Clarissa Can't Explain Being A Millennial In Sequel Novel

Mitchell Kriegman, creator of the iconic 1991 Nickelodeon sitcom Clarissa Explains It All, is bringing back Clarissa to do some more explaining.

His new novel, Things I Can’t Explain, features a twenty-something Clarissa living in New York City.

When asked by Indiewire about the math required to have the character be that age, Kriegman said, "I don't give a shit about math. If you did her in her thirties, that's a big jump, it would be crazy. Melissa [Joan Hart] was about 17 and the character was about 16 or 17, so you want to see her in her twenties next. You don't want to skip her twenties."

He doesn’t shy away from comparisons to Girls, either.

"She lives in a Lena Dunham world," he said. "She's not Lena Dunham — [but] there's a little Lena Dunham homage in there somewhere because I know Lena loved Clarissa."

Kriegman told The A.V. Club that, in some ways, he never stopped writing Clarissa.

“I’ve been writing Clarissa in one form or another — or Clarissa-like or Clarissa-related — so the DNA of Clarissa has been in a lot of the characters I write; it’s not always a lead character, it was sometimes a side character. So for me creatively, I never understood why she stopped. That might sound petulant or something, but I just felt like we could grow up with her.”

He also says that the huge fan response really helped shape the book and his writing of it: “So, I got rejuvenated and jazzed by it, but for a while, it made me feel like I was writing a fan fiction or something like that because it was like, Wow, I’m just like everybody else writing this. But as I got deeper, I really appreciated that feedback and it allowed me to really shape the story I told and hope it had more resonance and avoid overlooking something.”

And yes, if you’re wondering, Clarissa is a sexual being in the book. There was even a sexy scene excerpted at Cosmo. The surprising thing is who took the sex stuff the hardest.

“Guys had this perfect sort of Clarissa idea in their minds, right? You get softened up a little bit in the beginning because she starts talking in a normal way, but we don’t live in a world of pristine Pollyanna life,” Kriegman said. “That’s the other thing I mean about seeing a girl go from her know-it-all teens to her struggling 20s — that she’s a sexual being, that she exists and really sitting down to try and find out how that person — as opposed to an icon or a stereotype — becomes somebody.”

And Kriegman won’t rule out future Clarissa books.

“I’d love to keep going, just as I would have loved to keep going after the TV show. But you have to see what people think and all the normal kind of realities of publishing a book and producing things. I’d love to see what 26-year-old Clarissa looks like, but then again, I have ideas of what Clarissa at Melissa [Joan Hart]’s age would be doing, too.”

Well, color us intrigued. Clarissa always seemed so in-control in high school, the evolution of the character should really be something to watch. Things I Can’t Explain came out Tuesday from Thomas Dunne Books.
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