‘Clueless’ and the Art of Female Friendship

Clueless (1995). Cher and Dionne stand together against a chainlink fence, their fingers touching mid-handshake. Cher has long blonde hair up in a ponytail and wears a white t-shirt with a black vest over it. Dionne has long dark hair in lots of braids, a nose piercing, and a white bandana over her hair. She is wearing a sheer black long sleeved top with a white vest over the top of it to match Cher.

When you think of beloved teen romantic comedies, there’s no doubt that Clueless will be at the top of the list for many people. The 25th anniversary of the film’s release recently passed, and it is arguably more well-loved today than it was back then. While Clueless is full of great one-liners and killer outfits, it also portrays a great example of strong female friendships that has remained relevant throughout the years. 

Clueless, while a classic in its own right, is a retelling of Jane Austen’s literary masterpiece Emma. Though they are set in different times and differ in many ways, both works emphasise the importance of communication, following your heart, and being a good friend. On the other hand, while the similarities between the two are plentiful, Clueless has plenty of unique charm and a cast of lovable characters to allow it to stand the test of time on its own. 

At the beginning of the film, Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne (Stacey Dash) are total friend goals: synchronised outfits, similar slang, and effortless chemistry show how close the girls are. Their friendship is further emphasised as they work together to first set up their teachers and eventually embark on a project to give new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy) a makeover. Though Cher initially hatches the schemes, she can’t reach her goals without her best friend’s help.

The girls themselves are different in many ways, and while originally Cher and Dionne want to change Tai to what they deem socially acceptable, they eventually learn to love her for who she is. As the girls work to “improve” Tai’s look and popularity status, the three of them grow closer and we see the different ways they encourage and support each other. They differ in everything from the status of their virginities to their driving abilities, yet they don’t put each other down because of their different experiences. The only time we see Tai say some way-harsh things to Cher is followed pretty soon after with a heartfelt apology and a promise to never repeat things like that in the future. 

Clueless (1995). Cher and Tai are standing in front of a mirror, studying Tai's appearance, as Dionne stands beside the mirror holding a plaid skirt on a hanger. Cher is tall and blonde and wearing a fitted burgundy dress, her hands are on Tai's waist who is smaller than her and has curly auburn hair. She wears grey slacks and a white cropped blouse, but she covers her stomach with her hands. Dionne is tall and slim, and also wears a crop top which is pink, yellow, and black stripes, with black pants. There is a purple brimmed had balanced on top of the mirror.

The teary-eyed dual apology toward the end is also a great reminder of a healthy way to communicate in a friendship. Not only did both girls take time away to gather their thoughts and reflect on their actions, but they were equally as quick to point the blame at themselves in an effort to make up. The way they quickly realized how meaningless their fight was is a testament to their friendship and the amount of care they have for each other. Rather than depicting girls constantly trying to one-up each other, the writers of Clueless created an accepting atmosphere that more realistically reflects life. Cher, Dionne, and Tai are nowhere near perfect, but when they do make mistakes, they are open and honest with each other. The realness of fighting and making up is a breath of fresh air, as you can clearly see the strength in the friendship when the girls do reconcile.

Clueless has kept its position at the top of many people’s list of most beloved films for the past 25 years because it shows what it means to be a friend, including the good, the bad, and everything in between. Friends compliment each other, support each other, and are always willing to help, but they also sometimes have fights and do harmful things even though they have good intentions. The best part of Clueless is the way the friends continue to love each other throughout their ups and downs and learn to be even better friends by the end. 

Besides, could you name a cooler trio of people you’d want to hang out with? Ugh, as if

by Brooke Mondor

Brooke is a recent graduate from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s degree in Media Arts. Her favorite kinds of movies are documentaries, anything that can make her cry, and 80s rom-coms. Find her on Instagram and Twitter

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