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July 1, 2010 Comments (23) Views: 10456 Television

Are They Or Aren’t They?: Jane Lane

The recent DVD release of Daria: The Complete Animated Series has been a godsend to fans of MTV’s original snarky teen. It’s been eight years since the series ended, but the characters and storylines remain relatable. The backbone of the series has always been the relationship between Daria and her BFF (although she’d never call her that) Jane Lane.  After meeting in a self-esteem class, the two quickly become friends and, despite a few rough patches, maintain a close relationship throughout the series. How close of a relationship the two shared was a cause of much speculation during the show’s original run.  Today we examine one half of the Daria/Jane duo and ask the question: Is Jane queer?

Why she might be gay: Although Jane exclusively dates men in the series, these relationships are rather short lived, and even series creator Glenn Eichler has stated that he can see Jane as being “straight and curious.” During the first of the Daria telemovies, Is It Fall Yet?, we find Jane separated from Daria both emotionally and physically. Having broken up with boyfriend Tom (who then begins dating Daria), Jane retreats to an artists’ colony where she meets the like-minded Alison (voiced by bi rocker Bif Naked). The two hit it off as quickly as Jane did with Daria, but the relationship hits a snag when Alison propositions Jane.  Jane, who has always identified as straight, begins to question her orientation and seeks Alison’s advice on the matter. Unfortunately, this conversation never happens as Alison instead chooses to run off with another artist in the hopes of furthering her career.

Why she might not be: The above is a fairly apt example of the tired “innocent and confused teen lured into homosexuality” trope. The Jane that Alison hits on is in a somewhat vulnerable state. In many ways her world has been turned upside down. Daria, the one source of stability in Jane’s life, has betrayed her. Jane approaches Alison looking for a friend, not a lover.  It’s Alison who single-handedly tries to instigate a romantic relationship that nonetheless causes turmoil in Jane.  Furthermore, the resolution of Jane’s identity crisis is characterized as being a return to her old self as opposed to finding security with a newly discovered self.

Why she should be gay: Jane’s evolution from straight to queer would be a refreshing look at the fluidity of sexuality. As much as the world needs more gay and lesbian icons, characters who forgo labels altogether are nice too. The term “bi-curious” is laden with negative connotations in the gay community, which really is a shame. The Jane Lanes of the world need to rise up and establish a positive attitude towards safe sexual exploration.

Why she should stay in the closet:
Problematic issues with Jane being “lured” into homosexuality aside, the series is over.  Characters like Daria and Jane have been replaced by a new generation of outsiders and misfits.  Having Jane come out today would elicit a reaction from only die hard Daria fans (and an ecstatic “I knew it!” from Daria/Jane shippers). Outing Jane when the show was still on the air would have made a big splash; doing it now would be the equivalent of J.K. Rowling outing Dumbledore…in 2020.

Do you think Jane could be gay? Join the discussion here.

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