For '90s kids, it was Clarissa Darling who acted as our guide to the pre-teen years in Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains It All, which first debuted 25 years ago. Actress Melissa Joan Hart played the smart and sassy teen, who had the coolest room, the awesomest on-screen graphics, and a pet alligator (seriously). But even though she explained it all, there are still some things you don't know about Clarissa Explains It All , like how a follow-up series pilot was shot for CBS and all the songs that reference Clarissa in their lyrics. Everyone's favorite explainer has sure endured over time.
For those who needs a refresher, Clarissa Explains It All followed the adventures of Clarissa Darling as she lived and explained the world of her zany parents Marshall and Janet, her annoying capitalist brother Ferguson, and her guitar-chord prompting BFF Sam. In her room, she'd act as the news anchor to adolescence as she tried to figure it all out via on-screen drawings and funky clothes. The series ran from 1991 until 1994 and Clarissa was the first female protagonist on Nickelodeon, according to Mental Floss, and she paved the way for female-led shows like The Secret World of Alex Mack and iCarly.
So here's what else you need to know about Clarissa Explains It All
1. There Was A Follow-Up Series Pilot For CBS
In 1995, a pilot named Clarissa was shot for CBS and was meant to continue the show as Clarissa gets an internship at a New York City newspaper. Sadly, CBS declined to pick up the series. Because it's 2016, you can watch the pilot on YouTube (above).
2. Wayne Brady Once Guest Starred In Season 5
The Who's Line Is It Anyway? comedian appeared in an episode as a pizza delivery guy.
3. It Was The First Original Sitcom To Premiere On Nickelodeon
According to BuzzFeed, Clarissa Explains It All was the first comedy to air on Nickelodeon. How cool is that? Hey Dude, Welcome Freshman, and Fifteen, which starred a very young Ryan Reynolds, also premiered around the same time.
4. Another Actress Almost Played Clarissa
Can you believe it? Creator Mitchell Kriegman told Mental Floss that “it was a choice between Melissa and this girl. She was a little more Claire Danes-like, honestly.” Of course, the role ended up going to Hart. “She was so charming and she just lit up the screen," he said. "Because she did that, I could load her up — make [Clarissa] really quirky and different. She could make it play.”
5. Michelle Trachtenberg Guest Starred In Season 4
During a time before she played Gossip Girl's Georgina Sparks and Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Dawn, Trachtenberg played spoiled neighbor Elsie Soaperstein on Clarissa.
6. Elvis The Alligator Was Inspired By Kriegman's Ex
A unique girl like Clarissa needed a unique pet — so Kriegman was inspired by his college girlfriend, "who had a wading pool in her off-campus apartment that had tadpoles and turtles and all sorts of stuff in it," he told Mental Floss. "She was brilliant—she also had a miniature alpine gondola hanging across it. And I was like, ‘Wow, that is just so weird.’ And that’s where the idea for Elvis came from."
7. The Writers' Room Included A Lot Of Successful Writers
It's no wonder the show was awesome. According to Mental Floss, the following successful writers cut their teeth on the '90s sitcom Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games, above), Doug Petrie (American Horror Story), Alexa Junge (The West Wing), Glenn Eichler (The Colbert Report), and more.
8. No Purple Allowed On Set!
If you've ever seen Breaking Bad, you know that Marie loved purple a lot. Well, the set of Clarissa was the complete opposite. According to Mental Floss, Kriegman said that he didn't want the color on the set, as an arbitrary thing to assert himself about on his first series. "I actually had an idea about the wardrobe, which is that, because I wanted the show to appeal so fervently to girls and boys," he said. "I wanted her to wear pink and blue. So I decided that purple would ruin that, so I just said, 'No purple in the clothes.' And in the set design I would say 'No purple.' And so then it grew, right?"
(And yes, there is purple in the GIF above.)
9. Clarissa Was Used In A Meme To Explain White Supremacy
10. James Van Der Beek Guest Starred In Season 5
Before Dawson's Creek, Van Der Beek played Paulie and he became Hart's first on-screen kiss at 16, as she explains to Meredith Vieira above.
11. The Series Was Nominated For An Emmy
In 1994, Clarissa Explains It All was nominated for the award for Outstanding Children's program and lost to CBS' Kids Killing Kids/Kids Saving Kids.
12. Sam Used A Ladder Because The Writers Didn't Want Him To Talk To Clarissa's Parents
So what's the deal with Sam and his ladder? Well, Kriegman told Mental Floss that it was devised that way so Sam wouldn't have to interact with Mr. and Mrs. Darling all the time. “Do you really want him to have to ring the doorbell, and say, ‘Hi, Mrs. Darling, OK if I go visit Clarissa?’” Kriegman said. "It’s never commented on, and he just does it at all hours of the night and day. I really wanted to do something unique. It was in keeping with a kids-first point of view.”
13. The Creator Published A Novel To Continue The Show
Kriegman wrote the novel Things I Can't Explain as a complex continuation of the beloved series. "There's a few dimensions at different points in her life all at the same time…You know how they have the DC Universe and the Marvel Universe?" he told E! Online. "We have the Clarissa Universe…you can drop in anywhere."
Images: Giphy (5)