Welcome to the first day of our Big Orange Couch Week, when we revisit five of our favorite shows that were among the classic SNICK Saturday night lineups from the 1990s, and liveblog them!
Today, we’re kicking it all off with Clarissa Explains It All and Sick Days, the season one finale. Of course, back then, finales for Nick shows didn’t end in some ‘Who Shot J.R.?’ cliffhanger (that reference was relevant, right?), so many of these eps were stand-alones, which made it perfect for syndication. That being said, Sick Days is classic Clarissa: tension between her and her parents, tension between her and her little turd brother, Ferguson, and possible sexual chemistry between her and her BFF Sam. Let’s go back in time and see what happens when Clarissa plays sick – only to backfire on her soon enough.
Episode Title: Sick Days
Air Date: June 1, 1991
Clarissa fakes sickness in trying to get out of her part in the school pageant. But, when the play turns out to be a success, Clarissa truly becomes ill.
T: I do not remember this episode, but judging by the description, it’s going to be a GREAT one.
M: I vaguely remember it, but 1991 Molly would be floored that she was watching it at age 28 via an app and an internet connection on her flatscreen. Or, she would be floored if she knew what any of those things meant.
0:15 T: Does Clarissa have a lisp?
0:45 T: Whoa Janet Darling’s outfit is very Mom Jeans-esque!
T: My memories of Janet Darling – she is obsessed with healthy food. Like seaweed and sprouts and tofu.
M: I feel like moms have stopped saying “pronto.”
T: I feel like everyone has stopped saying “pronto”.
1:04 Opening Credits T: I don’t remember quirky pajamas being part of Clarissa’s ‘thing’?
M: Were those pool ball pajamas? Do tweens play pool? I know there wasn’t an internet in 1991 but I still don’t remember recreating at pool halls.
This theme song sounds wrong. The NaNas are too fast and Clarissa isn’t wearing that weird aerobicise outfit.
2:53 T: Sam asked Clarissa for help as he walked up the ladder and handed her an aquarium… did he climb up to the second story with this glass aquarium in his one hand?
M: Shhhh. My inner child can hear you.
T: Sam is like the Joey Potter to Clarissa’s Dawson. I’m sure this comparison hasn’t even been brought up before.
M: Between this, D.C., and Saved By The Bell, I was definitely lead to believe that in high school I’d have straight male friends crawling through my window all the time. Also that I’d have a straight male friend. NOT!
Remember “Not?” That was a thing people said a lot in 1991, it was like the “said nobody ever” unfunny punchline of the early ’90s.
T: Also did the all of this show’s budget just go toward’s Melissa Joan Hart’s wardrobe? Because the actor who played Sam looks like he straight up rolled out of bed and walked onto the set.
M: Sam Outfit #1: A giant blue Hanes t-shirt, rumpled plaid shorts from a man.
4:50 T: Sam – “I think this calls for the one sure-fire method of getting a sick day.” Clarissa: “What is it?” Sam – “Take it!” Sam’s comic timing is great. I’m not even being sarcastic.
T: As a kid I thought this show was ‘ahead of its time’, however now it just looks incredibly low-budget.
M: I think it actually looks ahead of its time compared to the Nick/Disney shows of today (I mean I love Girl Meets World, but otherwise). Instead of those slick production values, it looks more “indie” or “real.”
Wait, were those just words for cheap?
6:16 T: Marshall – “You’ve had two children, you’re not the same woman you were when you were 18.” Besides the fact he’s being a tad misogynistic, it really doesn’t matter if she can fit in it or not because this dress still sucks and she shouldn’t be wearing it.
M: Reunion themes like “wear what you wore in high school” are the reason we skipped our 10-year. Even though those boot-cuts and handkerchief hemlines are really calling my name.
6:50 M: Clarissa outfit #3: Giant robe, pajamas without billiards ephemera on them. Try harder, Darling.
7:10 T: MJH is doing her best coughing acting work and that is saying something.
8:37 M: Clarissa Outfit #4: I can’t see it behind the giant aquarium Sam carried one-handed up a two-story ladder.
M: Clarissa Outfit #5: A thing I think I saw a youth wear on the bus a few weeks ago
T: Soy muffin. Take a shot for Janet’s healthy weird snacks.
M: Janet’s 1991-weird food is stuff that’s all over Pinterest and instagram now. Oh, what 20 years will do.
11:30 T: Janet calls the family doctor, Dr. Festerspoon, to check on Clarissa. Did doctors still make house calls in ’91 or is this a result of low-budge and not being able to afford a medical office?? Also why would a sick doctor make a house call to a sick child???
M: And why is he from, like, the Progressive Era? Also of course Clariss has a rhinovirus, her room is a nest of dusty plants, hats, stuffed animals, and aquatic life. I feel germy just looking at it. Speaking of aquatic life: Clarissa Outfit #6: pajamas with a repeating trout motif.
12:30 T: Dr. Festerspoon suggests Clarissa’s common cold could escalate to “The Schezuan Flu” if she didn’t take care of herself… and then an Asian-sounding gong playing right after he said “The Schezuan Flu”…
T: What was the point of the guitar riff every time Sam came in?
M: Sexual tension music. But where “sex” is, like, exchanging slap bracelets and waving glowsticks in unison.
14:20 T: Clarissa – “I can’t miss Queen Latifah!” … because Queen Latifah is making a guest appearance at a small Ohio middle school for their Ancient Greece day, and it makes sense, obviously.
M: Wait, this is OHIO?
T: Per Wikipedia, it is!
15:25 M: Clarissa is trying to act like she feels better and she just put on the same outfit from earlier. I’m not counting it.
T: I just realized that both Marshall and Janet are home during the day? What are their jobs??
M: Architect and museum person. I, uh, watched a lot of Clarissa.
But seriously, this isn’t the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. You go to museums in the DAYTIME, I’m sure of it.
T: Clarissa’s phone isn’t the same one I used to covet? Did she just upgrade her season 1 phone to a clear one in the later seasons?
M: She absolutely did. My sister had the clear one – and her own phone line – and I thought it was the coolest thing in the universe. And I was right.
18:50 OMG CLARISSA’S U-N-I-T-Y OUTFIT
M: Clarissa’s Outfit #6: A Cultural Appropriation Headband. Next week’s episode: Clarissa Explains White Privilege.
19:37 M: Clarissa and Sam try to sneak out, but are thwarted by Ferg-Wad dressed as a Greek Cloud. Sam is again wearing a giant crumpled top that belongs to a dad.
20:53 M: To get Clarissa to stay home and convalesce from Asian Disease, Marshall plies her with any video rental she wants. Sometimes I forget about life before Netflix, when a sick day meant watching Wheel of Fortune or soap operas unless your parent did you a solid and picked up Beetlejuice.
21:12 M: Clarissa’s Outfit # Whatever: A floral top, honestly pretty good bangs for 1991, and I can’t pay attention to the rest because I’m looking at her awesome watermelon drinking glasses.
22:00 M: Man, what I wouldn’t give to tour Nickelodeon Studios, Universal Studios, in Orlando Florida during its heyday. Heck, I’d settle for a t-shirt. That I’d wear with two pairs of layered shorts and an African headband in Clarissa’s honor.
T: Nickelodeon Studios, Universal Studios, in Orlando, Florida was the MECCA for our generation. RIP.