds or mow their lawns.
QUINCY LEE: [disgusted look at Quill Kelly] You wanna mow? Get a mower and mow.
QUILL KELLY: [looking at Waif] Can I borrow the one you used on your hair?
Quill Kelly looks up from Waif at Quincy Lee, shocked. Qualla Rae gasps in delight.
JAKE: [frowns while driving, puzzled] What was that?
QUINCY LEE, QUINN LOUISE, AND QUILL KELLY: Nothing, Dad!
Everyone is quiet for a few moments.
QUALLA RAE: Maybe the zoo would’ve been a good idea. We could have dropped off Number Six in the loser pen. [nods head toward rear of SUV, where Daria sits]
QUILL KELLY: [mumbles under her breath] And you in the weirdo pen next to it.
Quincy Lee and Quill Kelly smirk. Qualla Rae scratches her nose with her middle finger, looking meaningfully at Quill Kelly. Quinn Louise ignores the conversation from here on and goes back to reading Waif in its French edition. Queenie Dawn is too involved in her music to notice. Daria does not react, of course, since she has earplugs in.
JAKE: [tired voice] Now, girls, let’s stick together. We’re all Morgendorffers!
QUILL KELLY: [looking back at Daria] Speaking of which, did we ever have her genetically tested? Not that I’m implying anything, but hospitals do make mistakes.
The SUV pulls into the school grounds and stops near the entrance. The Quinnts take off their earphones, turn off their CD players, and stuff them into their designer backpacks in a rush. Each backpack is soft white leather and has the orange-red Q5 logo on it.
JAKE: Now, we didn’t bring security guards with us because we want you all to fit in and do your thing. The principal assured me the school was secure enough. Remember, even though you’re famous, we’re just regular people. I just don’t want any of you girls to get upset if it takes the other kids a little while to warm up to you!
2. EXT: A MOMENT LATER, FRONT OF LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
The Quinnts ignore him and get out of the SUV. Immediately, shrieks and shouts go up from students everywhere. All students within view run toward the Quinnts with wildly excited expressions. Jane Lane also appears, walking to school as usual. She stops, staring in astonishment at the Morgendorffer Quinnts. She turns around and notices three cars and vans from local TV and radio stations, recording the event with cameras and mikes. She then looks back at the mobbed Quinnts.
STUDENTS: [chaotic wild shouts] It’s them! The Morgendorffer quintuplets! They’re here! The Quinnts! There they are! Ohmigod! The Quinnts! Look!
Several hundred screaming, shouting, waving, cheering students instantly surround the Quinnts, each one eagerly trying to talk to them and get their autographs. The Fashion Club pushes its way to the front of the mob.
STACY: [overexcited and hyperventilating] Sandi! [gasp] It’s them! [gasp, to Quinn Louise] You’re [gasp] Quinn Louise, right? [gasp] I’m Stacy [gasp] Rowe! Wow!
QUINN LOUISE: [smiles] Quinn Louise Morgendorffer, the oldest! Quinn will do.
TIFFANY: [awestruck] Yooou are sooo coool!
SANDI: [to Quinn Louise] Hi, welcome to Lawndale! I’m Sandi Griffin, president of the Lawndale Fashion Club, and I would love—
TIFFANY: [to Quinn] Dooo I look faaat to yooou?
SANDI: [to Quinn Louise, louder] —I would love to invite you to my house after school today or later this week for a special get-together if you—
QUEENIE DAWN: [interrupts, screaming] Hey, Lawndale! We’re here! Paaar-teee! Paaar-teee! Paaar-teee! Paaar-teee!
MANY STUDENTS: [taking up Queenie Dawn’s chant] Paaar-teee! Paaar-teee! Paaar-teee! Paaar-teee!
QUEENIE DAWN: [sees Brittany Taylor, looks excited] Oh, you’re wearing Lawndale’s colors, too! Did I get them right?
BRITTANY: [to Queenie Dawn] You sure did! I’m Brittany Taylor. You have the house behind ours in Crewe Neck! This is my boyfriend, Ke—
QUEENIE DAWN: (to Brittany] Are you a cheerleader? Can I join? I need something my mom can tell a college that I did.
KEVIN: [ogling Queenie Dawn’s bra-enhanced breasts] You’re qualified to be a cheerleader, all right!
BRITTANY: [smacks Kevin] Hey! Eyes above the neck, jerk!
JEFFY: [to Queenie Dawn] Will you—
JOEY: [to Quincy Lee] —go out—
JAMIE: [to Quinn Louise, who ignores him] —with me?
QUINCY LEE: [to Joey, calm] Are you into sports?
JOEY: [to Quincy Lee] I’m a lineman for our football team, the Lawndale Lions.
QUINCY LEE: [to Joey] Sure, I’ll go out with you, then. Where’s the rest of the team?
QUINN LOUISE: [talks to the worshipful Fashion Club, her back to the eager Jamie] But I would have to say that Paris is the best place to go in Europe for culture and fun, although Prague—Prague has a special Bohemian atmosphere of its own, definitely worth a weekend visit. If you want a good hotel, try—
We switch to Jodie Landon, who is greeting Quill Kelly.
JODIE LANDON: [to Quill Kelly] You’re Quill, right? The writer? I’m Jodie Landon. I think you have the house two doors down from ours in Crewe Neck.
QUILL KELLY: [shakes hands with Jodie] Pleased to meet you. Yes, I’m the lone intellectual in the family—the only sane one, anyway.
JODIE: [smiles] There aren’t many intellectuals around here, I’m afraid. You’re in the ‘burbs, now.
QUILL KELLY: [smiles back] You and I make two, right? [points to a book Jodie’s carrying] Oh, I read that—the first chapter, anyway. I really liked what she—
COREY: [pushes through crowd to Quill Kelly] Will you go out with me?
QUILL KELLY: [without missing a beat] I might, if you take an IQ test and mail the results to me.
COREY: [to Quill Kelly, thrilled] All right! [runs off]
Quill Kelly smirks, and Jodie laughs hesitantly, eyeing Quill with a trace of unease.
From his seat in the stretch SUV, Jake watches the mob scene with mild anxiety. He sees Qualla Rae surrounded by punks, Goths, and skaters, telling a story he can’t hear, to which the outsider crowd reacts with excitement. We move in to hear what she’s saying.
QUALLA RAE: [casual] Yeah, Ozzy’s really cool. You should meet his family. They’re such a scream! I love ‘em. They really should make a TV show about them someday.
Jake shakes his head. He pulls away from the school and almost reaches the main road before he looks in the rear-view mirror—and sees Daria is still in the far back of the SUV, reading and oblivious to everything.
JAKE: [startled] Uh-oh.
Jake pulls the SUV back into the curved drive in a U-turn. Once back at the high school’s main entrance, he stops the SUV, gets out, and walks to the back, where he opens the hatchback door. Daria looks up and pulls out her earplugs. She swings her legs out of the rear of the car, leaves her book behind in the SUV, and puts on her plain gray backpack. Her face betrays no expression except a certain weariness and resignation.
DARIA: [deadpan] Thanks. I think.
JAKE: Oh! Daria, before you go— [reaches into his suit pocket]
DARIA: [turns to Jake, grimaces] Dad, I don’t need those.
JAKE: [pulls bottle of pills from pocket] Now, Daria, if the doctor says you have to take them, who are we to argue? And we do want to keep your spirits up, kiddo! Damn it, I don’t have any bottled water with me.
DARIA: [holds out a hand] Just give it here, and I’ll take it when I get to a drinking fountain. Or a handy toilet.
JAKE: [cringes] Ewww! Daria!
DARIA: [resigned look] Joke, Dad.
JAKE: Oh! Right! [shudders, then gives Daria two pills from the bottle] Here’s the one for lunch, too. And listen, kiddo, don’t be upset if it takes the other kids time to . . . [stops, as Daria has walked off out of hearing range]
Jake looks sadly after Daria. He shrugs, puts the pill bottle back in his pocket, gets into the SUV again, and drives away.
Jane Lane, standing to one side, watches the SUV’s return and Daria’s exit. Jane’s eyes widen; she appears to recognize Daria, and her mouth forms a small round “o” as she walks over to greet Daria. Meanwhile, Daria—ignored by everyone else—looks back, sees that her father is gone, and drops the pills on the sidewalk. She stamps them into white smears with a boot heel. Daria then reaches in her green jacket and takes out a small metallic flask; she unscrews the cap and knocks back a fast swig, then flinches and makes a bitter “yuck” face. As Daria recaps her flask, Jane walks up to her.
DARIA: [sees Jane] If you’re going to shoot me, I won’t hold it against you.
JANE: You wouldn’t be Daria, by any chance?
DARIA: [coughs, dabs sleeve to mouth, deadpan] The sixth Quinnt, that’s me. [gestures at Quinnts] The main show’s over there. Hurry, before the rush starts.
JANE: Mmmm, maybe another time. [sniffs the air, then eyes the flask Daria holds loosely in one hand] I saw you on that two-hour “Sick Sad World” special a few months ago. You’re a writer, right? Short stories and poems?
DARIA: I was, but my moment of fame has already passed. I can still hear that eternal footman snickering.
JANE: Care to see the magnificent desolation that is Lawndale High, in the company of an experienced and morally corrupt tour guide? I’m Jane, by the way. Jane Lane.
DARIA: Sure. I love desolation. Sounds like my kind of place.
JANE: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” That’s our motto.
DARIA: It sounds familiar. Damned if I can place it.
JANE: No one can prove we stole it. We have a few minutes before the first bell. The principal takes the new students on the official tour, so we’ll do the unauthorized short tour and view the naked underbelly of Lawndale High firsthand.
DARIA: Lead on, Virgil—but first, I have to refuel. [raises flask, unscrewing cap again]
JANE: [eyes Daria’s flask with concern] You should cut back on the Jägermeister before eight a.m. on a school day.
DARIA: It’s for medicinal purposes only. [offers flask to Jane, cap still on] Need something for a little owie?
JANE: [takes flask, screws cap on tight, and puts it inside her red jacket] Sorry, bar’s closed.
DARIA: [anxiously reaches for flask] Hey!
JANE: [holds jacket closed with one hand, holds up other hand to ward Daria off] Uh-uh! Friends don’t let friends drink before they meet Principal Li. Trust me on this. Bad deal.
Jane studies Daria’s reaction. Daria eyes the bulge in Jane’s jacket pocket where the flask now rests, but she sighs in defeat.
DARIA: [depressed tone] So much for breakfast.
JANE: [concerned, but tries cheery note] There’s chocolate in my locker.
DARIA: I’ve been here only five minutes, and I’m already your slave.
JANE: [smiles] I work fast. C’mon, I’ll give you the lowdown on Lawndale.
DARIA: [looks back at the mobbed Quinnts] Are you sure you’ve got the right Morgendorffer? The fun, cool ones are over there.
JANE: [glances at Quinnts] No offense to them, but I don’t think so.
DARIA: Bet you a twenty that all five have dates before lunch.
JANE: Ha! I must have my stupid face on.
Jane and Daria head off together into the school building.
3. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, HALLWAY, LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Jane is showing Daria around the school. No one pays any attention to them at all.
JANE: [gesturing into a room] And this is the science lab. I know a kid who set his whole lab desk on fire last year. He turned his Bunsen burner into a miniature flamethrower. It was an accident—or so he said.
DARIA: And people say our generation has no potential.
JANE: Speaking of that potential thing, I wanted to ask you about your writing. What—
DARIA: [interrupts] I’m on a creative sabbatical. Make sure the tabloids understand what “sabbatical” means; last time I said it, one of them thought I was joining a convent.
JANE: [playing along] I’ll speak slowly and clearly for them. So, you’re taking time off from your writing?
DARIA: [looks away] Something like that. Writer’s block. Writer’s concrete block, more like it.
JANE: Listen, I’d like to read anything you’ve got that—
DARIA: [interrupts] I’d better find the principal and get the official tour before I’m declared missing in action. Is the office around here?
JANE: [taken aback] Uh, okay, sure. [points] The office is down the hall that way. The other new students will—
DARIA: Great. I’d better get going. Thanks for the tour, Jane. See you around.
Daria walks off, leaving Jane with a surprised look on her face.
JANE: [puzzled] Hmmm. I wonder if it was something I said. [raises one arm and sniffs her underarm, lowers her arm] Yeah, it was something I said. But what?
4. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, HALLWAY INSIDE LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Daria, the Quinnts, and about a half-dozen other new students are being shown around Lawndale High School by Principal Li. Daria trails the group; she does not appear well, and her arms are crossed over her stomach as if it hurt. She swallows and appears sweaty as the principal speaks.
PRINCIPAL LI: [beams at the Quinnts in particular] So, as you clearly see, Laaawndale High School is the finest educational facility in the region. Our security system is second to none, though I really can’t say any more about it, or it won’t be secure! Ha ha! [no one laughs] Yes, um, and to keep our reputation absolutely spotless, we arrange for each new student to take an insignificant psychological exam—you wonderful Quinnts as well!—to spot any dark little clouds on the horizon as you sail upon the mighty seas of knowledge! The psychologist’s office is right over here.
DARIA: [sudden look of dread, softly] Uh-oh. [burps, looks more ill]
Several Quinnts sneak interested glances at Daria.
QUINN LOUISE: [clears throat, diplomatic tone] Ms. Li, I should let you know that—
QUEENIE DAWN: Hey, nobody said anything about us taking a test!
QUILL KELLY: It’s a mental exam. You’re exempt.
QUEENIE DAWN: Oh, good.
Daria backs out of the student group, appearing pale and ill, and leaves quickly.
QUINN LOUISE: [pulls a folded paper from her backpack, gives it to Principal Li] Our mother, who is a practicing attorney licensed in this state, has certain special instructions concerning any psychological testing that we Morgendorffer Quinnts receive.
PRINCIPAL LI: You’re joking, right? [unfolds and reads paper] Oh. You’re not joking. [reads further, looks insulted] Well, of course I’d never sell private information about my students to the media. [sighs, folds paper and puts it in her pocket] Very well, I’ll speak with our school psychologist about your confidentiality arrangements. Your mother has a lot of nerve. I would never dream of giving anyone’s psychological test results to the National Inquisitor in exchange for a new science lab—never!
QUILL KELLY: [soft whisper] That’s not what our spy at the National Inquisitor said.
Qualla Rae snaps her chewing gum loudly. Everyone looks at her.
PRINCIPAL LI: [points to trash can nearby] If you would, please. [forced smile] We don’t want to set a bad example for the other students!
QUILL KELLY: [under her breath] As if that were possible in this dump.
Qualla Rae, looking angry, throws out her gum.
QUINCY LEE: [whisper] She shoots, she scores, two points for the mutant team.
Qualla Rae glares at Quincy Lee.
PRINCIPAL LI: All right, follow me. Let’s get introduced to Mrs. Manson, even if you aren’t going to take any revealing tests—this time. [leads the new students away]
QUALLA RAE: [at end of line, under her breath] Mrs. Manson? Did Charlie get married in prison? [looks around, low voice] Hey, where’s Daria?
Several of the Quinnts hear this and look around, but Daria is no longer with their group. They glance uneasily at Principal Li, who hasn’t noticed, but they say nothing more about Daria’s disappearance and follow Ms. Li instead.
5. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, GIRL’S RESTROOM, LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Her face white as snow, Daria stands before a sink in the girls’ restroom, leaning forward with her hands gripping either side of the sink. Her head is lowered, and she looks exhausted. The door to the restroom opens, and Jane comes in. Jane stops in surprise when she sees Daria. Daria glances up just long enough to see Jane in the mirror, then looks down into the sink again.
JANE: Hey, are you all right?
DARIA: [rough, low voice] M’okay. I think. [pause, coughs, spits into the sink] The Jägermeister didn’t agree with me.
JANE: [walks up beside Daria, very concerned] You’re not motion sick from the little tour I gave you, are you?
DARIA: [shakes head] No, I’m okay now. [coughs] Jane?
DARIA: I’m not like this, really. I’m not. I’m just a little rattled upstairs. It’s the jet lag.
JANE: I thought you said your family drove here.
DARIA: There, that proves my point. Just a little rattled.
JANE: [concerned] You need to go home?
DARIA: [shakes head] No. I’ll stick it out today. [coughs] Do me a favor?
JANE: I can’t shoot you until we get to my house.
Daria smiles faintly into the sink.
DARIA: Deal. Please don’t tell anyone about this—not for a little while. Give me a week to get my head together, if you can.
JANE: Tell anyone? What do you mean? Who would I tell?
DARIA: [spits into sink again] The . . . the . . . if you tell the . . . never mind.
JANE: The teachers?
DARIA: No, the . . . [waves a hand] Forget it. I’m okay. [pause] That flask you took?
JANE: [eyes Daria carefully] Yeah?
DARIA: [coughs] Please throw it away, or keep it as a souvenir, but hide it somewhere where I can’t see it. I’m gonna quit this time, for real. Just don’t put it on e-Bay or give it— [coughs] —don’t give it to the . . . you know.
JANE: [puzzled expression] Parents? FBI? Don’t worry about it.
DARIA: [nods] Thanks. I was . . . a little nervous. First day of school, new home, new city. I’m okay now.
JANE: [not buying it, but agreeable] I’m okay with your being okay, if you’re okay with it. Okay?
Daria nods, not smiling and still looking into the sink. She then pushes back and wipes her mouth with one hand, then washes her hands with soap and wipes off her face.
DARIA: [while washing] I appreciated your showing me around.
JANE: Sure. That’s what friends are for.
Daria digests this comment, looking into the sink.
DARIA: [low voice] That would be a first.
JANE: A first for what?
DARIA: Nothing. [takes a deep breath, looks at Jane] I have to see the school psychologist, for some kind of testing. Do you know what kind of tests she gives?
JANE: Inkblots, that’s about it. I got sent to her at the start of ninth grade—long story—and all she gave me was the inkblot, five or six of them.
DARIA: Rorschach test.
JANE: [smiles] I was afraid I’d mispronounce it.
DARIA: She doesn’t do draw-a-person, play with dolls, MMPI-2, anxiety-depression measures, any of that?
JANE: [smile fades] No. I’ve never heard of—
DARIA: Good. I know what to say to get out of inkblots, if I keep my temper. With any luck, she’ll get bored with me and pick on my sisters instead.
JANE: Favorite fantasy of yours?
DARIA: Do androids dream of electric sheep?
JANE: Are cubists always looking for a new angle?
DARIA: [smiles, appears calmer] Inkblots I can deal with. Um—what happens if you give a troubling response?
JANE: You get sent to Mr. O’Neill’s self-esteem class after school. It’s mind-bendingly dull, but not fatal—as far as is known, anyway.
DARIA: I can imagine what that’s like entirely too well. I’ve had enough people looking into my brain lately. [stops, looks surprised] Listen to me, I sound like— [quickly turns her face away from Jane]
JANE: Like what?
DARIA: [looks back at Jane] I’m done here. Are you going back to class?
JANE: After I use the facilities. Wait for me?
DARIA: Sure. Any— [hesitates, then goes on] —anything for a friend.
They share a smile, though a fleeting one on Daria’s part.
6. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, MRS. MANSON’S OFFICE, LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
We see Mrs. Manson sitting with Daria at a table. A pile of inkblot sheets lies on the table in front of Mrs. Manson, unused as yet, and a closed file folder is by her right elbow.
MRS. MANSON: Now, Dora—
DARIA: [deadpan] Daria. D-A-R-I-A. My name is all I’ve got left to me. You may as well get it right.
Mrs. Manson frowns, opens the folder, and makes a note on some papers therein, saying “Mmmm.” She then picks up the first card and shows it to Daria.
MRS. MANSON: Daria, what do you see here?
DARIA: Did my sisters have to take this test? I wasn’t gone to the bathroom that long.
MRS. MANSON: Focus on the test, Daria, not what your sisters did or did not do here.
DARIA: [deadpan, but becoming angry] They got out of it, didn’t they? Was it the bouncy hair? Perky smiles? Vague threats of legal action?
MRS. MANSON: [irritated] Come on, Daria, I don’t have all morning.
DARIA: [glares, pause to look at inkblot, deadpan] It’s a picture of two people talking.
MRS. MANSON: Fine. Now, make up a little story for me about what they’re saying.
DARIA: [glares, deadpan] Sure. The big one is saying, “You lose,” and the smaller one is saying, “I always lose. Why is everything in life a rigged contest, and I don’t have a chance?” Now the big one is getting angry, and she pulls out a rulebook and shows it to the smaller one and says, “Here it is, right in the rules—you always lose, no matter what you do. No one cares what you achieve or how smart you are. All that matters is bouncy hair, and you don’t have it.” Then the big one stabs the little one and throws her body in the sewer, where starving rats eat it. All that’s left of her are her glasses, which aren’t stylish or even retro, so they’re thrown out. Bouncy hair wins. The end.
Mrs. Manson stares at Daria a long moment, then drops the card back onto the stack.
MRS. MANSON: [low voice] You may go.
DARIA: [stands up, angry] Do your worst. [exits room]
MRS. MANSON: [opens folder and writes in it, talking to self] Antisocial and potentially dangerous. Consider medication—Prozac?—if not already taking it. Search often for firearms, explosives, suspicious books, and cult symbols. Ask mother about possible use of crack during pregnancy. Should take the self-esteem class repeatedly until the end of the school year. Perhaps a stint as a cheerleader will help.
7. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, MR. DEMARTINO’S HISTORY CLASSROOM, LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
MR. DEMARTINO: Class! A new student is joining our relentless STRUGgle through the pages of HIStory. Will you please welcome Daria MORgendorffer, the oldest of the Morgendorffer quinTUPlets. [gestures at Daria with one hand]
DARIA: [frowns] Excuse me, but I’m not one of the Quinnts.
MR. DEMARTINO: [thinks she’s joking] Of COURSE you’re not. And I’m secretly Prince Charles in disGUISE.
BRITTANY: [confused look on her face] But Mr. DeMartino, isn’t Prince Charles really in New England somewhere?
MR. DEMARTINO: [annoyed] Brittany, you won’t be TESTED over what I just SAID.
BRITTANY: [brightens] Okay! Great!
MR. DEMARTINO: [to Daria and class] We are currently studying the westward exPANsion of the United States. It would be unfair to ask Miss Morgendorffer a question on her first day of CLASS, so we will try someone ELSE’S knowledge. Miss LANE!
JANE: [looks up from drawing in a sketchbook, in the back of the room] Damn.
MR. DEMARTINO: Miss LANE, please tell the class what you reMEMber about the doctrine of Manifest DEStiny.
JANE: [uneasy, thinking fast] It . . . had a lot to do with covered wagons. [closes eyes] Moving west. Taking over America. Land that would become America, I mean.
MR. DEMARTINO: Close eNOUGH, Miss Lane. [Jane looks relieved] It was a SLOgan used to justify westward exPANsion by American settlers, taking land that belonged to MEXico. Can anyone tell me the name of the WAR that this doctrine of Manifest Destiny was used to JUStify?
Daria raises her hand. Mr. DeMartino sees her, but he ignores her.
MR. DEMARTINO: Mr. THOMPson! The answer, PLEASE!
KEVIN: Uh, the Second World War?
MR. DEMARTINO: We’re working on the 1840s, Kevin, NOT the 1940s. Please try to keep up with the REST of us!
KEVIN: Um, the First World War? Or was there a war before that?
MR. DEMARTINO: I’m going to start DRINKING again if I can’t find a student who isn’t SUFfering from a NEURON deficiency!
Only Daria’s hand is raised. Mr. DeMartino sighs, unwilling to do this.
MR. DEMARTINO: [to Daria] I’m violating the STRICTest orders of the principal to never subject a Quinnt to public humiliATION, but I feel a need to earn my SALary, meager as it IS! Miss MORgendorffer—the answer, please!
DARIA: The Mexican War, or the War with Mexico.
MR. DEMARTINO: [visibly relieved, low voice] Once again, I dodge the bullet. [regular voice] Moving aLONG, would someone care to briefly exPLAIN how the entry of Texas into the Union was complicated by the issue of SLAvery?
Daria again raises her hand, the only student to do so. Mr. DeMartino ignores her.
MR. DEMARTINO: If no one can give me a one-sentence ANswer to that question, there will be a one-page essay quiz TOMORROW!
Students gasp and groan in horror. Daria is still the only student with a hand up.
MR. DEMARTINO: [ignoring Daria] Very WELL—an essay quiz it IS! Be prepared to wax at LENGTH on the entwined issues of Texas statehood and SLAvery. And Kevin—the Alamo had NOTHING to do with CAR rentals! Remember the OTHER Alamo!
KEVIN: What other Alamo?
DARIA: [hand still up] I know the answer to your question.
MR. DEMARTINO: [finally looks at Daria] Miss MORgendorffer, PLEASE—just give it a REST!
Daria lowers her arm, looking confused and a bit angry.
8. INT: THAT EVENING, DINING ROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME
We first see a brief exterior view of the Morgendorffers’ home, a pleasant mansion on a forested lot in Crewe Neck. Jake, Helen, and the five Quinnts sit around the dining room table. Three casserole dishes full of half-eaten lasagna sit before them. Daria’s space at the table is empty, but no one seems to notice.
QUILL KELLY: [in the middle of speaking] . . . but even if he’s kind of a wimp, Mr. O’Neil is very well read. He said we were going to read Romeo and Juliet, and I said—
QUALLA RAE: [staring morosely at lasagna on her plate] Can we please talk about hiring a chef again? We’ve had lasagna ever since—
HELEN: Qualla. Let Quill talk.
QUILL KELLY: [with a triumphant glance at Qualla Rae]. . . so I said, “If you don’t have a Shakespeare Club, can I start one?”
QUEENIE DAWN: [makes a face] You’re not actually going to read that junk, are you? It’s not even in English!
QUILL KELLY: I can read the Cliff Notes and wing it. Besides, it would look good on my academic resume.
QUALLA RAE: [sulky] Not.
QUINCY LEE: [rolls eyes] Oh, look who’s talking—Miss Mohawk Hair. A photo of that would have looked great on your resume.
QUALLA RAE: [ticked off] That was a great hairstyle! It put me in touch with my Native Indian Mohican ethnic roots!
QUILL KELLY: That’s Mohawk. Mohicans are another tribe, I think.
QUALLA RAE: Are not!
QUINN LOUISE: Qualla, you don’t have any Native American roots. None of us do.
QUALLA RAE: I meant spiritual roots! I have just as much native spirituality inside me as you have in your littlest fingernail!
QUINN LOUISE: [puzzled] I don’t think that came out quite right.
QUILL KELLY: [to Quinn Louise] No, it did.
QUINCY LEE: [finishing up large batch of lasagna] I’m on the track team, and the coach, Ms. Morris, said she’ll let me try out for girls’ basketball and soccer.
QUEENIE DAWN: Cool! Brittany and I will be cheering you on from the sidelines!
QUALLA RAE: Just use a lot of deodorant before you come home.
HELEN: How about you, Quinn? How was your day?
QUINN LOUISE: [sips hot green tea, casual] I met a charming little trio of fashion fans in our grade. I’m going to stop over and visit with them later this week. Two of them are ditzes, but one looks like she has potential.
JAKE: That’s great, sweetheart!
JAKE: [confused] What?
HELEN: [to Quinn Louise] Dear, let’s not call people ditzes. You have to give people here a chance to put their best foot forward, assuming they have one. Just remember, not everyone has your poise, charm, and beauty.
The other four Quinnts immediately look at Helen with narrow eyes.
HELEN: [gasps, quickly] Except for the rest of you, of course! You are all so special! My darling Quinnts!
The other Quinnts relax again. Quinn Louise sips her green tea, unfazed by this.
QUEENIE DAWN: I got to be a cheerleader today, and I joined the pep squad!
QUILL KELLY: [taking a bite of lasagna] Did you have to audition, or didn’t anyone have a couch?
HELEN: [aghast] Quill!
JAKE: [frowns] Couch? Why would you need a couch?
QUEENIE DAWN: [pissed, glaring at Quill Kelly] To make someone eat it.
QUINCY LEE: [calmly eating lasagna, to Queenie] I’ll hold her feet and arms. You jam the couch in. Her mouth’s big enough.
QUILL KELLY: [sneers at Queenie Dawn and Quincy Lee] Thou yeasty, common-kissing, pox-marked strumpets!
JAKE: Quill! [confused] What the hell was that?
QUILL KELLY: [air of satisfaction] Shakespeare.
JAKE: Oh! Sorry. Go ahead.
QUALLA RAE: Doesn’t anyone want to hear about my day?
ALL OTHER QUINNTS AT ONCE: No!
HELEN: I do! Go ahead, dear.
QUALLA RAE: [nasty looks at her sisters] Okay. First, I—
The telephone rings.
QUINCY LEE: [relieved] Saved by the bell.
Quill Kelly and Quincy Lee high-five each other. Queenie Dawn holds up a hand, but no one high-fives her, though she tries to get their attention. Qualla Rae stews in silence as Helen gets up from the table to answer the telephone.
HELEN: [to self] Wonder how they got our unlisted number. [on telephone] Hello, Morgendorffers. Yes. Oh, Ms. Li! What? Well, certainly Daria’s my daughter. [looks for Daria but doesn’t see her at the table] Oh, I see. Okay. Oh. Okay. Are you sure? I don’t understand. Oh. What do I have to do about it? Do I have to take off work and come in for a conference, or can I send one of my assistants? Oh. Well, I suppose that would be best. Okay. Okay. Thank you for calling. Bye. [hangs up telephone] Where’s Daria?
All of the Quinnts shrug.
QUILL KELLY: I think she’s hanging around with someone she met at school. Weirdo girl with a red jacket. Another outsider type, I think.
HELEN: [exasperated] Great! I bet it’s someone trying to get a story from her for those damn tabloids! I’ll put a stop to it!
QUINN LOUISE: What did Ms. Li want, Mom?
HELEN: Did you girls take a psychological test at school today?
QUEENIE DAWN: It was a mental test, so we were exempt!
QUINN LOUISE: [composed, calm] Nothing happened. I showed them your paperwork, dropped a few hints, and they backed down. Don’t worry about it.
HELEN: [steamed] Well, Daria had to take a test. Why didn’t you look out for her?
All the Quinnts shrug and look at each other.
QUINN LOUISE: We couldn’t find her after she walked off from our group. She must have gone in to see Mrs. Manson later.
QUALLA RAE: [under her breath] What a name! I still think she married—
JAKE: Helen, what did the shrink—uh, psychologist want?
HELEN: [exasperated] Oh, Daria has to take a special class after school for a few weeks. They said her self-esteem was low, and a lot of other things were going on with her but I couldn’t understand what that Ms. Li was ranting on about. Damn it! It’s always Daria! [to Quinnts] Why can’t Daria be like the rest of you?
The five Quinnts again look at each other, then look back at Helen.
QUINN LOUISE: [sighs gently, smiles] Couldn’t tell you, Mom.
The other Quinnts smile sweetly at Helen and Jake.
JAKE: [proudly] That’s my girls!
HELEN: [relaxes, but seems resigned] Well, I should talk with Daria tonight and see what’s the matter with her.
QUINN LOUISE: [clears throat] Mom, Waif magazine will be here in half an hour.
HELEN: [slaps a hand to her forehead] Oh, the interview! I forgot all about that!
QUILL KELLY: [to Helen] You’d better go change, Mom. [looks at Qualla Rae] And you’d better go hide.
QUALLA RAE: [smoldering] And you’d better go stick your head up your—
HELEN AND JAKE: Qualla Rae!
9. EXT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, DOWN THE STREET FROM THE MORGENDORFFER HOME
Daria and Jane are walking together from school, heading for Daria’s house on a street in Crewe Neck. Daria abruptly stops when her house comes into view. Several cars and vans are parked in the driveway and on the street, with the word WAIF written on them in pink script. For the most part here, Daria speaks in her usual deadpan.
JANE: [concerned] Feeling sick again?
DARIA: I will be. Waif magazine is having an interview with my sisters this evening. I forgot about it. We’d better not get any closer. Media people are worse than barnacles.
JANE: You wanna come over to my place? “Sick, Sad World” is on in half an hour. It’s a rerun, but it’s about that guy who sells cow-brain burgers. It was kinda inspiring.
DARIA: Just the thing I need to settle my stomach. Actually, you want to come with me over to my Aunt Amy’s? She moved here just before we did. She has an apartment in town and a big-screen TV.
JANE: Anything to eat?
DARIA: We always order out. Pizza, usually.
JANE: No contest, amiga, as long as she doesn’t mind me crashing the party.
DARIA: I’ll handle it. She’s a little overprotective, but she’s always been there for me.
JANE: Kind of like . . . [stops, appears uncomfortable]
DARIA: Kind of like a second mother, was that it?
JANE: Um . . .
DARIA: She’s not like my mom. Amy acts like I’m really here.
Jane looks sadly at Daria after this remark. They turn and walk back the way they came.
10. EXT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, AT A THIRD-FLOOR APARTMENT IN LAWNDALE
Daria and Jane finish climbing the steps to the outside walkway on the third floor of a large, attractive apartment block. Daria stops before one apartment door and knocks. After a pause, a woman with long brown wavy hair and comfortable but stylish Bohemian clothing opens the door. She gives Daria a broad smile.
AMY: Daria! How’s my favorite— [sees Jane, stops]
DARIA: It’s okay. This is Jane. [hesitates] My friend.
JANE: [holds out hand to Amy] Yo.
AMY: [doesn’t take Jane’s hand, flat voice, to Daria] You’d better come in, sweetie.
DARIA: [turns to Jane] You, too. Come on.
AMY: [hesitant] Um. . . sure, she can visit. For a little bit.
JANE: [irked] Don’t worry. I’ve had all my shots.
11. INT: A MOMENT LATER, INSIDE AMY’S THIRD-FLOOR APARTMENT
Amy Barksdale’s apartment is a two-bedroom affair with stylish, offbeat furniture, lots of green plants, and attractive, colorful artwork on the walls. A small blue device on the living room floor emits a gentle sound like rainfall (white-noise generator). A number of small devices are attached to the ceiling and walls (security and fire-alarm systems).
AMY: [sighs, motions Jane in] Can I get you something to drink? Milk, fruit juice, carbonated sodium-laced beverage with sugar and caffeine?
JANE: [enters apartment as Amy shuts the door] Sugar and caffeine, please, as much as allowed by law.
Daria takes off her backpack and drops it on the kitchen floor with a loud thump.
DARIA: [tiredly] Be right back. [walks off, shuts self in bathroom down the hall]
AMY: [looks after Daria, then turns to Jane, cool manner] So . . . how’d you two meet?
JANE: [carefully puts her backpack by the door] I watched her sisters storm the beaches of Lawndale High this morning, then caught up with her after the victory parade. She told me a lot about you on our way over.
AMY: [turns away from Jane, walks to kitchen window] I’ll bet.
JANE: Everything she said about you was good. I think she sacrifices goats to you at night. And she said you like to order out for pizza.
AMY: [looks out window] Hmmm.
JANE: [hesitates, looking uncomfortable] A lot on your mind?
AMY: [tense] Could be.
JANE: [getting tense] You know, if there’s something you want to say to me, this is a good time to do it.
AMY: [pause, looks at Jane, deep breath] Sure. I have a question. Who are you planning to sell your story to? [holds up a hand] Excuse me! I meant, to whom are you planning to sell your story? God forbid I should sound ignorant in a supermarket tabloid.
JANE: [frowns] What are you talking about?
AMY: I can guess what you’ll call it. “I pretended to be Daria’s best friend so I could get the scoop on her five super sisters!” That would be honest, at least.
JANE: [really pissed] Look, I’m not selling stories to anyone! She is my friend!
AMY: [darkly amused] Boy, have I heard that one before.
JANE: [shocked] Wow, people must have screwed your family over good back in Highland.
AMY: [turns to Jane, explodes] And they’re screwing them here, too! Those media bastards have used Daria like a dishrag to get to the Quinnts! It’s like not one of those toads believes in a Hell! [glares at Jane] How about you? Do you believe in Hell?
For several long seconds, Jane and Amy glare at each other.
JANE: [low voice] Boy, you really look out for her.
AMY: [pissed] You’re damn right I do.
JANE: Then why didn’t you catch this? [reaches into her red jacket, takes out metal flask] Was it your idea to send her to school with no cola to put in her bourbon?
AMY: [stares at flask, shocked] She was drinking again? Damn it, she can’t drink! Her medica—if she drinks, it’ll make her sick!
JANE: She’s on medication? That figures. Now I know why she was throwing up all morning. [unscrews flask top, empties it in kitchen sink] Maybe she’ll live a little longer now. [drops empty flask on the floor and crushes it flat with a stomp of her boot] There. [picks up flattened flask and throws it in a waste can] I’ll find my own way out.
Jane turns to leave, but she stops, startled. Daria stands in the hall entry to the kitchen, silently but anxiously watching Jane and Amy. Amy turns and sees Daria as well.
AMY: Daria! What about your pills?
DARIA: [low voice] I didn’t take them.
AMY: [losing it] But you took the ones for last night, and they’re still in your system! You can’t drink, and you have to take your medication! [puts hands on her head as if holding her brains in] Damn it, what do I have to do, Daria?
JANE: [to Daria, low voice] I should go. I’ll catch you at school tomorrow. [shoots dark glance at Amy, walks to door]
DARIA: [suddenly upset, to Jane] Jane?
Jane turns, waves to Daria, grabs her backpack, and opens the apartment door to leave.
DARIA: [very upset] Jane!
AMY: [sees the stricken Daria, then calls to Jane] Jane? Wait a minute!
JANE: [almost out of the apartment door] What? You have another handful of monkey crap to throw at me?
AMY: [chokes back her first response, then continues in a quieter and calmer tone] Come back. Please. [stiffly takes a seat at kitchen table] Shut the door first.
JANE: [angry] Is there a draft?
AMY: [forces self to be calm] No. The reporters use long-distance microphones and telephoto lenses. Don’t talk until you shut the door.
Jane’s glare relaxes. She carefully looks around outside—and spots a man aiming a portable listening device at her, next to a TV news van (with cameraman) on the street below. Jane closes the door then and reluctantly sits across from Amy at the table.
JANE: [mildly sarcastic] Have you swept the room for bugs?
AMY: [matter of fact] Once a week, and always after I’ve been gone longer than a day. I think my new alarm system is keeping them out, though. Quinnts Incorporated pays for the equipment. The white-noise generator masks conversation, too. Every little bit helps.
DARIA: [to Amy, low voice] Jane’s okay, Amy.
AMY: [takes a deep breath] I’ll take your word for it, for now. [to Jane] Look, I’m sorry. I just assumed that . . . well, we’ve had a lot of problems. It’s hard for me to trust people. We’ve been burned so many times.
JANE: [calmer, too] Maybe we should start over. [puts out a hand] Hi, I’m Jane Lane. I’m Daria’s friend.
AMY: [slowly shakes Jane’s hand] I’m Amy Barksdale. I’m her mother’s sister. Youngest sister. I used to be an art appraiser. Now— [looks around the apartment] —now, I’m on the Quinnts Inc. payroll, I don’t have to work at all, and I can be around my favorite niece as much as I want.
Daria, looking relieved, walks over and sits at the table between Jane and Amy.
DARIA: [to Amy] I screwed up on a psych test today at school. They’re putting me in an after-school class for self-esteem.
JANE: Hey, that’s great! That’s my class! I’ll be in there with you! [glances at Amy] Um, not that being there is all that great, but now I have someone to share the adventure.
AMY: [sighs, to Daria] How long will this class go on?
DARIA: Until they get tired of my attitude, I suppose.
JANE: They’ll never get tired of you. This will be my seventh time through.
DARIA: [to Jane] I took classes like that at Highland High eight times.
JANE: [surprised] You’ve got me beat. I think that’s a record.
DARIA: Why are you in a self-esteem class? You don’t have low self-esteem.
DARIA: [wide eyes] You like being in that class?
JANE: I work on my sketches here. Some great subjects come through every month. You should see my portfolio.
AMY: I’ll call Helen and see if there’s anything she can do to get you out of it. [sighs] How about we talk about our self-esteem over dinner first? Anyone for pizza?
DARIA: [smiles at Jane] Told ya.
JANE: [smiles] This is worth missing “Sick, Sad World.”
AMY: [smiles] You won’t miss it. [points to big screen TV in living room] I can record shows and play them back later. I watch SSW, too.
JANE: [cheery] I don’t believe this. Don’t pinch me. I don’t want to wake up.
12. INT: AFTER SCHOOL ON FOLLOWING DAY, MR. O’NEILL’S CLASSROOM, LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Mr. O’Neill begins his self-esteem class. Daria and Jane sit beside each other on one side of the room. Helen Morgendorffer obviously could not (or did not) get Daria out of it.
MR. O’NEILL: Esteem . . . a teen. They just don’t rhyme that well, do they? The sounds don’t perfectly mesh, just as in real life we find that—
DARIA: [low voice] Samuel Albertson, Building the Troubled Teenager’s Self-Image, chapter one.
MR. O’NEILL: [thrown off] Uh . . . [consults notes] . . . um . . . [looks surprised] . . . yes, that is the source, but let me get through this part so we—
DARIA: [deadpan] That text is from 1978. Don’t you have Reynolds or Klein or something else from this decade?
MR. O’NEILL: [uncomfortable] Well, the school’s annual budget did not allow for any new acquisitions for this class, so we’ve had to make—
DARIA: Is this self-esteem class focused on body image or personality or what? Will we have to role-play? Are we going to watch that video on “realizing your actuality” with the teenagers running through the fields holding hands and singing that—
MR. O’NEILL: [very anxious, checking class roster] Um, Miss . . . Daria Morgendorffer, I just want to get through the introductory section right now. I’m afraid we do have to see that very video. [pause] Are you by any chance related to the Quinnts?
MR. O’NEILL: Oh. Well, if we want to get out on time today, we’d better move along.
DARIA: And start actualizing our reality.
MR. O’NEILL: And . . . no, that’s not quite . . . why don’t we start the video right now?
Mr. O’Neill turns on the videotape and lowers the classroom lights. The TV shows a group of teenagers running through the fields holding hands and singing. Jane leans toward Daria. Both whisper.
JANE: [Darth Vader voice] You are the Master.
DARIA: [looks at video, bored] More like an unpaid peon.
JANE: I have to ask you something. Is your mom mad at me? I don’t get what she told your Aunt Amy on the phone last night, before I left.
DARIA: [pauses, looks at video, takes deep breath] Mom thinks you’re a media plant, and you’ll sell out our friendship to the National Inquisitor in a couple months for a few thousand dollars. She wants me to stop seeing you.
Jane is speechless with shock. She stares at Daria.
DARIA: [looks at video] We’ll just avoid my house and go to Aunt Amy’s or your place after school. I think Amy trusts you now. Don’t worry about it.
JANE: [comprehension dawning] Now I get it. I finally get it. All this stuff you’ve been saying to me, asking me not to tell anyone about your . . . about all that stuff—you thought I was going to sell you out, too. You thought I was scamming you for a tabloid.
DARIA: [looks at video, pause] It’s happened before, back in Highland. Twice.
Jane sags back in her seat and stares at Daria.
DARIA: [looks at video] I don’t have any friends, Jane.
JANE: [softly] What about me?
DARIA: [winces, looks down at her desk] Except you, I meant. Sorry. Not used to saying that. [swallows, looks at video again]
JANE: When I was walking home last night, a car followed me. This lady yelled out the window and wanted to know if I knew you.
DARIA: [looks at video] If it was a red Camry, that was Candy from Wild World Weekly. They’re trying to scoop the National Inquisitor on the Quinnts’ move here.
JANE: It was her. I gave her the finger and ran through a few backyards to get home.
DARIA: [looks at video] Get used to it. They never stop. [sighs] Let’s talk about something else. Do we have to do the body-image thing in here?
JANE: [slowly] Yeah. It’s for girls only. The boys go talk with a male teacher about—
BOTH: Nocturnal emissions.
Daria smiles slightly, though it disappears in a moment.
JANE: How many times did you say you’ve taken self-esteem classes again?
DARIA: [looks at video] Eight, not counting the visits to shrinks and group sessions. This is trip number nine.
JANE: This wouldn’t be a sibling-related thing, would it?
DARIA: [shrugs, looks at video] It’s just me. [pause] One of me against five of them, plus my parents, the corporation, the media, the fans, and the whole damn planet.
JANE: [after a pause] I’m the youngest of five, but they’re all gone except Trent, my brother. He’s okay, if you can catch him awake. He’s okay when he’s asleep, too, which is most of the time. My parents are almost always gone. Benign neglect serves us well.
DARIA: [looks at video] Some people have all the luck.
JANE: [tries a joke] You know, having low self-esteem makes me special.
DARIA: [looks away] At least you have self-esteem.
JANE: [sadly digests this last comment, then hands Daria her sketchbook] Here. See the grotesque wonders you’ve missed in the last six sessions.
Daria takes the sketchbook and begins looking at the distorted caricatures of students that Jane has drawn in it. After a few moments, a ghost of a smile crosses Daria’s face. Jane watches Daria as she reads. Slowly, Jane takes out a pencil and another sheet of paper, and she begins to sketch Daria—but in a very lifelike, undistorted way.
13. INT: LATE THAT EVENING, LIVING ROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME
All of the Quinnts and their parents are watching a giant-screen television in the huge living room (complete with piano and aquarium). Daria opens the front door in the background, quietly shuts it, and walks behind the living room couches to go into the kitchen.
HELEN: [watches TV, calls from couch without looking back] Hi, honey. Want to see your sisters on “Entertainment This Evening”? It’s on right after this commercial.
DARIA: I thought you and Dad were looking for office space for the corporation.
HELEN: [watches TV] Oh, we found a great spot in an industrial park outside town, Halcyon Hills. We got the top floor of the Gold Cube building.
JAKE: [watches TV] That’s the Meyers-Sloane building. They just call it the “gold cube” because it looks like a big gold cube.
QUINCY LEE: [watches TV] Shhh! We’re on.
QUALLA RAE: [watches TV] Shhh, yourself.
HELEN: [watched TV] Qualla.
QUALLA RAE: [frowns, watches TV, mumbles] Damn it.
Daria goes into the kitchen.
HELEN: [watches TV, loudly] Oh, Daria, take your medication! And I need to talk to you later, when—
ALL QUINNTS AND JAKE: [to Helen] Shhh!
Helen looks mortified but continues watching TV.
In the background, while the other Morgendorffers watch TV, we see Daria stop in the kitchen. She peers back into the living room, seeing what the others are doing, then quietly walks over to a cabinet and opens it. She takes out a small bottle, looks back into the living room, then closes the cabinet and walks off, out of sight.
14. INT: MOMENTS LATER, GARAGE, MORGENDORFFER HOME
We see Daria open the door into the garage. Carrying the bottle from the kitchen, she walks past garbage cans, stacks of unopened boxes of Waif magazines, the giant orange-red SUV and a dark blue executive-model Jaguar XJ (which also has the Q5 Quinnts Incorporated logo on it). She reaches a set of stairs that appear to have been recently built and climbs them to the space above the garage.
15. INT: MOMENTS LATER, DARIA’S ROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME
Daria walks up into an unfinished bedroom above the garage. The ceiling is low except in the middle; the rafters are bare, and pink insulation is visible. A cot sits in the middle of the room, with open boxes of books arranged on their sides like a long, multilevel bookshelf. No decorations are visible. A single small window is set in the low, triangular wall on either end of the bedroom space. Daria turns on a small TV by the foot of her cot, drops her backpack on the floor, lies down on the cot, and watches “Sick, Sad World,” her head propped up by an old pillow. Her face is impassive and does not change, even when “Sick, Sad World” pauses for a cheery commercial about a set of five fashion videos featuring the Quinnts. After a moment, she opens the small bottle from the kitchen and takes a drink, makes a bitter “yuck” face, then sighs and watches more TV.
16. INT: THE NEXT DAY, IN A HALLWAY AT LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Daria and Jane stand near Jane’s locker as she puts her books away. Daria appears mildly hung over. Many students are leaving school, as the last bell has rung. Down the hall at a water fountain are Quinn Louise and a tall, handsome student, Skylar.
SKYLAR: So, what sorts of things do you do after school?
QUINN LOUISE: Oh, nothing special. We have a teleconference scheduled for tonight, and I was going to jet to the west coast Friday evening, meet some friends in LA, go to a party or two in Beverly Hills. The usual.
SKYLAR: Would you like to see our yacht? We take it out on Rising Gorge Lake when it’s warm out.
QUINN LOUISE: What kind of yacht?
SKYLAR: [grins] Forty-footer. Sleek.
QUINN LOUISE: [has lost interest] Hmmm, I prefer the hundred-twenty, hundred-forties myself. They have all the basic amenities I need when I go out on the water.
SKYLAR: [deflated] Oh.
We turn back to Jane and Daria, who has been listening in. Quinn Louise and Skylar pay no attention to Daria and Jane, and don’t appear to even know they’re around.
JANE: [to Daria] At least she’s up front about it. [pause] She’s joking, right?
DARIA: Nope. She’s got her standards. The shallowest people in Hollywood bathe in her radiance every weekend, be it in the mountains or on the high seas.
JANE: [stunned] What about aircraft carriers? Does she like those, too?
DARIA: She might, if they’d clear off the flight decks so she could sunbathe.
We turn back to Quinn Louise and Skylar.
SKYLAR: Well, are your other sisters available for going out?
QUINN LOUISE: You’ll have to ask them. They handle their own schedules. Now, we do have one other sister, but— [drops voice to loud whisper] —she has mental problems.
Back to Daria and Jane. Jane blinks, a little shocked that Quinn Louise would say this. She glances at Daria. Daria’s face is impassive, though a muscle twitches in her cheek.
DARIA: [low voice, to Jane] The insanity’s hereditary. I get it from my sisters.
JANE: I wonder if they could catch a little insanity from you.
DARIA: [shoulders her backpack] Don’t think I haven’t tried.
JANE: Which revenge plots work best in your family?
DARIA: None of them. Forget it.
JANE: You’re a creative type, right? You could come up with something that—
DARIA: Drop it, Jane. [looks away] Let’s go see what Mr. Sensitive wants us to cry about today.
Jane looks surprised that Daria cut her off and didn’t take her hint. They walk off together without talking.
17. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, MR. O’NEILL’S SELF-ESTEEM CLASS, LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Daria and Jane sit together in their usual places.
MR. O’NEILL: So, class, when we talk about ourselves, who exactly are we talking about? Anyone?
Daria raises her hand.
MR. O’NEILL: [points to Daria] Yes?
DARIA: [deadpan] Is it possible to take the final exam for this class early and graduate now, instead of waiting two more weeks?
MR. O’NEILL: Um, no, I’m afraid not. Ms. Li recently set new special guidelines for our sessions. She will review the final test scores and decide who graduates.
DARIA: But she’s not a trained professional counselor like you. Shouldn’t you decide who graduates, and not her?
MR. O’NEILL: [uneasy] I’m afraid not. You see, there are special circumstances, and—
DARIA: Oh, I get it. They want me to stay in this class forever.
MR. O’NEILL: Well, no, not forever. [gasps] I mean, no, it doesn’t have anything to do with you, Daria! It’s just that . . . um . . . let’s go back to our question. Uh, what was it?
Another student raises his hand.
MR. O’NEILL: [anxious, to other student] Yes?
OTHER STUDENT: You wanted to know who we were talking about when we talked about ourselves.
MR. O’NEILL: Yes, excellent! That’s right, we’re talking about ourselves! Now, we talked today about changing our daydreams into reality. . . .
As Mr. O’Neill drones on, Daria mutters to herself.
DARIA: I’m trapped here. The psychologist must have set this up. Damn.
JANE: As long as we’re here, we should make good use of our time.
DARIA: Suicide is out. It would give the Quinnts too much satisfaction.
JANE: [winces at Daria’s comment] You still have your own life, you know. Do something for yourself.
DARIA: [silent for several seconds] No. Tried it, didn’t work.
JANE: [irked at this] You can’t just surrender and let them win, Daria.
DARIA: Watch me.
Daria leans forward and puts her head on her crossed arms on her desk, appearing to go to sleep. Jane looks on, startled—and then appears very angry.
MR. O’NEILL: [noticing Daria] Um, Daria, we’re not allowed to, um . . . oh, well. Does someone else have a special daydream they want to turn into reality tonight? Anyone?
18. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, SANDI’S BEDROOM, GRIFFIN HOME
Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany sit on chairs facing Sandi’s bed, which is where Quinn Louise sits cross-legged, elbows on her knees. A Fashion Club meeting appears to be in progress, but Sandi looks unhappy. Stacy and Tiffany stare only at Quinn Louise, ignoring Sandi entirely. Quinn Louise patiently listens to the goings-on.
SANDI: [to Quinn Louise] So you see, Quinn, it has been a constant struggle to keep the hopelessly unfashionable from waddling all over our most basic standards of dress and behavior. It’s a never-ending battle. What do you think, Tiffany?
TIFFANY: [to Quinn Louise] Whaaat kind of diiiet are you ooon?
SANDI: [to Tiffany] Excuse me, but we were talking about—
STACY: [to Quinn Louise] I want to know, too! Is there a diet that can make you really, really popular? Like, so popular that people don’t remember who you were before you started dieting?
SANDI: [angry] Stacy! I’m trying to conduct a meeting here!
STACY: [shocked] Eeep! I’m sorry! I was just trying to find out something that might really help me! I mean, help us!
SANDI: [irritated, transparent attempt at humor] Well, Stacy, why don’t you and Tiffany just impeach me and make Quinn president of the Fashion Club? Then you can talk about whatever you want and ignore me.
A brief silence falls. Stacy and Tiffany look at Quinn Louise as if they are considering exactly that idea and are on the verge of proposing it. A look of nightmarish anxiety crosses Sandi’s face as she, too, looks at Quinn Louise. Quinn Louise, perfectly calm, inspects her manicured fingernails, then looks up.
QUINN LOUISE: How about a break? Anyone want refreshments?
SANDI: [defeated tone] Uh, sure, whatever you like. We have some—
QUINN LOUISE: [points to Stacy and Tiffany] Would you two mind going downstairs and bringing up a few diet drinks?
STACY: Sure! [jumps to her feet, as does Tiffany] What do you want?
QUINN LOUISE: Oh, anything’s fine with me. [looks at Sandi] How about you?
SANDI: [dully looks at Quinn Louise, then looks down, faint voice] Anything diet.
QUINN LOUISE: [cheery] Great! [to Stacy and Tiffany] Listen, no rush. Sandi and I want to visit with each other for, oh, ten minutes. That okay? Then let’s talk some serious fashion. And maybe a little hot gossip—if you don’t mind hearing me complain about a few really strange Hollywood people!
STACY: [face shining] All right! [bolts for the door]
TIFFANY: [stares at Quinn Louise in adoration] Yooou are sooo coool. [hurries out]
Quinn Louise and Sandi look at the open door. Sandi sighs and leans back in her seat.
SANDI: [dully] That was fast. [tosses the Fashion Club notebook onto the bed in front of Quinn Louise] It’s all yours, Madame President.
QUINN LOUISE: [sharply] Stop it! [picks up notebook, throws it onto Stacy’s seat, gets up and shuts the door, then leans against it, looks at Sandi] You have said, three times this past week, some sort of baloney about you being impeached or imprisoned or whatever, and me taking over the Fashion Club. That is not going to happen, so stop it!
Sandi stares up at Quinn Louise, her face registering confusion.
QUINN LOUISE: [rolls her eyes] You have got to be kidding me. [pushes away from the door, walks over to sit in a chair next to Sandi, facing her] Do you know what I do?
SANDI: [hesitates] You’re a professional model, and—
QUINN LOUISE: I’m also the chairman of the official Quinnts Fan Club, which has a membership of over three-quarters of a million teen and preteen girls worldwide. Every Monday night at six, I have to listen to a teleconference with a bunch of talking heads crying about how the Olsen twins are cutting into our market share, everyone begging me for new ideas. [tilts head] You’re one of our founding members, with a lifetime subscription to Big Red Q magazine. I looked up your application last night. I appreciate your support and everything, but I want you to understand, right now, that with all the other crap I’ve got going in my life, there is no way I will ever challenge you for the presidency of a suburban high-school fashion society with only three members, including yourself.
Sandi’s face registers shock at first, then she turns red and looks ashamed.
SANDI: I’m sorry.
QUINN LOUISE: And I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have taken over and sent the girls off for drinks, which I think is really for you to do. They’re very sweet, but they’re your drones, not mine. I just had to clear the room and talk with you about this stupid thing we’ve got going before it goes any further.
Sandi nods, head down.
QUINN LOUISE: Sandi?
Sandi looks up, her eyes empty.
QUINN LOUISE: Do you know what I really need?
QUINN LOUISE: [intense look] I need a best friend.
Sandi blinks at Quinn Louise, her face blank with confusion.
QUINN LOUISE: I like you, Sandi. It’s not because you’re beautiful or you think you know clothes or you’re president of the Fashion Club. You’re all that, but I like you because I think you’re someone I might actually be best friends with.
SANDI: [astonished look, faint voice] Me? Why me?
QUINN LOUISE: [hard voice] Because you’re not a drone. I’ve been watching you over the last week. You run a tight ship. You like to keep things under control. I like women with backbones, women who stand tall, women who don’t let themselves get pushed around or run over by anyone. I don’t see one woman in a hundred who has what you’ve got, and I like it. [twisted smile] Don’t take this wrong, but you’ve got balls, Sandi.
Sandi covers her mouth, shocked but smiling. She appears embarrassed but delighted, her depression from moments earlier now fading.
SANDI: I can’t believe you said that!
QUINN LOUISE: [twisted smile] I call them as I see them—but not in public. What I’m telling you right now is straight. I save the bullshit for the rest of the world.
Sandi looks even more delighted, her face clearing.
QUINN LOUISE: [smile fades, voice hard] I need a best friend, Sandi. I had a best friend once, but she sold me out. Did you ever read that unauthorized tell-all about us, Inside the Q Machine? The one by Laura Hollingswood?
SANDI: [suddenly frightened, but then her face hardens as if she’s made a decision] Yes, I did. I still have it. You want me to throw it out?
QUINN LOUISE: [shakes head, low voice] Nah. It doesn’t matter. She said some things about me that were true, and some that were lies. I don’t care anymore. She used to be my best friend, back in Highland. The National Inquisitor got to her and helped her put the book together, and they paid her fifty thousand flat.
SANDI: [genuinely shocked] You’re kidding! Those dirtballs! I swear that I’ll never read that paper again!
QUINN LOUISE: [dry chuckle] It sucks, doesn’t it? My mom’s suing Laura and her family and that newspaper for libel, for everything they’ve got. That won’t fix anything, though. Laura sold me out, Sandi. My best friend since second grade sold me out. Now I don’t have anyone to talk to, no one at all, except stupid boyfriends and photographers and marketing people and hair stylists and people who laugh at all of my jokes and agree with everything I say. If I told them to kiss my ass, they’d actually do it, and they wouldn’t even blink. I’m sick of it. I want a real friend, someone who won’t bullshit me. [looks intensely at Sandi] You could be it. I have a gut feeling about you, that you and I are more alike than we seem. Does your mother drive you crazy?
SANDI: [bursts into shocked laughter] Yes! Oh, my God, yes, she does! She runs everything in my life as if—I mean, not everything in my life, but—yes!
QUINN LOUISE: So does mine. I hardly see her most days, but she’s cut and polished my career until I turn sixty. [increasingly heated] She’s got my contracts down solid, she’s all over the press like red lipstick on a dockside whore, but she doesn’t listen to a damn thing I say, not one single goddamn thing! I wish she’d harass my sisters and sue people and put out press releases and just leave me the hell alone!
Sandi stares at Quinn Louise in amazement—and understanding.
SANDI: You think I could actually be your best friend?
QUINN LOUISE: [quietly] It could work, but I’m not easy to get along with. I like my own way, but I need someone I can trust, who can tell me what she really thinks, and not lie. I don’t trust anyone now, and it’s making me sick. I have to have a friend. I have to.
Sandi blinks, then puts out her right hand.
SANDI: [heartfelt and sincere] You can trust me, Quinn.
QUINN LOUISE: [grim look] That is exactly what Laura said to me, right to my face, just before her book came out. Fifty thousand dollars, Sandi. They might offer you a lot more than that to sell me out. A hundred thousand. A half million. They’ll promise you the Moon and deliver it, if you’ll rat on the real me. They want my blood, and they don’t care how they get it. All I can give you is my friendship. And, I hope, my trust. [pause, smiles] And maybe some weekends in LA. It’s not a bad life, if you keep your eyes open and your head together.
SANDI: [puts both hands out, voice steady] I will never betray you, Quinn, I swear it, by everything that I am.
QUINN LOUISE: [studies Sandi’s face, then reaches for Sandi’s hands and takes them] I hope so, for both our sakes.
Sandi and Quinn Louise grip hands and stare unblinking at each other, their faces solemn and unreadable. Something passes between them, as if they have sealed a pact involving their souls. From their expressions, it seems unlikely that the pact is a holy one. Footsteps can be heard in the hallway outside the door.
STACY: [VO, outside the door] Quinn? Is it okay to come back in now?
Sandi and Quinn Louise slowly let go of each other’s hands, still staring at each other. Both smile, however. Quinn Louise nods her head toward the door.
QUINN LOUISE: [softly] She’s your drone.
SANDI: [to the door] Just a moment! [to Quinn, quiet voice] Thank you—for everything.
QUINN LOUISE: [low voice, smile] Thank you, Sandi.
SANDI: [has a thought] I . . . I did have one question, before the others come back in. That Daria, is she really your sister?
QUINN LOUISE: [nods] Yeah. She’s a brain. A real brain like Einstein, not a pretend brain like Quill Kelly. But she’s a loser, too. [wicked smile] Don’t worry about her. She won’t bother us. We took care of that.
Sandi nods. She looks at the door.
SANDI: Come on in!
19. EXT: AFTER SELF-ESTEEM CLASS, ON SIDEWALK HEADING HOME FROM SCHOOL, LAWNDALE
Daria and Jane walk together without talking. Jane looks angry; Daria looks depressed and keeps her head down. Abruptly, Jane bursts out.
JANE: All right, Morgendorffer, I’ll tell you what the problem is! I could understand that you thought I wasn’t really trying to be your friend! I could understand that you thought I was going to sell you out! But what I can’t understand—
Jane stops and stares down at Daria, arms spread. Daria stops and looks up at Jane.
JANE: What I just can’t understand at all, is how you—you just—you let it all happen to you! You just take it! You don’t fight back! What happened to you?
Daria says nothing, staring back.
JANE: On “Sick Sad World,” when you had your thirty seconds of fame, you had something! You had an attitude! You did your own thing! You were your own person! You weren’t drinking, you weren’t moping, you weren’t walking around like a wrung-out washcloth—you weren’t like you are now! Damn it, what happened?
Daria says nothing.
JANE: You were a writer! You said you were working on something, a story, a book, something, I don’t know what. You had this big story to tell, so where is it?
Daria’s mouth opens. After a long moment, she speaks.
DARIA: [monotone, low voice] They destroyed it.
JANE: [taken aback] They what?
DARIA: [louder monotone] Destroyed it. My sisters took my laptop and read my story, then they took it to my mom and dad, and they took my computer away. They had the hard drive wiped. All my stories, my poems, everything I’d worked on since I was thirteen. They wiped it all out, and they sent me to some shrinks in Houston for six months. Then we moved here. [pause] That’s all.
Jane is horrified. Her mouth is open and her eyes wide.
DARIA: [looks into Jane’s eyes, soft monotone] It’s okay. It doesn’t matter.
JANE: It does matter.
DARIA: [shakes her head slowly] It doesn’t matter. It’s gone.
JANE: But—but that was—when did this happen?
DARIA: [looks away for a moment] About ten months ago, middle of ninth grade.
JANE: They destroyed all your work? All your writing, your—
Daria turns away.
DARIA: Let’s go. [pause] It doesn’t matter now.
Jane is speechless.
DARIA: [calm and quiet] Let’s go.
Daria walks off toward Jane’s house. After a moment, Jane starts after Daria, and they walk together in silence.
20. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, JANE’S ROOM, LANE HOUSE
Daria and Jane sit on Jane’s bed, watching a television interview.
SICK SAD WORLD REPORTER: [on TV] UFO conventions were once sneered at as the domain of so-called crazies and kooks. Now they’re big business and draw hundreds of thousands of people each year, people as rational and sane as any of us, who come simply to satisfy a normal, healthy curiosity.
ARTIE: [on TV] Hi! I’m Artie!
SICK SAD WORLD REPORTER: [on TV] Artie, tell me what brought you here.
ARTIE: [on TV] It was a kind of cone-shaped craft, fifteen feet long, with an airspeed of about Mach twelve. These gray aliens kidnapped and stripped me, probed me, then returned my clothes and dropped me here.
SICK SAD WORLD REPORTER: [on TV] Um, I see.
ARTIE: [on TV] They pressed my pants, too. Check the crease. Nice work.
JANE: [watching TV] He’d be a fun date.
DARIA: [watching TV] Mmm.
JANE: [watching TV] I think there’s a UFO convention in Middleton next week. It’s during school hours, unfortunately.
DARIA: [watching TV] Mmm.
JANE: [watching TV] Makes me sick to think we have to go to school instead of doing something educational like meeting people who get daily telepathic transmissions from Saturn. I bet I could learn a lot from that.
DARIA: [watching TV] Mmm.
Jane picks up the remote and turns off the TV.
DARIA: [looks at Jane] Why’d you turn it off?
JANE: [staring at dark TV] You’re still drinking, aren’t you?
Daria doesn’t answer, and she looks away from Jane. A long silence develops.
JANE: [heavy sigh, staring at dark TV] Penny left her computer here when she went off to Guatemala. It’s kind of old, but it still works. I’ve used it to make labels a few times. The printer’s a dot matrix, and the ribbon’s old, but we could get a new one.
DARIA: [looks back at the dark TV] What kind of computer?
JANE: Dunno. Computers all look alike to me. [pause] Wanna see it?
21. INT: MOMENTS LATER, PENNY’S ROOM, LANE HOUSE
Penny’s room looks much as it did when shown in various scenes in “Fire!” (fourth season). The door opens. Jane comes in first and turns on the light, leaving the door open for Daria, who follows her in.
JANE: [walks across the room toward a closet door] Penny stuck it in here so she could lay her handmade jewelry all over the place, but it should be— [opens closet door] —fine. And it is.
Jane gestures at an old electronic word processor, c.1990, on the closet floor. Daria walks over and kneels down to inspect it.
DARIA: It still works?
JANE: Yup. Did last month, anyway.
They study the word processor without expression. Daria turns the small monitor around, studies the dusty typewriter-style keyboard, and wipes a finger across the top of the monitor. She looks at her dirty fingertip, then back at the device.
DARIA: It’s not really a computer. It’s a word processor. You can’t get on the Internet with it. [pause] It’s more like an advanced typewriter with memory. [checks the side of the typewriter-style keyboard] It has a place for a three-and-a-half-inch diskette for storage. It’s primitive.
JANE: I hear that Jane Austin liked hers.
DARIA: It beats writing on the walls with a charcoal stick.
Daria wipes her dirty finger on her skirt as she looks at the word processor. She stands up, still looking down at it. Jane steps up to her side, looking down as well.
DARIA: [deadpan] Someone will find it. It’s too big. All they have to do is turn it on, and pow, they’ve got me.
JANE: Not if they don’t find the diskettes, they won’t. You can erase your work on the hard drive and keep everything on the diskettes, and we can hide those. It even lets you put a password on the diskettes. That’ll keep most people out of them. [pause] It’ll keep me out, if you’re worried about that.
DARIA: [shakes her head] I’m not worried about you. You don’t know these people, Jane, what the media freaks will do. You don’t know my sisters, or my mom and dad. They get into everything. They get into my head, into my life, they took my laptop and—
Daria takes a ragged breath. She closes her eyes and pinches the top of her nose, her finger raising her glasses, until she controls herself again. She drops her hand, still staring down at the word processor.
DARIA: Jane, they even search Amy’s apartment. They can do that. I can’t keep anything anywhere unless I hide it, and hide it perfectly, and I can barely even do that.
JANE: [staring at Daria, incredulous] They search Amy’s place, too?
DARIA: Yeah. Don’t say anything to Amy. She’d blow higher than Mount St. Helens if she knew. I can tell they’ve done it, but she doesn’t know yet. I don’t want to tell her.
JANE: Why not?
DARIA: [pause] Because she might leave.
Jane stares at Daria, then nods and looks down at the word processor. Daria sighs and reaches for the closet door, closing it—but a moment later she opens the door again and looks down at the device, thinking hard.
JANE: We have an attic.
DARIA: [slowly shakes her head] The closet might work better. [pause] If they came in the house suddenly, and they came upstairs—and they didn’t find us together—they’d start looking for me right away. I can’t be too far out of sight, or they’d think something was up. I have to be . . . if there was a way—
JANE: What do you mean, if they got in the house? Your parents would break in?
DARIA: [deep in thought] Not necessarily. Trent might let them in. They might find the door open and come in. One of my sisters might sneak in. Quincy would barge in, and maybe Quill, acting like she’s Nancy Drew. Qualla would just walk in, Quinn would charm her way in, they’d all think of something. It would happen. I have to think.
JANE: The closet in my room.
DARIA: [pause] That might work. A false wall would help, but that’s too much to—
Daria runs a hand through her hair and sighs, as if realizing the futility of the plan. She drops her hand and looks at the word processor, then shuts the closet door.
DARIA: Let me think about this. It . . . I dunno. It . . . I could—
JANE: [softly] Just think about it.
DARIA: [exhales heavily] You know what it is? I just couldn’t go through that one more time, losing all my work, everything, just like that. [gets worked up, breathes heavily] It just . . . it was like everything . . . it was everything I had—
Daria breaks off and clamps her hands over her face, fingers shoved under her glasses to cover her eyes. She chokes and trembles. After a terrible moment, she wins the fight for self-control and drops her hands. Her face is red and rigid, and she bites her lip.
JANE: [quickly] We can back up all your work on diskettes and hide ‘em. We can make separate copies and put them in different places, here in the house. There’s a floorboard under Penny’s old bed that pulls up. She used to hide her dope there. No one will ever find them. Penny might come back, but we can hide them even from her. I’ve done it before. If I didn’t hide my money, Penny, Summer, Trent’s pals, my parents, everyone would get into it. If I can hide money from them, you can hide your diskettes, too.
Daria swallows, her face working. After a few moments, she takes off her glasses and wipes her eyes with the palms of her hands, then puts her glasses back on. She sniffs, then exhales and thinks. Slowly, she turns into her usual expressionless self.
DARIA: [dully] It might work, but they can’t find anything. They’ll send me away next time, if they think I’m out of control. You won’t see me again. They can’t even find one diskette, one scrap of paper, nothing. They just can’t. And we can’t tell anyone, not even Amy. It’s crazy to even think about it. It’s so hard to get worked up over it, but it might work. [looks up at Jane for a long moment] Yeah. [another long pause] Thank you.
JANE: [softly] That’s what friends are for.
Daria stares up at Jane.
DARIA: I want to tell you that . . . the first time you said that, when we were in the restroom at school, I didn’t believe you. [pause] I didn’t believe you at all. I’m sorry.
JANE: I understand. [raises an eyebrow] You could make it up to me.
JANE: Oh . . . buy me a pizza. Garlic breadsticks, too. Maybe some chicken wings.
DARIA: Hmmm. I could do that. [pause] Maybe Amy would want some, too.
JANE: Maybe. Wanna call her from here? Go for a visit?
DARIA: [pause] Okay. Let’s take that back way so we can’t be seen from the street.
After a moment, Daria starts for the door, where she stops and turns to Jane.
DARIA: I . . . I don’t want this to come out in a dumb way, and I don’t want this line of conversation to turn completely stupid . . . but I’ve never had a friend before. [pause] Amy, I guess, but she’s more like, I don’t know, a guardian, a friendly adult, not really my friend. I can share things with her, but it’s not the same. No real friends, ever.
Daria and Jane stare at each other.
JANE: Other than Trent, I don’t have any friends, either. I get along with people, sort of, but . . . this is a good place to stop. It’ll get stupid if we go on.
DARIA: [nods and leaves the room] Let’s call Amy and get that pizza.
JANE: [following Daria] Remember, you’re buying.
DARIA: [VO] I knew you were only using me for my money.
JANE: [VO] At least you have money. I spent all mine last week on glow-in-the-dark paint.
22. INT: DAYS LATER, AUDITORIUM, LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
The five Quinnts sit in a row on stage behind Principal Li, who stands at the podium and is speaking to the school audience in the auditorium.
PRINCIPAL LI: In a moment, we’ll hear from each of our esteemed Morgendorffer Quinnts on their undoubtedly positive feelings about being at Laaawndale High! I’m sorry their sister or cousin or whatever she is, Dora, isn’t here, but no matter. First, however, I want to talk about the bake sale, which was a tremendous success! We raised over four hundred dollars! I’m afraid the money was subsequently stolen from the office, but we have a little plan in motion to get it back, fear not! In an unrelated note, the school nurse will be visiting homerooms tomorrow to collect DNA samples.
While Ms. Li gives the above speech, the Quinnts trade whispers among themselves.
QUINCY LEE: I’m bored already.
QUINN LOUISE: Shhh. Smile.
QUALLA RAE: Is Daria really sick? I don’t want to catch what she’s got.
QUILL KELLY: I sure don’t want to catch what you’ve got.
Qualla Rae glares at Quill Kelly.
QUINN LOUISE: Shhh.
Qualla Rae and Quill Kelly now glare at Quinn Louise.
QUEENIE DAWN: Aunt Amy said she had some kind of fever and needed to see a specialist. I don’t see what’s so special about her that she needs a special—
QUINN LOUISE: [teeth gritted] Shut up.
Queenie Dawn glares at Quinn Louise.
QUILL KELLY: Daria’s outsider friend isn’t in school, either. Maybe she caught what Daria’s got.
QUINCY LEE: We can always hope.
QUALLA RAE: I’ve got three dates coming this weekend. I can’t afford to be sick.
QUILL KELLY: Same here.
QUEENIE DAWN: You’ve got only three dates? Wow, I’ve got almost twen—
QUINN LOUISE: [very tense, but smiling] I swear that if you don’t shut up right now—
PRINCIPAL LI: [her speech done, turns to Quinnts] And now, let’s hear from the queens of self-esteem—the Quinnts!
To thunderous applause, Quinn Louise gets up first and walks to the podium. Once there, she murmurs thanks to Ms. Li, then looks out over the audience. Her gaze falls on Sandi Griffin in the front row center, who gives her a big smile. Quinn Louise smiles back.
QUINN LOUISE: [to audience] Thank you! I can’t think of any reason to be anywhere else in the universe today but right here at Laaawndale High School!
Wild applause follows. We cut away from her rest of her speech to go to the next scene.
23. INT: AT THAT VERY MOMENT, AT A UFO CONVENTION, MIDDLETON
Daria, Jane, and Amy walk into a huge, colorful, noisy convention exhibition room filled with booths devoted to UFOs, alien visitations, and various space-age conspiracy theories. Contrary to rumor, Daria and Jane do not appear ill in the slightest.
DARIA: Over there—let’s get our picture taken with that cardboard alien, the one with the big eyes.
AMY: If they don’t mind taking it while I’m grabbing his crotch, sure.
JANE: [to Daria] She’s not picky about her dates, is she?
DARIA: She’s an equal opportunity dater. Any alien, any planet, any time.
AMY: As long as he’s got something that takes two hands to hold, we’re go for launch.
JANE: Such a romantic.
DARIA: Earth girls are easy. Everyone knows that.
At this moment, Artie sees the three women and walks up.
DARIA: [eyeing Artie’s approach] And here’s our First Contact.
ARTIE: [to the trio] Hi! I’m Artie. I was kidnapped by extraterrestrials and subjected to intimate medical probes. Wanna hear about it?
Daria takes Jane by the elbow and leads her away.
DARIA: [to Artie, indicating Amy] She’d love to.
JANE: [shouts to Amy] Remember, use both hands!
AMY: [glares at departing girls] You owe me, damn it!
ARTIE: [to Amy, excited] So, you’re from Earth, too?
Daria and Jane exchange cheery smirks as they walk away. We pull back from the new friends and the UFO convention and bid them farewell.
END OF QUINNTS EPISODE #101 “EXTREMESTERS”
Original: started 7/2002, completed 5/3/03; revised 5/5/03, revised 8/4/03