Clueless came out in 1995, and since then, it’s become an iconic part of American culture. In fact, it remains so beloved that Alicia Silverstone, who played the starring role of Cher in the film, brought back the character for a commercial during this year’s Super Bowl. Before Clueless became a movie, it was almost created as a TV series instead. But the studio executives passed on the idea because they thought it was missing one important element.
‘Clueless’ was almost a TV show called ‘No Worries’
Amy Heckerling, the writer and director of Clueless, had a goal: to create an adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel Emma with a positive, happy teenage main character. As she explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she thought about this project when she heard that Twentieth Century Fox was looking for a TV show about teens.
She and associate producer Twink Caplan pitched her idea to them, imagined as a series called No Worries. But the studio executives didn’t understand what they were going for.
“When we showed No Worries to Fox, it was obvious they didn’t get it,” Caplan explained. “They thought the script needed more boys in it. They were afraid that if they focused on girls, we wouldn’t get any guys to see it. So it went into turnaround. It was dead.”
But they believed in the project, even if it was focused on girls, and they weren’t ready to give up on it yet. They kept trying to find someone who was willing to take a chance on the project.
‘Clueless’ eventually became a TV show anyway
Despite the initial reluctance to take on the project, a producer at Paramount eventually saw its potential. The resulting movie was a hit. In fact, it was so popular that it opened up doors that had been closed before. Riding the wave of enthusiasm, Paramount Television Productions created a TV series by the same name, based on the movie.
According to IMDb, the TV version of Clueless debuted on September 20, 1996. Some of the characters were played by different actors, although many of the movie stars stuck with the project, including Stacey Dash and Donald Faison. The show ran for three seasons before being canceled.
The response to the series was lukewarm (one review called it “a stylish Saved by the Bell.“) It never quite captured the public’s interest.
But the movie’s cultural influence, on the other hand, still hasn’t dimmed.
‘An’Clueless’ remains an enduring part of pop culture
Clueless continues to capture the hearts of viewers. It’s still so popular that Silverstone reprised her role in the movie for a Super Bowl commercial in 2023. Not only was she instantly recognizable as Cher, but the viewers’ response to the spot was overwhelmingly positive.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Silverstone believes that Cher’s personality is a big reason that people still love the movie after almost 30 years. And it also made it a lot of fun to play the character.
“Cher is so confident and bossy — but passionate — and believes so clearly in what she’s talking about,” she said. “She has a huge heart. There are a lot of fun things about her, and they make her really happy.”
The idea for Clueless came from a classic novel, was initially imagined as a TV series, became a blockbuster movie, and finally found its way back to TV. Along the way, it spawned scores of memes, well-used catchphrases, and legions of devoted fans.