Hannah Montana might be 10, but Clarissa Explains It All is 25 this year. Recently, Variety interviewed Melissa Joan Hart about her starring role in the ’90s Nickelodeon TV show.
Clarissa Explains It All starred Hart as Clarissa Darling, a teenager who tells the audience about her life. The series ran from 1991 to 1994 and also starred Jason Zimbler, Elizabeth Hess, Joe O’ Connor, and Sean O’ Neal.
Speaking to Variety, Hart said the Nick series was a “growing experience”:
It was really a growing experience in so many ways. I was moved to Orlando to shoot the show for part of the year by myself. It was tough on one hand because my family was away from me. It made me grow up really fast and learn responsibility. I had a lot going on because of school work. I was in high school, plus learning all these lines and monologues every week, working 70-hour weeks, working on Sunday. We worked 6-day weeks so it was a lot to handle. I think it set me up to be really responsible and have a great work ethic, which my family always did and they instilled that in me. But I think that working on the show definitely had an impact.”
She added that series was “smart” and included the talents of Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins:
I was used to playing to those types of characters. I liked that she was a tough girl. I liked that Mitchell Kriegman, the writer, was all about erasing stereotypes and not putting someone in a box. He actually didn’t want to cast a blonde, thinking on those stereotypes – that a blonde couldn’t play a smart girl.
Kriegman was so brilliant as a writer. There were some great writers on the show like Suzanne Collins who wrote “The Hunger Games” and Paul Lieberstein of “The Office.” Mitchell was brilliant about finding writers and quirky people with amazing minds and I think a lot of people followed suit in the following years with kids’ shows. They made smart television.”
Finally, Hart discussed how the series has influenced younger girls:
I saw some of the advertising posters I was on and it was a photo of me with boxing gloves punching through paper. And the ad was that we broke boundaries on Nickelodeon. So I was aware of it at the time, which is kind of rare, especially being so young. It was nice to learn that and to find out that we were pioneering a little bit for cable networks and for young girls. I just loved the opportunity to be able to say those lines and to be able to work with those people. Now people come up to me and tell me they got into fashion or technology or coding because of “Clarissa.” There were so many benefits to being part of that show and I couldn’t be more proud of it.”
What do you think? Did you watch Clarissa Explains It All? What do you remember from the show?