Sarah Michelle Gellar is reprising her Cruel Intentions role, but what else should the NBC series bring back?

Credit: Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Last week, fans of Sarah Michelle Gellar delighted at the news that she’d be reprising one of her most popular characters on a new TV series. Realistically speaking, that news was probably followed immediately by the clarification, “No, not Buffy and no, not Kendall Hart, but one of the others ones,” but it’s still reason to be excited.

Cruel Intentions stood out from the rest during the late ’90s teen movie boom. It was nasty, it was sexy and it was fun – and as manipulative bad girl Kathryn Mertuil, it let Gellar flex some acting muscles she didn’t get to use on Buffy. Her crimes are many; among others, she hid cocaine in a crucifix, grinded against her stepbrother, tricked the dumbest girl in school into becoming a floozy and got off some perfectly barbed insults. She got hers, in the end – set to “Bittersweet Symphony,” in case you’d forgotten.

The details about the new series are scant. All we know is that although Kathryn is back, the main character will be the son of Kathryn’s late stepbrother, Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe), and his high school love Annette (Reese Witherspoon). The kid – Bash, and guess what name that’s probably short for? – will be played by American Crime star Taylor John Smith, and he’ll purportedly be struggling with Kathryn for control of the family company.

That leaves us wondering what loose threads from the original film will tie into the new plot. Here are ten we’re curious about.

1. Where is Annette?

If Bash is the son of Witherspoon’s character, it’s reasonable that she might be making an appearance. However, given Witherspoon’s career and the fact that she’s working on a different show – Please Don’t Go, a divorce lawyer drama for ABC that she’s executive producing – it seems unlikely that Witherspoon would show up. Could they get away with recasting the character? Or would a cameo by Witherspoon be just the thing to get ratings gold?

Whoever might play Annette, has she been raising little Bash all these years, prepping him to be the one that takes Kathryn down for good? And if so, would that be done in classic Cruel Intentions style?

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2. When exactly was Bash conceived?

At least as far as we saw onscreen, Annette and Sebastian didn’t get the chance to make a baby all that many times. Is he the result of the getting-down that occurred after that famous airport escalator scene? He would have to be, since Sebastian kicked the bucket shortly thereafter. So, that would make him about 18 and more or less the same age that Kathryn, Sebastian and Annette were during the first film. That’s nice symmetry, at least.

3. Can Selma Blair please come back?

Witherspoon may be a big question mark, but we’re more optimistic that Selma Blair, who seems pretty comfortable on TV right now as Kris Jenner on The People vs. O.J. Simpson, would reprise her role as Cecile. A pawn in Kathryn and Sebastian’s weird sex game, Cecile was naïve, immature and based on her behavior in the film, quite possibly a little slow. As a result, she was also one of the best parts of the film, and we’d love to see where Cecile ended up today. We hope she’s older but not one bit the wiser.

4. And if Cecile comes back, can her mom come with her?

People tend to focus on all the sexual drama of Cruel Intentions to the point that they forget it was also a very funny movie, thanks in part to Blair but also Christine Baranski, who played Cecile’s overbearing mom. We’d be lucky to get a little Baranski in any form, but we should be especially stoked to see her do full-on comedy again. And you know what? The Good Wife is ending after this season, and Baranski would be free to make an appearance or two. We’re just saying

5. Can we learn more about the sad fate of Marci Greenbaum?

There’s one Cruel Intentions cast member you might have forgotten about: Tara Reid. She appears briefly in the film’s first scene as Marci, the daughter of Sebastian’s therapist (Swoosie Kurtz). Sebastian humiliates Marci, and we’d like to think both Greenbaums would have a vendetta against the Valmont family. Reid was next-to-unknown at the time Cruel Intentions hit theaters, but subsequently became famous enough that it might be fun to see either or both of them back, just as dysfunctional and furious all these years later.

6. Kathryn is still awful, right?

In a just world, Kathryn would have been humbled after Annette and Cecile publicly disgraced her by publishing Sebastian’s diary and telling the world what a monster she is. It’s a pretty spectacular downfall for a girl who at one point spouts the line, “Everybody loves me, and I intend to keep it that way.” However, no one really wants to see a reformed Kathryn, do they? We want her doing what she does best: plotting, scheming and saying nasty things, so can we just assume she emerged from the first film not having learned a thing?

7. Who ended up with that sweet Jaguar?

Yes, Annette was the major prize in Kathryn’s bet with Sebastian, but also in the mix was Sebastian’s Jaguar XK140. The movie closed out with Annette speeding off in it. We’d like to think the new show begins with her son cruising back into town, and into the Valmonts’ lives, in the same car.

8. Did Cruel Intentions 2 still happen?

What a lot of Cruel Intentions fans may have forgotten is that this new show wouldn’t be the first effort at bringing the movie to the small screen. Originally meant to have been broadcast in the 1999 fall season on Fox, Manchester Prep was canceled before a single episode aired. The three episodes that had been shot got cobbled into the direct-to-video movie Cruel Intentions 2 that served as a prequel. It’s not great, but it’s notable today that it starred Amy Adams as Kathryn, alongside characters named Danielle and Cherie that were supposed to be kinda-sorta analogues for Annette and Cecile. Does it still count? Is it still part of the Cruel Intentions-verse? Can we at least keep Mimi Rogers, who was perfectly cast as Kathryn’s mother?

If you want to really get into the pop culture minutiae of it – and this writer clearly does – Cruel Intentions 2 was released Nov. 9, 2000. It just so happens that only two days prior, Adams had guest starred on Buffy, opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar. It’s not like anyone should expect Adams to show up on the Cruel Intentions show; it’s just an interesting intersection between the careers of Gellar and Adams.

9. And what about Cruel Intentions 3?

The less said about this final film the better, but it at least tosses off a line about Kathryn being a patient in a methadone clinic – and that sounds about right as to Kathryn’s trajectory following her comeuppance at the end of the first film.

10. Can the series make good on its Dangerous Liaisons association?

We’re just spitballing here, but one of the nifty things about Cruel Intentions is that it’s a remake of Dangerous Liaisons. In fact, the scenes in Cruel Intentions actually line up pretty tidily with those in the 1988 adaptation of the French novel by Choderlos de Laclos. Glenn Close plays the Kathryn analogue, John Malkovich is Sebastian, Michelle Pfeiffer is Annette and Uma Thurman is Cecile. Heck, even Cruel Intentions cast member Swoosie Kurtz is the Christine Baranski figure.

What’s more, it’s not even the only big deal adaption of the novel. In 1989, the film Valmont had Annette Bening as the Kathryn, Colin Firth as the Sebastian, Meg Tilly as the Annette, and Fairuza Balk as the Cecile. It would be fun if this TV series could score any of these actors, just to reinforce the ties between the works. It would be the meta icing on the pop cultural cake, so to speak.