What Ever Happened to Melissa Joan Hart?

Melissa Joan Hart first gained notoriety when Clarissa Explains It All became a Nickelodeon hit. She was fifteen when the show began in 1991 and eighteen when it ended in 1994. Hart then began attending New York University, but left in 1996 before receiving a degree to star in the TV movie and series Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which ran until 2003.

I remember watching both of these shows as a young boy and then as an early adolescent. Although I was not a fan of Clarissa, and I preferred other Nickelodeon shows, I remember appreciating its understated nature and the way it dealt with the quotidian nature of (adolescent) life (this was not how I described it then, of course, but I’m speculating as to what I must have found appealing). Looking back, there is definitely something special about the fact that Clarissa regularly broke the fourth wall to address her audience, although I did not realize it at the time. Because of the nostalgia for the show and the sense that it remains appealing today to teens, Nickelodeon is going to air reruns again.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch was also a hit with audiences, and clearly is the precursor to shows like Wizards of Waverly Place, which I just learned about because of Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards. I liked Sabrina more; I appreciated the talking cat, and I think there is something appealing about the thought of having magical powers to make life easier/cooler that compelled me to watch the show.

In any case, it seemed like Melissa Joan Hart was a big deal between these two shows. Then while Sabrina was still running she starred in Drive Me Crazy (1999). I can’t remember why I saw this movie or even knew about it at all; perhaps because the adolescent lives it depicted were so unlike my own. It actually wasn’t much of a success; box office reports rank it at #90 for that year. Nonetheless, it was a real Hollywood movie and not made for TV, unlike so many of Hart’s projects. It seemed like perhaps Hart had made the transition from child/teen star into, at least, a successful B-level Hollywood actress.

But then she left my radar. What ever happened to Melissa Joan Heart? A small look into her life is provided with this episode of MTV cribs that aired in 2001. Admittedly, she seems kind of boring. In 2003, the same year Sabrina ended, she married Mark Wilkerson, leader of a band called Course of Nature and a relative nobody compared to Hart. Together they had two children.

Hart’s career in Hollywood has not been fruitful; in 2000 she had a small part in The Specials as “Sunlight Grlll,” where she played an unpopular superhero on her day off. The film was given an “R” rating for language. She also starred in a B-horror movie called Nine Dead in 2009, which had trouble finding a distributor. Most of her career in movies has been limited to TV productions with titles like Dirt Bag and Hollywood in Handcuffs.

After Sabrina, Hart continued to act for television; notable roles include a part in Robot Chicken and Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit, where she played a teacher accused of statutory rape.

In 2009, Hart opened a Candy store in California called Sweet Harts.

As of now, Hart is starring in the ABC Family show Melissa and Joey, which ran its first season last year and is slated to run again this year. In the show, after an unfortunate series of events, Melissa – played by Hart – is forced to hire Joey, a jobless and bankrupt trader, as a male live-in nanny (“manny”) to help take care of her incarcerated sister’s teenage children. It’s a fitting sort of gesture, I suppose, that Hart made a name for herself in a show that detailed the life of a teenager and now stars in a show that details the trials of taking care of a teenagers. TC mark

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  • http://twitter.com/BR_ADD B.R. Gabriel

    isn't she a republican now too?
    http://www.avclub.com/articles

    • PERFECTCIRCLES

      The evidence is inconclusive.

  • notajingoist

    Oh she was also on Dancing with the Stars a while back I think.

  • Peter T. Bedu

    A 'Sabrina The Teenage Witch' movie was on yesterday..this was real?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carlos-Ortiz/1279921705 Carlos Ortiz

    I liked Clarissa, I wasn't a teenager when it aired where I lived (I was ~5-11 years old) so I found it interesting in that she did things, or was just starting to really, that I considered cool and advanced like staying up until 10 pm ( I remember she was waiting for this curfew to be removed in her latter adolescence) and going out on dates and grunge concerts and fucking with computers.
    She was bright and 'full of life'.
    I thought that quotidian existence of hers was cool, like she was 'living the life'.

    Looking back on a clip on youtube I'm pretty sure I had a crush on her but I think other aspects of the show and her character made a bigger impression on me as to not let that blossoming attraction (I remember ackwnoledging the age gap sharply in that sense also) define my relationship to the show. I saw parts of myself in her, like how she's a free thinker and has an affinity for music and a varied taste.
    I am feeling very attracted now thinking about her fictionally.

    I don't know if I consumed the whole series like it tends to happen when you are routinely in front of a TV catching reruns of a show that keeps you entertained, but I wouldn't be surprised.

    One day I catch the last episode, and so Clarissa has been doing all this journalistic work in school throughout the show's existence, so naturally she is inclined towards going to college to obtain a degree in such a field. But that wasn't obvious to me then, and even if it was it wasn't really about her it was about me. There's this tension in this episode that made me really uncomfortable in a subtle manner, I have felt anxiety towards careers and my professional future ever since I understood the concept of a job as a serious income-factor and role in a capitalist society (around the age of 5), and the fact that she doesn't know whether she's gonna get accepted and that she's gonna move away from her family and best friend if she does is enough to make me feel anxious just vaguely recalling that mood.

    I'm reading on wikipedia that they were gonna continue the show, and they even filmed a pilot but the show was pulled without explanation.
    And omg they did air it I bet it's on youtube.. omg here it is

    I was gonna end my comment by expressing that I don't care about MJH anymore (I never liked “Sabrina” a lot, I watched it because I watched everything on Nickelodeon pretty much, but she immediately lost all appeal to me as both a character and girl I used to find conceptually attractive as soon as she 'changed') and I know what 'happened' to her, and that what I want to know is what happened to Clarissa, but I guess I have found a 20 minute break from my longing and nostalgia.

  • Whyyyyyyyy

    This article was so boring. I can't even believe it.

    • Neal Mackey

      why you mad, girl?

  • RamonaCC

    Drive Me Crazy was once my favorite movie.

  • Srrsly?

    *Holiday In Handcuffs

  • lando

    i got really high and watched 'sabrina' while i was in high school

  • your.real.life

    this whole article was whipped up around that tie in at the end
    she seemed really shallow in the cribs vid, she lost all her lots post puberty

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