The dramatic Clueless TV update would center on the mystery of Cher’s disappearance and Dionne’s rise as queen bee. As if!
Did we learn nothing from the hot mess Heathers television reboot? Sometimes, turning a beloved, cult classic teen film into a TV series for modern consumption simply doesn’t work. Next up on the Hollywood reboot conveyor belt, CBS TV Studios has a drama series adaptation of 1995’s Clueless in development that would feature a mystery twist. If that sounds dystopian to you, just know you’re not alone.
The proposed Clueless reboot, which has gained interest from current reboot haven The CW as well as some streaming services, would repackage the film’s story to center on Dionne, the character played by the now-problematic Stacey Dash. In the wake of Cher’s (played to perfection by Alicia Silverstone) curious disappearance, Dionne assumes her position as the most popular girl in school, all while trying to figure out what happened to her best friend. So… not Clueless?
Look, this isn’t another case of a disgruntled fan rejecting the idea of a reimagining of their favorite movie. For all intents and purposes, the logline sounds pretty interesting, especially given the current market for mystery-centric, teen-skewing shows. But there’s no justifiable reason that Clueless needs to be part of this story. Remove the successful property from this series and it could exist on its own as a viable teen drama with the potential to someday net its own reboot.
Just look at the proposed reboot’s official synopsis from Deadline:
"“Written by Jordan Reddout and Gus Hickey (Will & Grace), the new Clueless — Mean Girls meets Riverdale meets a Lizzo music video — also is set in high school. It is described as a baby pink and bisexual blue-tinted, tiny sunglasses-wearing, oat milk latté and Adderall-fueled look at what happens when the high school queen bee Cher disappears and her lifelong No. 2 Dionne steps into Cher’s vacant Air Jordans. How does Dionne deal with the pressures of being the new most popular girl in school, while also unraveling the mystery of what happened to her best friend, all in a setting that is uniquely 2020 L.A.?”"
Interesting, right? What’s most interesting is the Mean Girls meets Riverdale description. Again, what does that have to do with Clueless? The 1995 film, which itself was based on Jane Austen’s Emma and received an ABC/UPN sitcom spin-off in 1996, centered on a spoiled teen busybody learning to mind her own business and help others without selfish intent. This “Adderall-fueled” reboot doesn’t seem concerned with the heart of Clueless and shouldn’t use its name.
If there’s one thing this reboot has going for it, No Tomorrow creator Corinne Brinkerhoff will executive produce. But how many times are we going to give questionable reboots a shot because they come from someone whose work we respect? Fellow ’90s teen classic The Craft will soon hit theaters with a remake from writer-director Zoe Lister-Jones, meaning it could very well be good. At some point, though, we have to wonder who these reboots are for and why they’re being made.
When Will & Grace returned to NBC in 2017, they had something to say. In the following years, Roseanne and Murphy Brown each made comebacks on ABC and CBS respectively, which could have been read as the networks attempting to cash in on the revival whirlwind. Scream landed a television adaptation on MTV, and in the last few years, popular shows like Dynasty, Charmed, and Roswell have been rebooted and remade for the modern audience.
And that’s a small sampling of the overwhelming wave of reboots taking over television and film. NBC’s upcoming streaming service Peacock has a Saved by the Bell reboot on deck, HBO Max will dip back into the Upper East Side with a Gossip Girl continuation, and Hilary Duff will reprise her role as Lizzie McGuire for Disney+. Currently, CBS has a darker take on Nancy Drew airing on The CW from The O.C. and Gossip Girl dynamic duo Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
In some cases, it’s a tipped hat to nostalgia, but in others, it’s a gross exploitation of brand recognition, which seems to be the case for Clueless. CBS owns the rights to the film. Why not sanction it a second life with its built-in popularity?
From a studio standpoint, rebooting Clueless feels disingenuous and like a greedy money-grab to keep up with phenomenons like Riverdale and Euphoria, two teen dramas the could-be update seems to be appropriating from the most. Who knows, a year from now all of us who are protecting the integrity of our girl Cher Horowitz could be eating our words when the reboot proves us wrong. However, reboots have jumped the shark. Enough is definitely enough.
Each time a new reboot, revival, or remake gets announced, the chorus of fans bemoaning the lack of original content grows louder and louder. We directly drove this wave of nostalgia-laden content to its unfathomable heights, and we’re now dismissing the deep-dive back into the archives. You have to admit, it’s gotten spectacularly out of hand. Just like the rise of a handful of new streaming services, it’s almost impossible to keep track of which shows and movies are being force fed to us in bingeable new iterations.
Giving Clueless a Riverdale twist and a Lizzo music video timeliness doesn’t intrigue me. It makes me feel like television consumers aren’t being heard, and instead, the legacy of a generation-defining film is being auctioned off for Gen Z online virality. Reboots have finally surpassed their original intention of honoring treasured titles from the past and are officially infringing on the future of original storytelling. Do we need more of them? As if!
What do you think? Would you watch the Clueless reboot? How do you feel about reboots? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments!