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♪ Na na na na-na! ♪One of the earliest original sitcoms on Nickelodeon, about a teenage girl named Clarissa Darling, her geeky, conniving, conservative brother Ferguson, and her wacky hippie parents. Usually featured Clarissa commenting on the plot directly to the camera, imitating a newscaster.Despite its seemingly innocent reputation, in retrospect, Clarissa probably got some crap past the radar, as the show had a habit of making subtle references to sex and teen partying, albeit in a light-hearted, contemporary fashion. Also one of the few shows on the channel that could skate by with using and at times spelling out words like "hell" and "sex" onscreen.Also noteworthy for being one of the first shows to feature a female lead and be gender-neutral. Before this show, the only shows with a female lead (as few as they were) were intended for girls only. It also helped to tear down a long standing belief that shows with female leads wouldn't be able to gain a significant male audience.The show ran from 1991 to 1994, ending just before the introduction of cartoon programming that would come to dominate the channel in The Nineties. Is also notable for being one of the roles Melissa Joan Hart is known for besides being a witch.In July 2011, it became one of the four inaugural shows of TeenNick's "The '90s Are All That" lineup.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "There are lots of things worse than having your mom teach at your school, like flossing with barbed wire, swimming through shark-infested waters, or having Ferguson for a brother."
Babysitting Episode: One episode had Clarissa baby sitting "Little Elsie", an absolute monster of a child, who makes it a point to make Clarissa's life a living hell. Clarissa manages to beat her by goading her into bragging about everything she's gotten away with and recording it.
Balloonacy: Clarissa attempts to do away with Ferguson by hooking him up to a straitjacket attached to balloons(!). Hapless Sam falls victim to the trap instead.
Better as Friends: Sam develops a crush on Clarissa at one point, and she reluctantly agrees to go on a date with him. It turns out that, as close as they are, they have absolutely zero chemistry and agree that they are... well, this trope.
Big Eater: Clifford. Eating an entire pizza just makes him hungrier.
Cannot Tell a Joke: Ferguson was generally a straight-laced, snobby know it all. Later in the series, he spent an entire episode practicing the delivery of a cliche joke (A homeless man walks up to me on the street and says he hasn't had a bite in...) for some event that he was participating in. The humor came not from the joke itself, but from the ludicrous attempts at telling it, which eventually started including ridiculous stresses on random words of the punchline, a la "I bit him. I bit him. I bit him."
Cigarette of Anxiety: Clarissa has a dream sequence where she finds her mother smoking like a chimney. The mother explains that she used to smoke and had quit, but that recent stress had caused her to pick up the habit again.
Dogged Nice Guy: Well, closer to Dogged Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but the Clarissa/Clifford dynamic starts off by following this to the letter, with Clarissa being irritated by his relentless serenading (you read that right) her until he stops, at which point she realizes she misses him.
Enter Stage Window: It's debatable whether Sam's even aware the Darlings' house has a door. At one point he was downstairs in the kitchen, and instead of leaving through the back door he climbed out through that window!
First Gray Hair: In one episode, Clarissa's mother panics about getting older after discovering that she has a gray hair. Clarissa's dad, however, is quick to point out to her that she only had a gray hair, having just plucked it out before both characters entered the scene.
Lethal Chef: Janet, as she both is a health food nut and likes to experiment in the kitchen.
Love at First Punch: Clifford falls for Clarissa because she's the first girl to ever try and stand up to him. However, they don't actually fight, which is definitely a good thing as it's made abundantly clear the results would not have been pretty.
Loves My Alter Ego: Clarissa once attended a costume party while dressing and acting like a punk named "Jade", and caught the attention of an older boy.
Pac Man Fever: Clarissa would, Once an Episode, make a game venting her frustrations at her current dilemma. They looked a bit like what games would appear as at the time; but nowadays they would be more appropriate for flash.
Pet's Homage Name: In one episode, Ferguson finds a lost cat that he names William F. Buckley.
Spin-Off: After the series ended, Nickelodeon aired the pilot for a failed spin-off called "Clarissa Now" which focused on Clarissa getting a job in New York. It even featured an urbanized version of the "Na Na" theme song. It failed to catch on with younger viewers due to the fact that it was originally produced as a prime-time sitcom for CBS complete with an all-adult cast that included comedian Robert Klein and Lisa Gay Hamilton (of "The Practice").
Thirty Minutes or It's Free: Since their mom is a health-food nut, Clarissa and Ferguson once took advantage of being allowed to order pizza by timing the delivery boy down to seconds, and then re-ordering more when he was inevitably late.