Last Thursday, MTV Studios announced that Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) will voice and executive produce their animated spinoff Jodie, based on the ’90s cult show Daria. It will be the first in the lineup of the Daria Universe and is expected in early 2020, though no network is attached at this time. Grace Nkenge Edwards (Insecure) will be the head writer.
Now it seems like recently we’ve been inundated with remakes, adaptations, reboots, and spinoffs, all eager to cash in on nostalgia and take their creative risks within the safe confines of an established series. Some are good omens for the trend, others … not so much. This model was precisely the idea when MTV launched MTV Studios last year to mine their old content — including Daria and The Real World — repackage it, and sell it to streamers. But a spinoff following Jodie Landon feels like a natural spinoff that should have happened ages ago, especially since the titular series was itself a spinoff of Beavis and Butt-Head (Spinception?). I’m glad it didn’t, because the world needs Jodie right now.
“Jodie will spin off from the cult classic Daria, and with the brilliant, sweet, and sarcastic black girl magic that is Jodie Landon, we will feature a diverse cast, comprised mainly of unapologetically smart and ambitious young female characters who are vulnerable and flawed and interesting and funny. As a very cool bonus, Jodie will be the first adult animated show in almost 20 years that will star a black woman. It will be a smart, funny workplace comedy full of commentary about everything from gentrification to sex to tech to call-out culture.” — Tracee Ellis Ross
Out of the entire supporting cast, Jodie Landon is definitely the character that has the most potential for her own story, which was actually her main struggle in Daria. Jodie is extremely intelligent and well-adjusted, but is constantly under pressure from her parents to excel and be the model black woman in a white world. She has incredible self-control around her white peers, only letting her quick wit and sarcasm slip out when she is around Daria. She’s at times resentful of her role as the “Queen of the Negroes” and above all just wants to live her own life without being defined by her blackness (or rather other people’s perception of blackness). When we leave Jodie at the end of the show, she’s on her way to Turner, a historically black college she applied to behind her parent’s back. Though they originally pushed her to choose Crestmore, they eventually support her decision to attend a college where people won’t think “[she] got in just because she’s African-American.”
Able to pursue her own ambitions, the spinoff catches up with Jodie “as she comes into her own and enters the workplace in her first post-college job in tech.” Having gone from “The Queen of the Negroes” in high school to surrounding herself with black culture in college, Jodie will have a unique take on the issues facing black women today. Working as a black woman in tech is the perfect setting to hit the head on a lot of nails. Even though it’s a spinoff, Jodie has lots to unpack and with Tracee Ellis Ross on board, it looks like they’re doing it right.