Melissa Joan Hart has been better known as “Clarissa”, “Sabrina”, and even “Mel Burke”. But the role that introduced most of us to the singular talent that is Melissa Joan Hart would be her first breakout role as Clarissa in Clarissa Explains It All on Nickelodeon. Now considered a cult nostalgic television show, it was merely popular back then. Running from 1991-1994, for a total of 65 episodes, it’s beloved by many of the children that grew up during the Nick era of television. It was the very first show on Nickelodeon to feature a female lead character and one of the very first television shows aimed at the younger demographic that featured a female lead. Punky Brewster (1984-1986) featuring Soleil Moon Frye (a role that Melissa lost out on) was one of the few earlier shows that predated Clarissa.
After Clarissa, Melissa moved on to Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, at the time an obscure Archie Comics character. Sabrina ran from 1996-2003, which is an extremely long run for any sitcom. Finding two successful roles on television is a hard ask of anybody, but Melissa Joan Hart has moved on to Melissa and Joey (2010-present), which co-stars Joey Lawrence from Blossom (1991-1995), in an unique pairing aimed squarely at nostalgia. Many interludes and “in-jokes” have been made throughout the episodes of Melissa and Joey, which makes it a joy to watch.
Being a popular and beloved actress is often enough to send someone to the finishing school for divas. That isn’t the case for Melissa Joan Hart – she had a remarkably normal childhood and life, despite being an actress ever since she was a child. As she writes in this autobiography, she wasn’t always a perfect angel. Sex and drugs are discussed frankly – she explains that the infamous Maxim cover shoot she did was when she was high on Ecstasy after a night of partying at the Playboy Mansion:
Melissa made this admission matter-of-fact, and was honest about her trials and tribulations throughout her life. It certainly made the book highly readable and put her in a whole different light – as a more relatable human being. She’s no different from the rest of us that have made our own mistakes in finding ourselves. Now 37 and settled down with a family, Melissa remains in the public view with her reputation intact even with skeletons out of the closet and available to anybody willing to read her book.
This is the kind of book that I wish more celebrities would write, but I doubt very many of them are as grounded as Melissa appears to be. Just look at the recent death of an actor – Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was obviously tormented by addiction demons throughout his life and was found dead in his apartment’s bathroom with a syringe in his arm and bags of heroin both empty and filled scattered throughout the place. With the amount of cash that actors and actresses have access to, along with their fame, it’s not hard to see how they can lose their way. Fortunately, this hasn’t been the case with Melissa Joan Hart.
Highly recommended if you’re a fan of Melissa Joan Hart’s.
Overall grade – A-
Edition: St. Martin’s Press, First Edition (October 29, 2013)
Binding: Hardcover with dustjacket
Page Count: 288