That state teacher's convention was meant to be a parody of the US
education system, but unfortunately this is no longer possible thanks
the nature of the US education system. The whole "failure is
success" (with the unspoken corollary "success is failure")
line is too close to the things actually advocated by the Progressive
Theory of education, which has been in control of the public education
system since the mid '50s. This kind of Orwellian doublespeak is so
common in teacher's education courses that it's simply impossible
to parody the system, as even accurate portrayals of the system are
beyond parody. Reading the sort of things it takes to get a teaching
certificate is metaparody of a sort, and Mr. O'Neill is just too accurate.
I think this is, on the whole, one of the better episodes this season.
Daria, at least, is in character, and it's about time she got one
of her Classic endings.
Kevin and Brittany were way overused this episode, and this season
in general. They're one-joke characters, and they just plain don't
wear well in scenes lacking Daria or Jane. I mean, even the other
cheerleaders are contemptuous of Brittany's intellect. There's only
so much you can do with that.
Trent and Tom were handled well this episode, although Tom didn't
really have a purpose here, except perhaps to slightly reinforce his
attraction to nonconformists. This somewhat ties in with "A Tree
Grows in Lawdale" and Kevin's bout of conforming to nonconformity.
Is Tom just rebelling against his family, or is there really something
Jodie's scene with her parents is an extension on "Gifted"
and it looks like Jodie's getting very weary, and that's at least
starting to parlay itself into depression. Although we've seen very
little indication of what her relationship with Mack is like, the
little cuddling-in-class scene shows she's probably relying on him
for emotional support quite a bit.
Jane going valley girl... oh deary, deary me. I think Daria's scream
sums that one up. It's really hard to believe her seriously picking
this as her assignment.
She remarks that she finds it easy to fit in, and in some ways she
is correct. After all, to fit in all you have to do is shut off your
brain and let the peer group make your decisions for you. All this
requires is no morals, no shame, and no thinking. Jane's exhibited
the first before in "See Jane Run" and it took a confrontation
with Daria to set her straight. The second is also required to be
an individual. The latter is something Jane's also done before, although
only in a way, as she's thrown herself into her paintings to distract
herself. However, she's not good enough at it to be popular, as her
little daydream shows. Daria knew this wasn't going to work.
Daria's reaction to Jane's new outfit, while perfectly appropriate,
doesn't quite mesh with the rest of the series. Between "Through
a Lens Darkly" and "Quinn the Brain" Daria doesn't
have much right left to criticize on this, although at least in "Quinn
the Brain" it was for a very short-term, definite goal.