Born with an explosion of artistic talent, Jane Lane is the spicy roll of Lawndale High. She has a rock solid self image, and it is matched with pure confidence. Quinn may have won the gold for Miss Complicated, but Jane has won the title for the most interesting character on the show. She knows what she wants and chooses the path of outcast at Lawndale High just to achieve it. This means Jane is destined to befriend Daria (“birds of a feather…”). Though, Jane is more original than Daria because she lives by her own rules. She is her own teacher, and by taking a brief look at her upbringing, it’s not hard to understand why.
Jane is born to a herd of cats. Her mother, father, and siblings are all independent thinkers who are blessed with their own talents and live life based on those talents. So the Lane family lifestyle is a free-for-all, which heavily contributes to Jane’s unusual way of thinking. Jane has spun a web of her own ideas, and those ideas has built thick armor for her to expel the negativity around her. On the contrary, Jane’s ideas do cage her and prevent her from seeing the bigger picture. Luckily, Daria holds the key to unlock that cage as we learn soon after they first met.
In the very first episode “Esteemsters,” Jane meets Daria in a self-esteem class held for people who truly lack self-confidence compare to the rest of the student body and people who purposely don’t conform to the mainstream ideals. Of course the latter describes Jane and Daria, but Jane chooses to repeat this class because of her that colorful mind of her. Daria asks, “I don’t get it Jane, you got the entire course memorized, how come you can’t pass the test and get out?” Jane then sarcastically replies, “I can pass the test, but I like having low self -esteem. It makes me feel special.” Jane is implying that she enjoys observing the politics of high school. She submits herself as a pawn and watches closely as the social structure labels her as a certain character and expects her to play the role of that character. And she plays that role quite well. In simple terms, Jane is stimulated by Lawndale High’s social hierarchy, but why? Remember, Jane is an artist. Being submissive in this situation allows her mind to explode with concepts for her creative projects. Daria, on the other hand, is the opposite. She finds her school, especially the self-esteem class, oppressive since she constantly thinks in the future. Therefore, Daria convinces Jane to do the same.
If you haven’t guessed it already, Jane lives in the moment. Like a true artist, she observes the emotions and outcomes of the present. As a result, Jane repeats the self-esteem class because, in the moment, it gives her pleasure to know that Lawndale’s “officials” recognize that she is different (even if they see being different as a negative characteristic). Also the class gives her pleasure to see the idiotic methods used to indoctrinate outcasts. However as I mentioned, Daria is able to convince Jane to expand her perspective. Daria says, “You know all the answers to the questions on the release test, right? Why don’t we just take the test tomorrow and get out of the class once and for all.” Once again Jane gives a cynical response and answers, “how would I spend my afternoons?” And Daria brilliantly replies, “UFO conventions.” Basically in this very instance, Jane realizes that she has found a like-minded companion and becomes open to the idea of quickly sailing through high school with a friend, instead of observing the sharks alone.
Now if the sharks were as observant as Jane, they will notice that Jane’s main weakness is romance, which is not surprising. Her older siblings have a history of multiple romantic encounters, so it is inevitable that she is victim to the same fate. First, Jane holds a shallow crush on her brother’s friend, Jesse. The Jesse fling is based solely on appearance because Jesse’s one-track mind is incapable of noticing Jane’s feelings. But Jane and her morbid humor doesn’t seem to mind this small detail. I would not be surprised if she wants the beautiful Jesse as her sex slave much like the love dynamic between Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Rocky from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Anyway, her obsession with Jesse fades as she meets Evan in the episode, “See Jane Run.”
You’ll begin to notice as I run down the hall of men in Jane’s life that she is attracted to guys solely based on interest. This is an extremely bad habit and the consequence of this type of relationship is perfectly illustrated in the movie, 500 Days of Summer. It can never work out because a relationship demands more than an exchange of likes and dislikes. So at the end of “See Jane Run,” Jane learns that Evan is not worth her time. Her relationship with Evan ironically foreshadows her more serious relationship with Tom Sloane.
Jane meets Tom at a club, and after an exchange of cynical jokes, they become glued to one another. They enjoy their days spontaneously while mocking their one-dimensional, small town. Everything seems perfect on the surface, but both candidates begin to grow bored with their relationship. And what is worse, Jane is extremely idealistic. She naively thinks she can somehow save her romance with Tom by ignoring her feelings and occupying their time with frequent outings to the local movie theater and pizza parlor. Her efforts did not work, and the relationship ended in the most painful way.
Feeling vulnerable, Jane reverted to her old ways. She isolates and distracts her herself, and it chips away at her relationship with her best friend. This is when Nathan comes in the picture. Nathan becomes Jane’s rebound date. Jane already knows that he is not her match, but her break up with Tom drove her to careless behavior. It is to no surprise that this relationship ended immediately after it started. Though on the positive side, Jane deliberately focused on her art, which will soon end up as her career.
Wow! Jane is more complex than I initially gave her credit for. She is a walking canvas, which people cannot help but notice. (Even in the episode “This Year’s Model,” the model scouts spot Jane immediately, but Jane is too wise to fall victim to their clutches.) She lives day by day, and it causes her to live life through trial and error. Thank goodness she has Daria to keep her grounded; otherwise she would be floating on the cloud aimlessly without a cause. Or Wait! May be it’s the other way around. Anyway despite the romantic faux pas, Jane is still a strong stand-out character. Therefore, thank goodness Jane is in the series. The show would not be the same without her.