A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Nothing educational, per se, but there are some good lessons to be found in how Clarissa deals with the events in her life. Honesty, loyalty, and reliability are just a few of the character traits that are illustrated in the show's plot.
Viewers see a teen cope with everyday challenges like balancing family and social obligations, managing self-expression within parental guidelines, and dealing with a bully. The show's unique style allows Clarissa to speak directly to the audience, which makes viewers a part of the process of learning the lesson in each story.
Positive Role Models
Clarissa is a mature, independent, trustworthy teen who has an open relationship with her parents and a unique closeness to her best friend, who's a boy. She strives to solve her own problems but always seeks out guidance when she's in over her head. There's some sibling rivalry between her and her brother, but when push comes to shove, they support each other. Characters demonstrate compassion and integrity.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some storylines center on dating and teen crushes, and there are some references to sex. Clarissa's best friend is a boy who's often seen in her bedroom, but their relationship is purely platonic. There's occasional mention of bras and lingerie.
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Occasional use of "hell," and Clarissa and her brother sometimes call each other names like "fungus face" and "weasel."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasional mention of smoking and drinking, but it's not shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that despite being fairly dated, Clarissa Explains It All is a likable '90s sitcom with a lot of appeal for today's tweens and their parents. It centers on a down-to-earth teen whose daily conundrums involve relationships with her family (including her pesky brother), the woes of dating, and the many complicated situations in which she finds herself, all of which yield positive learning experiences with wholesome morals about friendship, trust, and honesty. Clarissa draws emotional strength and a sense of identity from her tight-knit family, and her parents encourage her independence while remaining accessible if she needs advice. The show was an anomaly during its original run because it cast a close boy/girl friendship that wasn't hampered by sexual attraction, which offers parents a good opportunity to talk about social dynamics and dating with their tweens.
Is It Any Good?
Not surprisingly, this series shows its age in the predictable areas of wardrobe and special effects, but it's not so dated that it would be an impossible sell for today's tweens. This is great news for parents, who will find Clarissa to be a breath of fresh air amid the sexy, sassy female characters who often grace the screen in many modern series. On the contrary, Clarissa's got a level head and high principles, which help guide her through coming-of-age hurdles like having a first crush, accidental shoplifting, and personal insecurities, all of which are dealt with in a thoughtful and realistic manner in Clarissa Explains It All.
Besides Clarissa's enviable relationships with her well-meaning parents and even her irritating (but loyal) little brother, Ferguson (Jason Zimbler), her friendship with Sam raises some interesting points that are important to talk over with your tweens in light of today's sexually mature culture. Be sure to use the opportunity to discuss the fine line between friendship and romantic involvement as well as how your family's rules apply to tweens' freedoms and responsibilities when they're socializing with their peers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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