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Soleil Moon Frye,
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Clarissa Explains it All may have been modeled on the successes of 1) Ferris Bueler and 2) Blossom. Melissa Joan Hart really got her start on this Nickelodean comedy aimed for younger teen and some pre-teen audiences as Clarissa Darling, a teen girl who often had a few minor dilemmas to work out in each episode. If I were to watch this show now, I'd probably remark how extremely corny it is, but then again, the humor and depth (or lack there of) doesn't have to carry on with me as I get older, since that isn't the point.
Clarissa Explains It All, nonetheless had some great things going for it. For one, it was one of the rare occasions that a show was headlined by a young teen girl, and a rather spunky one at that. Few times do we see this in the early 90s, other than Blossom and later, with another Nickelodean series, The Secret World of Alec Max. Something like Zach Morris and Ferris Beuler were able to do, Clarissa often addressed the audience, usually to reiterate how things are going or to give advice for solving those problems. And they were usually minor things, like dealing with a sneaky older brother, Furgeson, or getting out of some mundane chore. Harmless things like that as rarely did Nickelodeon, if ever, touch upon anything but neutral topics (save the short-lived half-hour news program). She was a likable character and not whiny or obnoxious, although her parents were usually nerds. She had a pet aligator named Elvis, a cool neighbor named Sam, and usually programmed computer games as the ideal way of planning a solution to her problems. It was an amusing show that tried to do things a little differently than the same old, same old. And it seemed to have worked, since the show lasted three years (which is still pretty good, considering).
Nickelodeon did have a quite a few good teen and pre-teen based shows on air in the early 90s. Among them were 'The Adventures of Pete and Pete,' 'The Secret World of Alec Max,' 'Are You Afriad of the Dark?' and of course, 'Clarissa Explains It All.' Check out the show if you can. If American television continues creating garbage shows, then these kinds of shows are truly the last of their kind.
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