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27 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Clarissa Explains It All

Clarissa Explains It All debuted in 1991 and quickly became a classic. "The idea that you do something 20 years ago, and everybody still remembers it—not just remembers it fondly, but passionately, and cares about it—I just love it," says Clarissa creator Mitchell Kriegman. "It's the most satisfying thing in my career." Which is saying something when you've worked on Rocko's Modern Life, Doug, Ren & Stimpy, and Rugrats, created Bear in the Big Blue House, and written a novel about Audrey Hepburn.

We chatted with Kriegman about everything from Clarissa's style and her pet alligator, Elvis, to the show's graphics. He also opened up the Clarissa vault to give us a peek at the show bible, sketches for Clarissa's bedroom, and pages from the original pilot script for the proposed Clarissa spin-off. Way cool!

1. KRIEGMAN’S PRE-CLARISSA CAREER INFLUENCED THE SHOW.

Before he created Clarissa, Kriegman wrote for National Lampoon, The New Yorker, and Saturday Night Live. But his new show was most prominently influenced by his performance art (Clarissa wearing a straitjacket in the pilot was taken from one of his acts) and two shows that he worked on for the Comedy Network: One, a show with musician Rachel Sweet, was “sort of parody of explaining things,” Kriegman says. The other, called Higgins Boys and Gruber, starred Steve Higgins (now the voice of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) and his brother, Dave. The duo created wraparounds for the channel's standup clips that "were only 30 seconds to a minute long, but they had this ongoing story," Kriegman says. "They'd talk to the camera and to each other, there were short scenes instead of these long scenes, and things would jump around.”

When the network asked for ideas for shows, Kriegman proposed cutting together all of the segments into a sitcom. “I really wanted to do that show, and I pitched it to the people there, but nobody got it at the time,” Kriegman says. “But I realized that I had learned everything I wanted to know about sitcoms and how to do them in a way that was really cool.” Those influences, combined, led to Clarissa.

2. NICKELODEON ONLY HAD DONE ONE SITCOM WHEN KRIEGMAN PITCHED THE IDEA FOR CLARISSA.

Kriegman, who had a development deal at Nickelodeon, pitched his idea for a sitcom there. At that time, the network had game shows like Double Dare and Nick at Nite programming, and it had aired just one sitcomHey Dude. “Gerry Laybourne had done a ton of studies with an ad agency about the potential audience,” Kriegman says, “and she was really developing her philosophy, which had a lot to do with the network being on the side of the kid, rather than, say, on the side of the toy company. It would be really pure in its intentions—the shows had to be what kids wanted, instead of what adults wanted. It was a bit of the anti-Disney at that time.”

Laybourne gave those studies to Kriegman to analyze, and, he says, “I knew that they needed a girl. They had all this boys stuff, and they weren’t seeing girls in the modern way that girls existed.” So he did his research, reading teen magazines like Sassy and getting input from his wife, who was an editor at Seventeen magazine at the time.

Kriegman planned to make his protagonist interesting to boys, too. “As big a deal as it was at the time, it was a pretty mild idea: ‘Don’t alienate the boys,'” he says. “I don’t think there’s any giant biological barrier to a guy identifying with a girl or a girl identifying with a guy, if the issues are universal to both of them. In that sense, it’s not rocket science.” So Kriegman shied away from story lines that boys wouldn’t care about—no episodes about make-up!—and gave Clarissa a boy friend who wasn’t a boyfriend.

3. KRIEGMAN WON’T SAY WHY HE NAMED HIS HEROINE CLARISSA.

“That’s a secret that’s going to go to my grave with me,” he says. “The only thing I can say is that I intentionally picked a name that she could say that she hated.” Kriegman will say where he got the idea for Clarissa’s last name, though; it comes from the Darling family in Peter Pan.

4. MELISSA JOAN HART ALSO AUDITIONED FOR BLOSSOM.

In her book Melissa Explains It All: Tales From My Abnormally Normal Life, Hart says she'd been auditioning for a role on the NBC series Blossom—playing the titular character’s ditzy best friend, Six—at the same time she was auditioning for Clarissa. She auditioned for both roles three times, and ultimately decided that Clarissa was the right role for her.

5. ANOTHER GIRL CAME CLOSE TO PLAYING CLARISSA.

Kriegman auditioned another actress who, he says, “kind of was Clarissa, and it was a choice between Melissa and this girl. She was a little more Claire Danes-like, honestly.” He ended up choosing Hart because “she was so charming and she just lit up the screen. Because she did that, I could load her up—make [Clarissa] really quirky and different. She could make it play.”

The pilot episode also featured another actor playing Sam, Clarissa's best friend. Sean O'Neal, who eventually won the part, recounted his audition in Slimed: An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age: "I was there for a few minutes, possibly had read a scene, and then Mitchell asked me to leave the room. Before I stepped out, though, he asked me to mess up my hair. I was a nutcase when I was in school and a little bit of a class clown, so I always used to rub my heavy-duty cowlicks, which made my hair stand on end. When I left the room and messed up my hair, I came back in and Mitchell said, 'Yeah, you've got the job.'"

6. KRIEGMAN PUT TOGETHER A SHOW BIBLE.

The detailed, 52-page document included character descriptions (Clarissa is “the Ferris Bueller of girldom, but also kind of Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes,” while Sam is described as a ‘tip of the iceberg’ character … there’s always a backstory to everything he says”) as well as monologues and catchphrases; detailed breakdowns of how the fantasy sequences, video games, and graphics treatments were done (“Clarissa … instigates and controls all the video effects … Usually Clarissa says ‘OK’ just before she initiates a video effect”); guides to the music stings and sound effects; and guidelines for how Clarissa addressed the camera (“there is no fourth wall … Clarissa talks to the audience naturally and unselfconsciously as any two people talk to each other”).

Kriegman distributed the bible to the show’s writers, and they used it as a guide while writing episodes. Delightfully, it ends with tips for how the writers could submit their scripts: “If you have a modem we can arrange for you to modem your script. Please contact the staff if you have the facilities to modem in your work.” (Hey, it was 1990!)

7. SIBLING RIVALRY WAS ONE OF THE DRIVING FORCES OF THE SERIES.

In the show bible, Kriegman noted that “Although sibling rivalry may not always be the subject of an episode it is always present as part of the context. … The issue of sibling rivalry is treated simply as a fact of life … rather than something the show ever needs to apologize for, or explain away, or tack a moral on.” (He also notes that writers “get extra points for coming up with a good sibling rivalry story.”)

“I went into the show wanting to do sibling rivalry,” Kriegman says. “If you’re going to have sibling rivalry, and you have a girl—which was a given from my perspective—she has to have a really annoying younger brother. He’s got to be the opposite of her.” So he created Ferguson, the anti-Clarissa, who is described in the show bible as “the ultimate goody goody brown noser … Ferguson is the enemy and he feels the same way about Clarissa.”

Sibling rivalry had been present in many prime time sitcoms, but never really in a kids' show, when Clarissa began airing in 1991. “That was a big deal," Kriegman says, "to have her actually hate her brother and actively try to kill him—which I don’t think you could do now, by the way, but that’s what she was trying to do in the pilot.”

8. KRIEGMAN GOT THE IDEA FOR ELVIS FROM AN OLD GIRLFRIEND.

Kriegman wanted to give Clarissa a pet, but felt a regular cat or dog wouldn’t do—he wanted “some different, off-the-wall thing,” he says. He was inspired by a college girlfriend “who had a wading pool in her off-campus apartment that had tadpoles and turtles and all sorts of stuff in it. She was brilliant—she also had a miniature alpine gondola hanging across it. And I was like, ‘Wow, that is just so weird.’ And that’s where the idea for Elvis came from.”

Look carefully in later episodes of the first season, though, and you’ll see that in wide shots, Clarissa's foot-long "security alligator" looks a lot more stiff. “He didn’t last past the first season, because cutting away to Elvis became really boring,” Kriegman laughs. "He’s just sitting there. We’d have some guy take Elvis footage and we’d try to use it later, but it was just really [like]: ‘Do we really have to cut away to Elvis? He’s not the most interesting thing in this show.’ It’s amazing how much Elvis was the foremost thing in people’s minds, because Elvis existed for like six episodes or something.”

9. RACHEL SWEET WROTE THE THEME SONG.

When Kriegman needed a theme song for Clarissa, he went to his friend Rachel Sweet, who came up with the iconic theme song we all have stuck in our heads. “I did not give her any direction,” he says. “She came up with ‘na na na na na na.’ ‘Way cool’ she must have gotten from the show in some way.”

During the first season, the opening title sequence looked much different than the one you probably remember (which you can see above). “There were these jump cuts of her doing things like being a monster, being a ballerina, playing basketball,” Kriegman says. “I just changed it because she was very young—they all were—in the original sequence, and I thought I could do something a little cooler.” (You can see screen grabs from the original opening sequence here.)

10. THE SHOW REVERSED THE TYPICAL SITCOM FORMAT.

In a typical sitcom, there’s a serious A story, which comprises most of the action, and a more lighthearted B story. But Clarissa flipped the format. “The A story is fanciful and absurd and the B story is compassionate and more serious,” Kriegman writes in the show bible. “Obviously this is a comedy, not a heavy issue oriented show, so the B story never gets moral. It’s more likely to be about friendship, hate, love, doing the right thing, being fair, etc. … That’s not to say that the A story might not have something serious at its root … but the way it’s expressed is so completely absurd that the issue is never addressed with a heavy hand.” So, for example, in “School Picture,” the A story is about Clarissa wanting to wear cool clothes to school picture day, while the B story is about her mom, Janet, and her dad, Marshall, arguing about Janet’s high school boyfriend.

11. THE SET FOR CLARISSA’S BEDROOM WAS VERY ELABORATE.

Of all of the sets, Clarissa’s bedroom was the most complex: There’s a They Might Be Giants poster on the wall, a science experiment in the corner (according to the show bible, Clarissa is “watering plants with Club Soda, Perrier and Evian to see which makes them grow fastest”), a dollhouse made by her dad “out of real housing materials that she uses for all of her video equipment,” a collection of weird hats, hubcaps on the wall, and black checkered paint over the flowered pink wall paper.

“I’ll never forget when we designed her room,” Kriegman says. “The designer was very upset at first, because he wanted to design a very girly room. And I said, ‘OK, you can design her girly room,’ and so they did. It was pink. Then I said, ‘Now we’re going to take car paint and paint black checkers across the wall.’ They were in shock. I mean, there was a cameraman who said, ‘What is she, possessed by the devil?’”


Clarissa's bedroom set, drawn by Byron Taylor. "This was when they knew I was going to put in some kind of checkerboard and I think they wanted to move the color to red," Kriegman says. "The cabinet is under the window and that went away after the first season or so." Photo courtesy of Mitchell Kriegman. Click to enlarge.

The bedroom was also the most elaborate in terms of shooting possibilities. “There is a ‘wild’ closet that we can shoot from the inside of,” Kriegman writes in the show bible. “We can shoot from outside the window, outside the door, through the doll house, from under the bed, from inside the chest at the foot of her bed, anywhere. Clarissa can start a scene from any one of these points of view.”

Sets outside the home, meanwhile, were much less detailed at first. “They should have the basic walls and props to establish the setting,” Kriegman writes in the show bible, “but they can remain sketchy because it's a memory of what happened rather than a realistic recreation." The sets became more elaborately designed over time.

12. THE SHOW HAD A LOT OF GREAT WRITERS.

The team included Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), Becky Hartman Edwards (Parenthood, Suddenly Susan, The Larry Sanders Show), Doug Petrie (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Horror Story), Alexa Junge (Friends, The West Wing, United States of Tara), Peter Gaffney (Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Recess, The Simpsons), Patricia Marx (SNL, Women Aloud, The New Yorker), Alan Goodman (The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Hey Dude), Neena Beber (How to Deal, Daria), Peter Mattei (Love in the Time of Money), Michael Borkow (Roseanne, Malcolm in the Middle, Friends), Glenn Eichler (The Colbert Report, Daria), and Alison Taylor (The Cheetah Girls, Lizzie McGuire).

13. AT FIRST, NETWORK EXECUTIVES THOUGHT CLARISSA WAS RUDE.

“The initial response was that she’s rude," Kriegman says. She’s talking back to her parents and she doesn’t respect them.” The network also thought that her jokes were too sarcastic. But Kriegman had come up against this kind of thing before. “That’s usually the initial response to my girl characters,” he says. “And I always say the same thing: ‘If a boy were saying this thing, and doing this thing, would you be complaining that they are being too rude, or they’re being too sarcastic or jokey with their parents?’ The answer’s no.”

Kriegman says he offered to tone down the dialogue and cut a couple of lines, but once the show gets going and people like it, and they can see that the world doesn’t end, and that suddenly they’re not being accused of undermining the morals of children, they trust you.”

14. SAM USED THE LADDER FOR A VERY GOOD REASON.

Clarissa’s best friend, Sam, rarely came in through the front door; his preferred method of getting into Clarissa’s room was a ladder. In reality, the ladder was just three rungs high, and O’Neal had to lay on his back and wait for his cue to put the ladder on the windowsill and climb in. “Honestly, the toughest part was getting up,” the actor says in Slimed!. "I had to hunch over my knees as I made my appearance."

It sounds like kind of a pain, but Kriegman wanted Sam to make his entrances through the window for a very good reason. “Do you really want him to have to ring the doorbell, and say, ‘Hi, Mrs. Darling, OK if I go visit Clarissa?’” Kriegman says. “It’s just way slow to do that.” He also liked that it was a quirky, unexplained thing. “It’s never commented on, and he just does it at all hours of the night and day,” Kriegman says. “I really wanted to do something unique. It was in keeping with a kids-first point of view.”

15. THE BULLY EPISODE WAS CONTROVERSIAL.

In one early episode, Clarissa discovers that Ferguson is being bullied by Clifford Spleenhurfer—and she stands up for Ferguson. “As much as she hates her brother, she can’t have some guy picking on him,” Kriegman says. “And so she calls out this guy.” Clifford and Clarissa set up a time to fight. (Hart actually learned how to box for the episode.)

Initially, Kriegman says, there was an outcry at the network about the episode. “At first, people were saying, ‘Well, a girl would never fight a boy,’” he says. “And that’s just so not true.” Kriegman stood his ground and found a fun way to end the episode that didn’t involve fisticuffs—Clifford declares his love for Clarissa ... in song—and the episode became one the network was proud of.

16. CLARISSA’S STYLE BEGAN TO INFLUENCE KIDS AFTER JUST A FEW EPISODES.

Clarissa’s signature style was created by Lisa Lederer, who had a magazine background. “Clarissa wasn’t really a tomboy and she wasn’t really the weird girl. She was always just herself,” Lederer says in Slimed!. “It felt like what we were doing was creating this girl in a more real way, to represent the way that girls—that people—normally dress.”

“If you went to a store to buy clothes for a girl in those days, it was all coordinated," Kriegman says. "There was a pink ribbon that went with a dress that went with a pair of shoes. She blew that out of the water. She made her own outfit from her own choices in her closet. I definitely wanted her to just dress the way she wanted to. It was about her expression.”

About a month after the show started airing, an ABC executive made apparent to Kriegman just how influential Clarissa's sartorial choices were. "The head of ABC at the time called me because I had done some pilots for him that never went anywhere," Kriegman says. "He said, 'My daughter came down the stairs dressed in eight mismatched things and leggings.' He asked her, 'What are you doing?' and she said, 'I’m dressing like Clarissa.'"

17. TYPICALLY, THE CAST AND CREW SPENT 70 HOURS ON EACH EPISODE.

Clarissa’s Orlando-based cast and crew worked in three-week blocks, with two weeks off in between, until they’d completed all the episodes in a season (usually 13 to 15). They’d typically spend six days a week, and a total of 70 hours, working on each episode. Scripts were handed out on Fridays, table reads were on Sundays, followed by rehearsals and, finally, shooting on Wednesdays. The schedule—which also included tutoring for the show’s young leads—required incredible amounts of energy. Hart writes in Melissa Explains It All that when one director tried to get them excited after a number of takes, he would tell them to “‘Shoot this one out of the cannon!’—as in, the scene—which become known as a ‘Cannon take!’ for short.”

Because of all the time they spent together, the cast and crew grew close: Crewmembers helped Hart with her school projects and threw her a graduation from “Nickelodeon High School” (they voted her “most likely to have her own series”). And they bonded outside of work, too. “Adults and kids got together Friday nights after the show was done and had the best party,” Kriegman says. “Everybody was so happy to be with each other, which is phenomenal when you work long hours in Florida in a studio like that.”

18. THE NEWSROOM-STYLE GRAPHICS WERE VERY HARD TO CREATE.

Back in the ‘90s, creating news-style graphics wasn’t as easy as it is today: Kriegman and his crew had to make Clarissa’s graphics using a special computer called the Quantel Paintbox. “We literally hired a news graphic artist, Don St. Mars, to create the graphics,” Kriegman says. “And then we had to figure out, ‘Well, these graphics can’t feel like they were created by somebody other than Clarissa.’ We had to find her handwriting and her style. And it had to be just a little bit better—actually, a lot better—than what a kid her age could do, but enough that you believed it was her.”

Clarissa’s video games, meanwhile, were designed by Tim Burns, whom Kriegman met while performing in a comedy show (Burns would later write the script for An American Werewolf in Paris). He also created Kriegman’s favorite segment, a Russian shopping channel that appears in the first season episode “No T.V.”

19. TECHNICALLY, THERE WAS NO PURPLE ALLOWED ON SET OR IN WARDROBE.

In Slimed!, the Clarissa crew recounts how Kriegman had a rule on set that no one could use purple. According to production designer Byron Taylor, when he pitched painting purple squares in Clarissa's room, "Mitchell said that there's only one criterion when you go to shop the show: No purple. ... It was a very big deal. There could be no purple in his office; there could be no purple on the show. He didn't even like it when people wore purple."

According to Kriegman, he doesn't really have a thing against purple; the rule was arbitrary, and something he did on purpose. "Clarissa is the first big show I ever ran," he says in Slimed!. "And I had this advice from an old pro in the business who said, 'The first thing you do when you go down there, come up with something arbitrary that everybody's gotta do and stick to it and never explain it.' ... I knew I had to assert myself. ... I actually had an idea about the wardrobe, which is that, because I wanted the show to appeal so fervently to girls and boys ... I wanted her to wear pink and blue. So I decided that purple would ruin that, so I just said, 'No purple in the clothes.' And in the set design I would say 'No purple.' And so then it grew, right? Inside I was laughing a little bit; it was a weird little thing. And by the way, Lisa snuck in a bunch of purple plenty of times."

20. JASON ZIMBLER IDENTIFIED WITH FERGUSON—BUT MELISSA JOAN HART DIDN'T THINK SHE WAS THAT SIMILAR TO CLARISSA.

“He was more politically nerdy than I was, I was more tech nerdy,” Zimbler told Mashable last year. “But he was unrepentantly nerdy and proud of learning, and he made being bookish cool—or cool for being uncool. I really dug that. Now, I’m still working with computers and in the past few years, my political awareness has really heightened. So, yeah, I’m totally the older version of how Ferguson would have turned out.”

Hart, meanwhile, saw key differences between herself and the character she played. "I'm not as wild as Clarissa," Hart told The New York Times in 1991. "We dress similarly, but Clarissa is into manipulating her parents. I don't. I just talk mine into things." Two years later, she told The Orlando Sentinel, "I think I'm different from Clarissa in a lot of ways. For one thing, when Clarissa meets new people, she always starts out with a bad impression. I think Clarissa's attitude is: 'Expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed.' I'm not like that." Still, there is some of Hart in Clarissa: She told Kriegman after an audition that They Might Be Giants was her favorite band, and soon, it was also Clarissa's favorite band; Hart said "obeykaybee," and eventually, Clarissa said it too; and when the writers found out that Hart played the flute, they made one episode about an upcoming flute recital. You can see Melissa explain the differences and similarities between her and her character in this behind-the-scenes video from 1993:

21. THE SHOW FEATURED A NUMBER OF NOTABLE GUEST STARS.

Among them was James Van Der Beek, who gave Hart her first on-screen kiss; the future Dawson’s Creek star played Paulie, a drummer that Clarissa—who is pretending to be a punk chick named Jade—meets at a party in the episode "Alter Ego." It was also Van der Beek’s first on-screen kiss; you can watch a clip of the episode here. (Shannon Woodward, who would later star in Raising Hope, played Missy in the same episode.) Future Buffy and Gossip Girl star Michelle Trachtenberg played Elsie Soaperstein, the brat who lives next door who Clarissa had to babysit, in a season four episode, and Heather MacRae, star of Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask), played Clarissa's touchy-feely aunt, Mafalda, in two episodes.

Other notable guest stars included Sheeri Rappaport, who made her television debut playing Piper Henderson on Clarissa and currently stars in CSI; Joanna Garcia, a love interest for Ferguson, who later starred in Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Reba; and comedian Wayne Brady, who played a pizza delivery guy in the season five episode "Editor in Chief."

22. JOE O’CONNOR WAS A TOTAL PRANKSTER.

According to Zimbler, the cast had competitions to try to make each other laugh—and no one was better at making the actors break character than Joe O’Connor, who played dad Marshall Darling. “I aspired to have that power and capability,” Zimbler told Mashable. “We were once shooting a scene, and Joe and I were waiting in the wings just off set for our cue. The scene started taping, and I told him a joke just as we were about to walk onto the set. He was unable to collect himself, and just walked into the scene laughing and couldn’t keep his composure. I nailed the timing. It’s not even that great joke, but when you’re 15, 16 years old, telling an adult something that funny is a pretty great feeling.” (The joke was: “How do you get four old grandmas to say ‘f***?’ You get a fifth to say ‘BINGO!’”)

23. THERE WAS A CLARISSA ALBUM ...

In 1994, Clarissa and the Straightjackets released This is What Na-Na Means. The record was a collaboration between Rachel Sweet, Tony Battaglia, and Kriegman, with Hart on lead vocals. “We had the idea to do this grunge, garage band album,” Kriegman says. “[Rachel and Tony] did these awesome songs.”

But the final product didn’t turn out exactly how Kriegman had hoped. “It was so good that [the network executives] got worried it was too much like a real album,” he says. “So they pulled it back and cut all the mixes down to one and a half to two-minute songs, and they insisted on this goofy kiddy wraparound thing. It ruined the record. It was a good record with big guitar jams and six-minute cuts that could have broken through, I thought. It was so disheartening I actually took my name off when they released it.” You can listen to what was released above.

24. ... AND A BOARD GAME.

Players had to "[answer] questions about all kinds of interesting stuff like your friends, school, and your favorite pizza toppings!" according to the back of the box, which was, of course, written by Clarissa. The goal of the game will be easy for a Clarissa fan to guess: "Take Driver's Education, get your license and a key, and try to win a CAR. ... Look out though! There's more than one challenging family, school and social crisis you'll have to deal with along the way!" Kriegman wrote the game with Mollie Fermaglich. "I lost the last time I played," he told us.

25. THE SHOW WASN’T CANCELED BECAUSE OF BAD RATINGS.

Midway through the fourth season, Nickelodeon decided to cancel the show because Clarissa, at nearly 17, was too old for their viewers.

“In their defense, they had a rigid idea about the age range,” Kriegman says. “In those days, Nickelodeon stopped at 14 and MTV started at 15 or 16, and there was no middle ground. They didn’t cross that line, ‘cause that was MTV territory, and the attitude of MTV was way different than the attitude of Nickelodeon. The audience changes before the media changes, so [the network execs] weren’t really aware how much kids had grown in the time that we had done the show. They felt she was way too old for the network. And I just felt like she could’ve kept going, and there wasn’t really a reason to stop from any perspective. I think people would have stuck with her.”

26. THERE WAS ALMOST A SPINOFF ON CBS.

In 1995, Kriegman pitched a new show, called Clarissa, to CBS. It saw the titular character deferring her college acceptance to take an internship as a cub reporter at a New York City newspaper. She moves into the attic of her Aunt Agnes’s Chelsea apartment building, hangs out with her best friend Piper (an art student at Cooper Union College), and butts heads at work with the other new intern, a competitive guy named Filmore Young (and they totally have a will they, won’t they vibe). She’s also competing to be assistant to the newspaper’s star columnist Hugh Hamilton, who goes through as many as five assistants a month and is kind of a mess. “Each character in Clarissa is in one way or another concerned with the issue of ‘going for it’ vs ‘giving up,’” Kriegman writes in the treatment. “Clarissa sits at the center of this challenge in a positive way and Hugh Hamilton at the center of the same issue in a negative way. But all of the characters … can be organized in relation to this question.”

The show, as Kriegman envisioned it, would have many of the same elements that made Clarissa Explains It All so different, like on-screen graphics inspired by news programs and flashbacks and fantasies, but they would be “refined and streamlined,” according to the treatment. CBS gave the show the go-ahead, and Kriegman cast the show, built the sets, and wrote four drafts of the pilot, “Clarissa Invades New York"; you can read the first few pages below.


Click to enlarge.

But that was not the show that would get made. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, executives at CBS put the show on hiatus, then hired a new writer to take over. “The first thing they did was cut all the really cool stuff that was in the pilot—she talked to the camera, there were fantasies, just like Clarissa Explains It All,” Kriegman says. “I said, ‘Why are you cutting out all the stuff that we were famous for?’ And the executive said, ‘You know, you can do that on basic cable, but network audiences don’t put up with that post-modern crap.’ And so he took out the talking to camera, except for the very first subway thing; he took out all the graphics; he took out all the fantasies. He made it into the most mundane kind of normal sitcom.”

That left Kriegman as the executive producer on a show that looked nothing like his original vision. “I was like a zombie producer,” he says. “You’re not in charge of it anymore and just sort of walking around like a dead person. I’m still trying to get it produced and get it done, and we did the best we could, but it was something that I knew wasn’t going to work.” CBS filmed the pilot—which, typically, is a proof-of-concept for a show and not meant to go on actual TV—and started airing it “as if it was real, which then caused fans of the show to say, ‘Look at this failed pilot, must’ve been terrible,’” Kriegman says. You can check out the Clarissa pilot below.

27. KRIEGMAN HAS WRITTEN A CLARISSA NOVEL.

It's called Things I Can't Explain, and in it, Clarissa is 26 and living in New York City. “I think I’ve answered every compelling question about Clarissa,” Kriegman told Flavorwire. “Everything is dealt with: from where her [fashion] sensibility comes from to what happened to Elvis to what she’s doing now and what’s hard about her life to her relationship with Sam, obviously, and how things change in your 20s. It’s about how you can be a know-it-all when you’re a teenager and then not know so much in your 20s, and how time, the economy, and the world can be cruel to you—no matter how optimistic, positive, and smart you are. She takes some real knocks. … It’s definitely written in a way that I hope is deeply satisfying for the novel itself, but represents an opportunity to continue the story. I think she’s still a fascinating person.”

For exclusives from the upcoming novel, Things I Can't Explain, and to win a Google Hangout with the author for you and your friends, follow this link. Share your favorite Clarissa memories on Kriegman's Tumblr!

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25 Royals in the Line of Succession to the British Throne
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

Between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcoming their third child on April 23, 2018 and Prince Harry's upcoming marriage to Suits star Meghan Markle in May, the line of succession to the British throne has become a topic of interest all over the world. And the truth is, it’s complicated. Though Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 92 years old on April 21, shows no signs of slowing down, here are the royals who could one day take her place on the throne—in one very specific order.

1. PRINCE CHARLES

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As a direct result of his mother being the world's longest-reigning monarch, Prince Charles—the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—is the longest serving heir to the throne; he became heir apparent in 1952, when his mother ascended to the throne.

2. PRINCE WILLIAM

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At 35 years old, odds are good that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge—the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana—will ascend to the throne at some point in his lifetime.

3. PRINCE GEORGE 

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On July 22, 2013, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George of Cambridge, who jumped the line to step ahead of his uncle, Prince Harry, to become third in the line of succession.

4. PRINCESS CHARLOTTE 

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On May 2, 2015, William and Catherine added another member to their growing brood: a daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Though her parents just welcomed a bouncing baby boy, she will maintain the fourth-in-line position because of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which went into effect just a few weeks before her arrival, and removed a long-held rule which stated that any male sibling (regardless of birth order) would automatically move ahead of her.

5. PRINCE OF CAMBRIDGE

 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge depart the Lindo Wing with their newborn son at St Mary's Hospital on April 23, 2018 in London, England
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On April 23, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child—a son, whose name has yet to be announced, but who has already pushed his uncle, Prince Harry, out of the fifth position in line to the throne.

6. PRINCE HARRY

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As the second-born son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry's place in the line is a regularly changing one. It changed earlier this week, when his brother William's third child arrived, and could change again if and when their family expands.

7. PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK

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Prince Andrew is a perfect example of life before the Succession to the Crown Act 2013: Though he’s the second-born son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, he’s actually their third child (Princess Anne came between him and Prince Charles). But because the rules gave preference to males, Prince Andrew would inherit the throne before his older sister.

8. PRINCESS BEATRICE OF YORK

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Because Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, had two daughters and no sons, none of that male-preference primogeniture stuff mattered in terms of their placement. But with each child her cousin Prince William has, Princess Beatrice moves farther away from the throne. If Beatrice looks familiar, it might be because of the headlines she made with the Dr. Seuss-like hat she wore to William and Catherine’s wedding. (The infamous topper later sold on eBay for more than $130,000, all of which went to charity.)

9. PRINCESS EUGENIE OF YORK

Princess Eugenie of York arrives in the parade ring during Royal Ascot 2017 at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2017 in Ascot, England
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Though she’s regularly seen at royal events, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s youngest daughter spends the bulk of her time indulging her interest in fine art. She has held several jobs in the art world, and is currently a director at Hauser & Wirth’s London gallery.

10. PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX

 Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex leaves after a visit to Prince Philip
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Like his older brother Andrew, Prince Edward—the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip—jumps the line ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne, because of the older rule that put males ahead of females.

11. JAMES, VISCOUNT SEVERN

 James, Viscount Severn, rides on the fun fair carousel on day 4 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show on May 11, 2013 in Windsor, England
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James, Viscount Severn—the younger of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex’s two children, and their only son—turned 10 years old on December 17, 2017, and celebrated it as the 10th royal in line of succession. (The birth of the youngest Prince of Cambridge pushed him back a spot.)

12. LADY LOUISE MOUNTBATTEN-WINDSOR

Lady Louise Windsor during the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2013 in London, England.
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Because the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 wasn’t enacted until 2015, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor—the older of Prince Edward’s two children—will always be just behind her brother in the line of succession.

13. PRINCESS ANNE, THE PRINCESS ROYAL

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, visits the Hambleton Equine Clinic on October 10, 2017 in Stokesley, England
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Princess Anne, the Queen and Prince Philip’s second-born child and only daughter, may never rule over the throne in her lifetime, but at least she gets to be called “The Princess Royal.”

14. PETER PHILLIPS

Peter Phillips poses for a photo on The Mall
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The eldest child and only son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, stands just behind his mother in line. Interesting fact: Had Phillips’s wife, Autumn Kelly, not converted from Roman Catholicism to the Church of England before their marriage in 2008, Phillips would have lost his place in line.

15. SAVANNAH PHILLIPS

Savannah Phillips attends a Christmas Day church service
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On December 29, 2010, Peter and Autumn Phillips celebrated the birth of their first child, Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, who is also the Queen’s first great-grandchild. She’s currently 15th in line.

16. ISLA PHILLIPS

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips attend a Christmas Day church service
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Less than two years after Savannah, Peter and Autumn Phillips had a second daughter, Isla, who stands just behind her sister in line. It wasn’t until 2017 that Savannah and Isla made their Buckingham Palace balcony debut (in honor of their great-grandmother’s 91st birthday).

17. ZARA TINDALL

 Zara Tindall arrives for a reception at the Guildhall
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Not one to hide in the background, Zara Tindall—Princess Anne’s second child and only daughter—has lived much of her life in the spotlight. A celebrated equestrian, she won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006 and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year the same year (her mom earned the same title in 1971). She’s also Prince George’s godmother.

18. MIA TINDALL

Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
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Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia may just be 4 years old, but she’s already regularly making headlines for her outgoing personality. And though she’s only 18th in line to the throne, her connection to the tippity top of the royal family is much closer: Prince William is her godfather.

19. DAVID ARMSTRONG-JONES, 2ND EARL OF SNOWDON

David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon
HANNAH MCKAY/AFP/Getty Images

David Armstrong-Jones, the eldest child of Princess Margaret, isn’t waiting around to see if the British crown ever lands on his head. The 56-year-old, who goes by David Linley in his professional life, has made a name for himself as a talented furniture-maker. His bespoke pieces, sold under the brand name Linley, can be purchased through his own boutiques as well as at Harrods.

20. CHARLES ARMSTRONG-JONES, VISCOUNT LINLEY

Margarita Armstrong-Jones and Charles Patrick Inigo Armstrong-Jones
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David Armstrong-Jones’s only son, Charles, may be 20th in line to the throne, but the 18-year-old is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.

21. LADY MARGARITA ARMSTRONG-JONES

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) talks with Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones (C) as her father David Armstrong-Jones (L), 2nd Earl of Snowdon, known as David Linley
HANNAH MCKAY/AFP/Getty Images

Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the youngest child of David Armstrong-Jones and his only daughter, is also the only granddaughter of Princess Margaret. Now 15 years old (she'll turn 16 in June), Lady Margarita made headlines around the world in 2011 when she served as a flower girl at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

22. LADY SARAH CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto, the daughter of Princess Margaret arrives for her mother's memorial service
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Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones’s only daughter, is the youngest grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In addition to serving as a bridesmaid to Princess Diana, she is Prince Harry’s godmother.

23. SAMUEL CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto (L) and her son Samuel Chatto (R) leave a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Lord Snowdon at Westminster Abbey on April 7, 2017 in London, United Kingdom
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The first-born son of Lady Sarah Chatto and her husband, Daniel, has a long way to go to reach the throne: He’s currently 23rd in line.

24. ARTHUR CHATTO

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For better or worse, Sarah and Daniel Chatto’s youngest son Arthur has become a bit of a social media sensation. He's made headlines recently as he regularly posts selfies to Instagram—some of them on the eyebrow-raising side, at least as far as royals go.

25. PRINCE RICHARD, DUKE OF GLOUCESTER

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester makes a speech during the unveiling ceremony of London's first public memorial to the Korean War on December 3, 2014 in London, England
Carl Court/Getty Images

At 73 years old, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. Formerly, he made a living as an architect, until the 1972 death of his brother, Prince William of Gloucester, put him next in line to inherit his father’s dukedom. On June 10, 1974, he officially succeeded his father as Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden.

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Animals
20 Black-and-White Facts About Penguins
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To celebrate World Penguin Day (which is today, April 25), here are a few fun facts about these adorable tuxedoed birds.

1. All 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.

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3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.

Gentoo Penguin
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4. A penguin's striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, its black back blends into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, its white belly is hidden against the bright surface.

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5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

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6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.

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7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

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8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.

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9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.

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10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.

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11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.

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12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.

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13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.

Penguins nest
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14. If a female Emperor Penguin's baby dies, she will often "kidnap" an unrelated chick.

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15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.

16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe in 1520. They spotted the animals near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them "strange geese.")

17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

18. Because they aren't used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.

19. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.

20. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to great auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled auks, and called them penguins.

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