Clarissa Explains It All

Clarissa Explains It All
Created by Mitchell Kriegman
Starring Melissa Joan Hart
Jason Zimbler
Elizabeth Hess
Joe O'Connor
Sean O'Neal
Narrated by Melissa Joan Hart
Theme music composer Rachel Sweet
Anthony Battaglia
Willa Bassen
Opening theme "Clarissa Explains It All", performed by Rachel Sweet
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5[1]
No. of episodes 65[2] (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Mitchell Kriegman
Marjorie Cohn
Brown Johnson
Geoffrey Darby
Andy Bamberger
Location(s) Universal Studios Florida
Orlando, Florida
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Thunder Pictures
Original network Nickelodeon
Picture format NTSC
Audio format Stereo
Original release March 23, 1991 (1991-03-23)[3] – October 1, 1994 (1994-10-01)[4]

Clarissa Explains It All is an American teen sitcom created by Mitchell Kriegman for Nickelodeon.[5][6] In the series, Clarissa Darling, played by Melissa Joan Hart,[7][8][9][10] is a teenager who addresses the audience directly to describe the things that are happening in her life; dealing with typical pre-adolescent concerns such as school, boys, pimples, wearing her first training bra and an annoying little brother.

Clarissa Explains It All aired for five seasons and a total of 65 episodes[1] from March 23, 1991[3] to October 1, 1994,[4] later going into reruns. Reruns of the show have appeared intermittently on TeenNick's channel block The '90s Are All That (now The Splat) since July 25, 2011.[11][12]

In 2015, Mitchell Kriegman (the show's creator) 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.[13]


The main characters in the show are Clarissa Darling, her family (consisting of her father Marshall, her mother Janet and her little brother Ferguson) and her best friend Sam living in a small suburban town in Ohio. Clarissa also had a pet baby alligator named Elvis whom she kept in a kiddie-sandbox, who would appear 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 turn off boys.[14]

The final two seasons headlined the popular SNICK (Saturday Night-Nickelodeon) lineup, which was a lead-in to shows like All That and Are You Afraid of the Dark?. 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 watches television nonstop for an entire weekend (as part of a research project) and begins to think she is going crazy after she tires; an obvious commentary on the "MTV generation" of the time. In another episode, Clarissa accidentally shoplifts lingerie, and the terms "hell" and "sex drive" were occasionally uttered during the show's run. A running gag highlighted Clarissa's sibling rivalry with her brother Ferguson, and their attempts to harm or even kill each other.

Unique to the show was its representation of each episode's theme by showing Clarissa tackling the episode's issue through a fictional video game.

The show's theme song was sung by singer/comedian/actress/writer 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!"


Recurring characters

Notable guest appearances

These are other guest appearances, in single episodes by notable actors known for their other work.


Home video releases

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 Nickelodeon's parent company, Paramount Pictures.[15] 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.

Season one is also available on iTunes, Xbox Live, and the PlayStation Store. Many of the various episodes from the 5 seasons of the series are also available on Amazon Video and Hulu.


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 (three animated and four live-action) to premiere on Nickelodeon in 1991 when the network began producing more original programming. It outlived the two other live action programs; Salute Your Shorts, and Fifteen.

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.


In 1994, the series was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program. In addition, Melissa Joan Hart, Sean O'Neal, and Jason Zimbler also received multiple Young Artist Award nominations.[16] Melissa won three competitive Young Artist Awards during the show's original run,[17][18][19] as well as receiving the association's honorary Former Child Star Award in 2013 for her role as Clarissa.[20]


Clarissa Explains It All aired in reruns on Nick 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's Old School Pick. It also aired on The N from 2002 to 2003.

Clarissa Explains it All returned in reruns to TeenNick on July 25, 2011 as part of its The '90s Are All That block. The show aired at 10 PM (Pacific) 1 AM (Eastern) with the first episode having been 'The Understudy' from Season 2.[11][12] 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. The series returned to The '90s Are All That on TeenNick the night of December 31, 2011 with the airing of the series finale at a special timeslot, 11:00pm, for celebrating the end of 2011, and aired on the block again the morning of January 1, 2012 at 1:00am with the airing of the series premiere to celebrate the beginning of 2012. Clarissa aired on The '90s Are All That again, with a marathon on the night of December 30, 2012, for the block's Holiday Gift Guide marathon week special. Then, Clarissa returned yet again to The '90s Are All That with a marathon of the show 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 popular culture


  1. 1 2 "Clarissa Explains It All". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  2. "Clarissa To Explain It All For Final Time". Orlando Sentinel. December 17, 1993. Retrieved 2010-09-03.
  3. 1 2 Television section, New York Times, March 17, 1991, and March 23, 1991.
  4. 1 2 TV Week guide, September 29 – October 5, 1994, Bryan-College Station Eagle.
  5. Lipton, Laura (March 17, 1991). "Nickelodeon gets inside the head of a 13-year-old named Clarissa Darling". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-03.
  6. Witchel, Alex (August 25, 1991). "UP & COMING: Melissa Joan Hart; The Melissa Inside Clarissa Explains It All for Us". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
  7. Hinman, Catherine (June 22, 1991). "Clarissa She's 14, Hip And Hot The Spunky Tv Teen Has Captivated Viewers And Put Orlando-based Nickelodeon Studios On The Sitcom Map.". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-09-03.
  8. Minor, Debra K. (February 12, 1991). "New Nickelodeon Show To Be Produced Here". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-09-03.
  9. Shrieves, Linda (January 3, 1993). "Melissa Explains Clarissa". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  10. "Clarissa Explains It All". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  11. 1 2 Smiley, Brett (March 10, 2011). "Nick At Nite For Twentysomethings On The Way". Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  12. 1 2 Rice, Lynette (March 10, 2011). "TeenNick goes retro with '90s programming -- EXCLUSIVE". Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  13. "Clarissa Darling grows up in novel 'Things I Can't Explain' -". Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  14. Holbert, Ginny (September 29, 1994). "Clarissa's Grown Up And Gone // Nickelodeon Sends Off Its Star After 3 Years". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
  15. "Clarissa Explains It All - Season One (1991)".
  16. Awards for Clarissa Explains it All at
  17. "13th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  18. "14th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  19. "16th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  20. "34th Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  21. "Melissa & Joey". ABC Family. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  22. "'Clarissa Explains It All' -- Even White Supremacy". Huffington Post. January 12, 2015.
  23. "Things I Can't Explain Publisher Website".

External links

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