|Clarissa Explains It All|
|Created by||Mitchell Kriegman|
|Narrated by||Melissa Joan Hart|
|Theme music composer|
|Opening theme||"Clarissa Explains It All", performed by Rachel Sweet|
|Ending theme||"Clarissa Explains It All"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5 (see note)|
|No. of episodes||65|
|Running time||20-26 minutes|
|Production company||Thunder Pictures|
|Distributor||ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks|
|Original release||March 23, 1991 -|
October 1, 1994
Clarissa Explains It All is an American teen sitcom created by Mitchell Kriegman for Nickelodeon. In the series, Clarissa Darling (Melissa Joan Hart), is a teenager who addresses the audience directly to explain the things that are happening in her life, dealing with typical adolescent concerns such as school, boys, pimples, wearing her first training bra, and an annoying younger brother.
A total of 65 episodes were produced and aired from March 23, 1991 to October 1, 1994. From August 1992 onwards, the series headlined the popular SNICK (Saturday Night Nickelodeon) lineup. Reruns of the show have appeared intermittently on TeenNick's channel block The '90s Are All That (now NickRewind) since July 25, 2011.
In 2015, Kriegman released a novel, Things I Can't Explain, which serves as a sequel to the series. In the novel, Clarissa is now in her late 20s and trying to navigate life as an adult. In March 2018, it was reported that a sequel to the series was in development at Nickelodeon, with Clarissa now as a mother.
The main characters in the show are Clarissa Darling, her family (consisting of her father Marshall, her mother Janet, and her younger brother Ferguson) and her best friend Sam, all living in a small, unnamed suburban town. Clarissa had a pet baby alligator, Elvis, which she kept in a kiddie-sandbox and appeared sporadically in early episodes.
Clarissa was credited with becoming the first Nickelodeon series to feature a female lead, which led the network to create other shows such as The Secret World of Alex Mack, The Amanda Show and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Its popularity among both boys and girls also helped to debunk a myth that a children's series with a female lead would not appeal to boys.
Clarissa dealt with normal adolescent issues such as first crushes, getting a driver's license and preparing for college and working. These topics were dealt with far less dramatically than they were on other similar shows at the time (such as Full House and Blossom). For instance, in one episode Clarissa accidentally shoplifts a piece of lingerie but is neither caught by store security nor punished by her parents; she spends most of the episode trying to figure out how to remedy the situation on her own. Although terms like "hell" and "sex drive" were occasionally uttered during the show's run, most dialogue was kept family-friendly. One running gag involved her friend Sam often entering the scene by a ladder (accompanied by a characteristic chord of guitar music) through her bedroom window. A repeating theme during the series was the sibling rivalry between Clarissa and Ferguson, showing their repeated attempts to harm or even (as in the series premiere) to "kill" each other.
Unique to the show was Clarissa's tendency to tackle the episode's central theme through the creation of a fictional video game. The show also integrated some of Hart's real-life likes, such as the band They Might Be Giants.
The decision to structure the episodes into five seasons of thirteen episodes each was made after the show ended its original broadcast run. During the original run of the series, the seasons were not well defined.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||March 23, 1991||June 15, 1991|
|2||13||February 14, 1992||September 12, 1992|
|3||13||September 19, 1992||February 13, 1993|
|4||13||February 27, 1993||October 16, 1993|
|5||13||October 23, 1993||October 1, 1994|
During Season 1, Clarissa had an alligator named Elvis, but in the first episode of Season 2, Clarissa explained that her parents sent Elvis back to Florida when he grew too big. In Mitchell Kriegman's novel, Things I Can't Explain, Clarissa further elaborated that he "disappeared under mysterious circumstances" and "it took years to get mom to confess that she gave away the reptilian Elvis without telling me after Ferguson tried to shove a pocket watch down its throat thinking it would win him the role of Captain Hook in the school play." In reality David Ellis, who worked as art director in-house on the series, suggested that the show may have been under pressure from the ASPCA to remove the alligator from later episodes and that it would also represent the idea that Clarissa was also growing older.
These are other guest appearances, in single episodes by notable actors known for their other work.
Clarissa Explains It All was the second sitcom to premiere on Nickelodeon in 1991, after Hey Dude ended its run. It was one of seven new programs[clarification needed] (three animated and four live-action) to premiere on Nickelodeon that year, as the network began producing more original programming. It outlived the other live-action series introduced that year, Welcome Freshmen, Salute Your Shorts, and Fifteen, although Fifteen (an imported Canadian series) also lasted 65 episodes. Production on the pilot episode took place in September 1990, with Season 1 production beginning in February 1991 and series production wrapping in December 1993.
The show's theme song was sung by Rachel Sweet. It consisted entirely of a melody sung on the syllable "Na," punctuated with the occasional "Way cool!" or "All right! All right!" and underscored by rhythmic instrumentation, ending with a resounding "Just do it!"
A pilot for a follow-up series, Clarissa, was shot for CBS in 1995, but was not picked up by the network. The pilot was shown on two occasions on Nickelodeon after the original series had ended production. The new series would have involved Clarissa's internship at a New York City newspaper. Comedian Robert Klein costarred in the pilot as the newspaper's editor. Supporting roles were played by Marian Seldes and Lisa Gay Hamilton. In 2002, Hart said that she would not be interested in a cast reunion project: "No. Shirley Temple taught me one thing. And that was once you finish a career, you move on." In her next television series, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, her character actually did become a journalist.
After debuting on Saturday, March 23, 1991, at 6 p.m. ET, and repeating twice the next day, Clarissa Explains It All moved to Sundays at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. starting on April 7, 1991. The following year the show moved to anchor the SNICK block of Saturday-night Nickelodeon programming, airing at 8 p.m. ET Saturdays starting on August 15, 1992. New airings continued to be shown at that time (with repeat airings at noon on Sundays) until the end of the series run.
The series aired in reruns on Nickelodeon from 1994 to 1999, a second time in 2001 as part of the TEENick block, and a third time in 2004 as part of U-Pick Live Old School Pick. It also aired on The N from 2002 to 2003.
The series returned in reruns to TeenNick on July 25, 2011, as part of its The '90s Are All That block. It aired at 10 p.m. Pacific / 1 a.m. Eastern, with the first episode having been 'The Understudy' from Season 2. TeenNick replaced the show with Rocko's Modern Life on September 5, 2011. The series returned to The '90s Are All That from September 26, 2011 to October 6, 2011, when the show was replaced with Hey Dude. It then returned to TeenNick on December 31, 2011, with the airing of the series finale at a special timeslot, 11:00 p.m., to celebrate the end of 2011, and aired on the block again at 1:00am on January 1, 2012, with the airing of the series premiere to celebrate the beginning of 2012. The show aired on The '90s Are All That in a marathon on the night of December 30, 2012, and then a marathon every night from January 21, 2013 to January 27, 2013. On October 6, 2015, the show returned to the block, now known as The Splat. In 2019, the show is being rerun during the overnight hours on the Nick Pluto TV channel. On March 23, 2020, the show began airing reruns of the NickRewind block.
Throughout the early 1990s, a number of VHS tapes were released through Sony Wonder each containing 2 or 3 episodes, usually centered around a certain theme such as school, dating, sibling rivalry, etc.
In May 2005, the show's first season was released on DVD as part of the Nickelodeon Rewind Collection by Viacom's corporate subsidiary, Paramount Pictures. The second season was scheduled to be released a few months later, but it was pulled from Paramount Pictures' release schedule. To this date, there are no plans to release the series further on DVD.
In 1994, the series was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program. In addition, Hart, O'Neal, and Zimbler also received multiple Young Artist Award nominations. Hart won three competitive Young Artist Awards during the show's original run, as well as receiving the association's honorary Former Child Star Award in 2013 for her role as Clarissa.
In March 2018, The Hollywood Reporter reported that a revival of the show was "in early development" at Nickelodeon. Hart will reportedly reprise her role as the title character, who is now a mother. She will also serve as executive producer on the series alongside original series creator Kriegman, who is in talks to also write the show. The reports were not confirmed by any of the participants.