Tracee Ellis Ross will star in and executive produce ‘Jodie,’ an animated spinoff series of the MTV original ‘Daria, which ran from 1997 to 2002 and was a satirical fan favorite.
In the original series, Daria and her artsy best friend Jane Lane were nerdy out-casters who fought against conformism within their suburban high school. One of the few students Daria genuinely respected outside of Jane was Jodie Landon, the “token black girl” who managed both scholastic excellence and popularity. Jodie’s character was all about excelling, and she felt compelled to do so. At the end of the original series, she decided to attend an HBCU instead of an Ivy League university, telling her parents she “wanted to stop being the black kid and just be a kid.”
MTV approached Tracee Ellis Ross about developing a revival of the beloved animated series but through the eyes of Jodie, and she jumped at the opportunity. “I was in before we even sat down,” Ross said. “They felt that I would be the right voice to bring Jodie to life, and I was like, whaaaaaaat? It was the perfect mash-up of all of the things that I want represented in the world…Jodie was woke before woke was a thing!” Ross stated.
The series picks up as the characters graduate from college and enter the working world. Jodie “will navigate through all of these different areas, from tech culture to call-out culture to how race and identity makes its way into the workplace,” according to Ross, as well as “how you start to explore identity when you are becoming an adult, when you’re no longer in the safety of your parents’ home.” So yes, we can expect cameos from Daria, and some of the other characters and Tracee has confirmed.
“To have the sidekick character move to the forefront is a real metaphor for what is happening in our culture,” Ross said, noting that there hasn’t been an adult animated show centered on an African American female character for more than a decade (the last being BET’s short-lived series, Hey Monie!). “Allowing in those voices that have been pushed to the fringes, that have lived full and extraordinary lives on the edges of what culture has deemed as popular—it feels exciting and apropos.”
Chris McCarthy, MTV’s president, expects ‘Jodie’ to premiere by early 2020. McCarthy said, “People don’t like Daria and Jodie—they love them. There’s a deep, deep passion,” he said. He hopes the series will lure back some of the show’s original fans along with their kids, but its stories will be firmly focused on Gen Z concerns.
We love you Daria, but it’s Jodie’s turn now. Will you be tuning in?