I didn’t really get Clueless as a kid, despite its undeniable impact on pop culture and elevating Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, and Brittany Murphy to movie-star status. I was nine when it hit theaters (yes, for anyone doing the math, that makes me an “elder millennial”), so a lot of the humor went over my head, and I was still several years away from reading my first Jane Austen novel. Even watching the film again after college, I found it more interesting as a 90s time capsule than anything else. That all changed recently, when I finally read Emma (I know, I know!) and chased it with a viewing of director Autumn de Wilde’s new movie adaptation, which in turn gave me the urge to try Clueless one more time. You know, for science.
Lo and behold, I absolutely adored Clueless this time around, understanding all in a rush why some Austen scholars consider it the superior Emma adaptation. For all that she’s a thoroughly modern 20th-century girl, Cher, as portrayed by Silverstone, retains all Emma’s frustrating self-absorption—and her endearing good-heartedness. Of course, the film’s sly wit, iconic fashion, and effervescent performances don’t hurt either.
Now that I’ve seen the light, there’s no going back, and I’m fine with it. In fact, I want more! Which is why I’m thrilled to share my Clueless-inspired TBR list with you, just in time for its twenty-fifth (!!!) anniversary.