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Flashback Friday - Clarissa Explains It All

Clarissa-Explains-It-All  I grow weary of the 80s! Let's talk about my favorite early-90s teen/tweener TV, which I watched way beyond the point where I'd aged out of its demographic: Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains It All.

My progression to Clarissa was pretty natural, given my Punky obsession. Clarissa dressed in quirky clothes and ate junk food, which made her a lot like Claudia Kishi from The Baby-Sitter's Club. Clarissa also had an obnoxious younger sibling named Ferguson who made her life a living hell, and a best friend named Sam who would climb a ladder up to her bedroom to hang out. One thing that was super cool about Clarissa is that she was not romantically interested in Sam, which was good, because I WANTED TO BONE SAM. You know, in that innocent, 12 year old, don't-really-fully-understand-sex-yet sort of way.

Clarissa Explains it All was sort of ground-breaking in that it specifically targeted a tween set with an older, teen-aged role model who was for the most part wholesome but a little racy. I mean, check out her outfit in these opening credits:

But when I say groundbreaking, I mean more like breaking ground to let out a bunch of worms. In the interest of full disclosure, I just finished taking an incredibly eye-opening course in media literacy, Man, do I not envy those of you with daughters, because the use of mature characters to market to 6-12 year olds as "tweens" has gotten completely out of hand in our culture. The difference between Clarissa and some of her more modern counterparts in tween TV, however, is that she had a brain. She wasn't overly boy-crazy, did pretty well in school, had some creative outlets, and had an "alternative" style of dress. While she did express an interest in looking fashion forward, Clarissa seemed to be more about self-expression and repurposing vintage and thriftwear than prominently wearing name brands about which your child may then relentlessly pester the fuck out of you until you go out and buy some just like them.


Of course, I say all of this behind the blissfully ignorant fog of nostalgia rather than from recent experience. See, I decided not to hunt for old episodes of Clarissa on YouTube after revisiting Jem last week and effectively soiling a good three years of happy childhood memories. Let the past stay in the past from now on, man.

. . . . .
Snarky Amber lives in the Pacific Northwest on a steady diet of pop culture and very strong coffee.

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I JUST realized that my penchant for vintage and quirky clothes came from clarissa. I totally thought i was original all these years.


I wanted her entire wardrobe! Also, I'm ashamed to admit this, but I kinda had a crush on Ferguson. Not sure when it started, but I'm pretty sure he was my first "celebrity" crush.


Thanks so much for posting this. I am a child of the 90s, with so many Nickelodeon shows of that time pulling at my heart strings.

It made me remember how my parents didn't want their fifth-grader wearing velvet chokers so to be Clarissa, I had to jimmy-rig one together with a stretched out scrunchie and a clip on earring. Sad DIY times.


Oh Clarissa! I loved this show so much!! I too loved her quirky style and her annoying Ferg-face brother. My poor college roommate had the last name Ferguson and I could never stop calling her Ferg-face because of this show.

Thanks for bringing back some good memories. Claudia Kishi was my favorite BSC girl!


Don't forget, Clarissa was groundbreaking in that she was the first sitcom that was narrated with the POV of a young, female main character. "Blossom" followed, but "Clarissa Explains It all" really was a pioneer.


I loved Clarissa! Watched it on Snick...with Roundhouse. LOL. Talk about a flashback!


My parents were so rude, we didn't even have cable so I had to go to a friend's house to watch this. (what jerks!)
I remember an episode with Aunt Mafalda??
Na na na na naaaaaaa..


I LOVED this show. LOVED it. Tried to dress like Clarissa as much as possible. Oh well... At least I never had a blossom hat. Wait.

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