I just came across this great retrospective on one of my favorite childhood shows, Clarissa Explains It All. I was a dedicated fan of Clarissa and all her antics, and am certainly grateful for her presence during my pre-teen years. I wasn’t entirely aware of my geekiness at the time — nor did I have any idea that being a geek would come to so define me later in life — but Clarissa and I had a definite connection. Most of my friends were guys, like Sam; I favored really odd, quirky clothing (like dashikis). I had a habit of monologuing to myself, writing long diary entries in various voices and styles, and spent a great deal of my time trying to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I dreamed big.
I won’t go on a rant here about the kind of role models companies like Disney and Nickelodeon are producing these days, but I will say I’m damned glad that I had Clarissa to look up to in the 90s. She gave me the go-ahead to fly my own freak flag. And, if there was anything that defined my teen years, it was a deep desire to find myself, to set myself apart from the popular, the expected, and, in my opinion, the terribly boring. As Marah Eakin says in the article:
But all viewers–myself included–gravitated toward the show because we could find ourselves in her. And in that sense, that’s the show’s biggest success. Clarissa wasn’t a pop star, a superhero, or incredibly rich. She was an average girl living an average life, but in kind of an extraordinary way. Clarissa Explains It All left a nation of young women safe in the knowledge that things would work out just fine, as long as they stayed true to themselves–Doc Martens and all.