There was always something odd about Lawndale in the MTV classic Daria. And what better way to learn about the town than through its horrific suburban legends in the season four episode “Legends of the Mall”?
The Big Picture
The perpetually agitated Mr. Morgendorffer has to pick up Quinn and her friends from the mall. What should be a simple enough task is ruined when his car breaks down. Now the girls have to take the bus, only to get lost at the other side of town. Walking home is their only option, and during their arduous journey they share the bone chilling tale of the “Rattling Girl of Lawndale.”
Content warning: the Rattling Girl of Lawndale deals with themes relative to disordered eating.
Meanwhile, Mr. Morgendorffer, still under the impression that Quinn is abandoned at the mall, is about to have a second heart attack stressing out about how to get her home. Fortunately, Trent comes to the rescue and offers to give Mr. Morgendorffer a ride. But Trent is, well, Trent. So Daria and Jane join the fun to offer Mr. Morgendorffer some emotional support. Together the quartet bask in the haunting legends of “Metalmouth” and “the House of Bad Grades.”
“Some people say that’s what drove him to madness. Others say, you know, no.”
Daria‘s sardonic view of the world made satire a trademark of the sitcom. The monotone and cynical characters encapsulate the perpetual dread that being a teenager ensues, and these suburban legends only heighten their misery. The stories in “Legends of the Malls” are goofy parodies that tackle subjects of insecurities and existential dread, supported by the standard horror camera panning and suspenseful music tropes. If you look hard enough, you might catch some of the true crime references the writers threw in there.
“Legends of the Mall” is a silly episode, but I admit there are elements I’m still slightly perturbed by. In “the House of Bad Grades” a girl’s family accidentally buries her alive while the sound effects in “Rattling Girl of Lawndale” gives me the absolute creeps.
Yes you should watch this episode. Of course you should watch Daria. You think I’m going to tell you to not watch Daria? Who do you think I am? Make that mistake again and I’ll send the Rattling Girl, Metalmouth and the House of Bad Grades Ghost after all of you.(4 / 5)