1. Clarissa or Sabrina?
“I’ve loved all my characters,” Melissa Joan Hart says. “They’re all like children.” That’s a cop-out. While MJH can’t pick a favorite, we don’t have any special loyalty to either. Let’s break Clarissa and Sabrina down into categories to determine which character comes out on top.
Clarissa Darling has a strong sense of self: from the first moments of Clarissa Explains It All, she’s introduced as a smart and funky teenager. Sabrina, on the other hand, has a lot of growing to do — throughout Sabrina the Teenage Witch she transitions from awkward sorceress-in-training to mature adult witch. While Sabrina may emerge stronger, Clarissa gets extra credit for consistency.
It’s not even a competition. Like her character, Sabrina’s fashion sense evolved over the seasons. She looked good, sure, but it was never anything extraordinary. Meanwhile, Clarissa remains a style icon to young people who want to stand out, or anyone nostalgic for the ’90s. You might not want to wear anything Clarissa wore, but you envied her ability to pull it off.
4. Special Powers
Another category where there’s a clear victor. Clarissa’s powers mostly consisted of making computer games appropriate to her problem of the week, and dressing really cool. (See above.) That’s all well and good, but it’s no match for actual magic, which Sabrina has plenty of. If it came down to a battle of spells, there’s no doubt who would emerge victorious.
5. Love Life
Poor Clarissa. She and Sam just couldn’t make it work. Oh, sure, they were best friends, not lovers, but you know at one point or another, they both wanted something more. Sabrina had the same will-they-or-won’t-they quality with Harvey, but those two actually dated. And (major spoiler alert) Harvey swept her off her feet in the series finale. That’s the way love should be.
Clarissa has the advantage of the direct address: she was constantly breaking the fourth wall to explain it all to us. That creates a much more intimate relationship between Clarissa and the viewer. To be fair, we all wanted to be Sabrina, because hello, magic powers. But in terms of the character we related to most — the one we understood — it’s the normal teenage girl, without all the frills.
This one’s gonna be close. Who didn’t want a pet alligator growing up? And Clarissa’s was named Elvis. ELVIS. It doesn’t get any cooler. But Sabrina had a talking cat. Salem isn’t actually a pet — he’s just trapped in a cat’s body — but for the purposes of this debate, he counts. And he gets way better one-liners than poor silent Elvis.
The major mark against Clarissa here? Ferguson. But the rest of the Darling family was pretty great, right? Marshall and Janet were kooky but very supportive. The same goes for Sabrina’s aunts, although they did have a habit of disappearing in the later seasons. I guess she needed them less as adults, but it still felt like they were a less important presence in her life. The Darlings are the family that stays together.
9. Let’s calculate the results.
10. Get ready.
11. The Winner: Clarissa Darling
Despite a good showing from Sabrina, Clarissa is the victor. Though, yes, to be fair, Sabrina would totally win in a fight.