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Running for five seasons on MTV, Daria was a big deal around the turn of the century. This was partly due to MTV only recently having gotten into the animated comedy game with Beavis and Butthead. The perspective of the animated comedy was also fresh, and as it turns out Daria was exactly what MTV was looking for in the latter half of the 90s. Recently, co-creator Glenn Eichler explained exactly why Daria--a side character on Beavis and Butthead--got her own series. To put it bluntly, it was because MTV wanted more female viewers:
MTV had no female viewers. I wouldn't not use the word 'desperate.'
Per what showrunner and co-creator Glenn Eichler had to say, MTV was just then attempting to gear toward the females of the species. They wanted a female-led show so desperately that Eichler told Variety his team didn't even have to pitch the show. In fact, he called it a "unique" time at the network, as the network was still trying to figure out what worked in terms of programming. Jumping more into female viewership was just one of the ways MTV was trying to accomplish it.
It's sort of hard to imagine a world in which MTV really needed ladies to tune in. The network's bread and butter is currently shows like Teen Mom 2 or The Shannara Chronicles that do often gear toward females. Past iterations of MTV shows including but not limited to The Hills and Laguna Beach.
Currently MTV is going through another rebranding, albeit not necessarily a female-geared one. After spending a few years working on building its lineup of original programs, the network said about a year ago that it was hoping to go in a new direction, again. More recently, MTV specified that it would like to jump back in to more music-oriented programming, as well as unscripted shows. Unscripted is the new scripted, apparently. At least, it's certainly cheaper.
As for Daria, the animated comedy is still a very memorable MTV program, and Eichler says he still hears about how the female-driven comedy helped plenty of people.
I've had a lot of people say to me, you know -- that show really got me through high school. And for the first 10-15 years they said that to me, I'd be like oh yeah, okay, sure. But now I'm starting to like hearing that. I'm glad people liked it. And I'm glad they still like it. It makes me feel like the work was worth it.