The Truth About Sam's Ladder, And Other Things You Didn't Know About Clarissa Explains It All

What's old is always new again, and especially when it comes to beloved TV from the 1990s, as there always seem to be new details and easter eggs being unearthed. The latest to get the spotlight is the classic Nickelodeon kids show Clarissa Explains It All, and creator Mitchell Kriegman recently shared a number of interesting tidbits about the show's production, including the fact that the ladder her best friend Sam used to enter her room was only about four feet tall. Check out Kriegman explaining that and more in the video below.

It's hard to do anything but just say "Yesssssss!" after watching that, considering the two-minute vid immediately brought back so many memories of watching Clarissa Explains it All as a kiddo, and I imagine I'll have the theme song in my head for the rest of the night/eternity.

Sam and his ladder were as much an iconic part of the Nickelodeon series as anything else, since having a friend come over via ladder-and-window inspired instant jealousy among younger viewers. And while I'm sure that part of me knew at the time that Clarissa's second floor bedroom was really just a ground-level set, I seriously haven't thought about that in so long that it kind of did blow my mind when he brought up how short the ladder was and how actor Sean O'Neal had to crouch down every time. Now I want to go back and watch that first episode to see the studio floor through the window.

While ladder heights and set design could lead one to figure out that first one, there's nothing intuitive about figuring out that Clarissa Explains It All purposefully avoided using the color purple in the props and costumes (at least for a spell). When you think about how insanely wacky and 1990s-y Melissa Joan Hart dressed as the trend-deficient Clarissa, it seems hard to believe that purple wasn't there, but then I guess it really was an awful lot of pinks and oranges and yellows being used. And whatever the hell this is.

Mitchell Kriegman also shared with Great Big Story a few of the writers the show employed that went on to great careers. The Hunger Games author and screenwriter Suzanne Collins was a staff writer there (as well as on The Mystery Fules of Shelby Woo), as was Alexa Junge, who went on to be a writer/producer for shows such as Friends, The West Wing, Sex and the City and, most recently, Netflix's Grace and Frankie. Not to mention Neena Beber, who was a head writer on Clarissa before moving on to shows such as Daria and HBO's Ballers.

Somehow, the end of the video arrives without Mitchell Kriegman confirming that Ferguson Darling is, indeed, evil incarnate. AND he still didn't share where his inspiration for the name Clarissa comes from. But I guess he can get away with it, since he not only created this awesome show, but also wrote for other Nickelodeon hits like Rugrats and Doug; and he also created Bear in the Big Blue House and The Book of Pooh, among others.

And now, we wait for revived interest in Clarissa Explains It All to cycle back to Nickelodeon so someone there can give a greenlight to a TV movie or whatever project they thing is fitting. We know we're getting updates on Hey Arnold and Rocko's Modern Life, as well as a scripted TV movie about Legends of the Hidden Temple. I think somebody can make this happen.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.