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'Clarissa Explains It All': An appreciation

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Clarissa
Nickelodeon

The ’90s truly were all that. And so was the decade’s queen of cool, Clarissa Darling. Clarissa, played by Melissa Joan Hart, explained it all on her Nickelodeon series from 1991-94. And thanks to TeenNick’s new ’90s block, I get to relive all of my favorite moments all over again.

The revival of Clarissa Explains It All got me thinking about why I loved the show so much in the first place. Ultimately, I decided it’s because I looked up to Clarissa Darling. She was the coolest person I wanted to know. I mean, she had her very own TV show. She got to spell out her name with her finger at the beginning of each episode and make it spin around. And in each episode, she broke the fourth wall to talk about her teenage problems in a way that only the wise, mature Clarissa could. Only later did I realize she was only 14. But in 1991, 14 seemed like a mature adult to me.

Of course, any remembrance of Clarissa would not be complete without mentioning her cute (and platonic) BFF Sam. I grew up in a one-story house, and I still wanted a cute boy to climb through my window with his very own ladder. Sadly, this scenario only existed in my dreams. The same dreams that featured a sandbox in the corner of my room with my pet alligator, Elvis.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet and interview Melissa Joan Hart. She was at an ABC Family event promoting her current sitcom, Melissa and Joey. Normally, I’m pretty calm when interviewing celebrities. All that ended when Hart sat down to talk to me, and the only coherent sentence I could formulate was, “Oh, my gosh! You’re Clarissa!” I then proceeded to babble about how wonderful Clarissa Explains It All was and talk about my subsequent love of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. She looked at me like the crazy person I am, but was incredibly sweet about my geeking out. It might be one of the greatest moments of my life. (Which also may indicate that I’m a pretty lame person, but I don’t care.) Once I got over the fact that I was standing face-to-face with one of my childhood heroes, Hart told me about the sequel to Clarissa that never was, Clarissa Now. (If you need to waste more time remembering Clarissa, you can watch the pilot on YouTube here and here.)

Before you head to the comments to post your favorite Clarissa memories, please sing along with this gem: “Na, na, na-na-na, na-na-na-na, na-na, just do it!” Also, vote in the poll below!

Read more:

‘The ’90s Are All That’: TeenNick tells us what’s next. Which ’90s shows do you want to see return to TV?

TeenNick’s ’90s block launches strong in ratings

Kenan, Kel, Clarissa, Doug: I’ve missed you, my old friends