MTV has tapped Tracee Ellis Ross to voice the lead of an upcoming Daria spinoff called Jodie. As wary as any mortal should be about MTV daring to reboot anything these days, a cartoon about Jodie Landon—the token black girl of the seminal ‘90s cartoon—might be cause for some cautious optimism.
The Wrap reports that the new series will follow Jodie “as she comes into her own and enters the workplace in her first post-college job in tech.”
In a statement, Ross said that she is “thrilled to bring this project to life with MTV” as both executive producer and voice actor for the titular role:
“Being able to give voice to fresh, feminist and unexplored stories of young women excites me. ‘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.”
Given that Jodie was a member of the 2002 class of Lawndale High, it’s unclear whether the show will take place in the late ‘00s or if timeline will be thrown out the window entirely and will instead be set in our current Facebook/Twitter/Google/Instagram/TikTok/Post-Vine hellscape. Regardless, this might be a reboot that is actually worth keeping an eye on.
Jodie has repeatedly been the center of personal essays in recent years, becoming the ultimate archetype of black girls coming-of-age in white suburbs. While she was a side character for most of Daria’s 1997-2002 run, the episodes in which she occupied a larger role remain memorable. Jodie was one of the few characters who could see through Daria’s wall of misanthropy. And despite Daria’s lack of diverse characters, Jodie’s blackness was never put on the back burner; it was essential to the season two episode “Gifted” in which she lamented the pressure she feels to be the perfect black role model at a very white school, and in the Daria series finale Is It College Yet?, Jodie was usually seen fighting tooth and nail to convince her parents to let her attend a historically black college.
Jodie’s bite and integrity still hold up, so it’s fair to question whether MTV and Ross should even dare to mess with a good thing. We’ll find out soon enough.