Clueless: The 90s classic that helped revive teen movies

It’s been 26 years since we were “totally bugging” over the release of Clueless, the defining teen movie of the 90s but it still stands up for today’s generation of teenagers.

Released on July 19, 1995, the iconic film featuring Alicia Silverstone as Cher, a rich, spoiled, ditzy but well-meaning 16-year-old is a loose retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma.

Cher played by Alicia Silverstone

Clueless helped revive the teen movie genre which had peaked in the mid ’80s with Risky Business, Pretty in Pink and the slew of other John Hughes movies. As mentioned on Episode 21 of History of the 90s, after the success of Clueless teen movies exploded with no less than 15 high school set films in 1999 including, Varsity Blues, She’s All that, Cruel Intentions, 10 Things I Hate About You and American Pie.

Clueless, was written and directed by Amy Heckerling, who made her directorial debut with Fast Times at Ridgemont High in the 80s.

Writer & Director Amy Heckerling

Heckerling told the New York Times in 1995 that the movie almost didn’t get made when 20th Century Fox, which owned the rights to the script, dropped its option. She said the studio didn’t have faith in her concept.

“They were worried about something that was so female-oriented.  They kept pressuring me to create more of a life for the boys in the film, to create more of an ensemble piece, which didn’t make sense to me at all.”

Paramount eventually picked up the script and turned it into the sleeper hit of the summer of ’95 making over $56 million dollars in domestic ticket sales. 

Part of the everlasting popularity of the movie can be attributed to the fact that it united multiple generations.  An article in Huffington Post sums it up best:

“It was written and directed by a Boomer, marketed to Gen X, made a contemporary classic by millennials and transformed into a point of nostalgia by Gen Z.”

Clueless helped launch the careers of Paul Rudd and the late Brittany Murphy and in the last quarter century has inspired a TV show, books, a comic book series and an off-Broadway musical written by Heckerling.

Today, the cult classic is known for its iconic 1990s style.  For Cher and friends, fashion was everything.   Who can forget Cher’s famed yellow plaid mini skirt and blazer and feather-lined cardigans or Dionne’s knee-high stockings and hats. 

 “Do you prefer fashion victim or ensembly challenged?”

To celebrate the 26th anniversary of Clueless Alicia Silverstone took to instagram today to recreate a famous scene from the movie.


44 year old Alicia and her 10 year old son Bear renacted the scene where Cher wears a white Calvin Klein dress that her father doesn’t approve of.

For more stories from the 1990s make sure to check out my podcast History of the 90s on ApplePodcasts, Spotify, Google Play and anywhere else you stream audio. You can also listen at

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