At first glance, Cher Horowitz might seem too perfect. Alicia Silverstone’s iconic character has the unflappable confidence of a girl who achieves whatever she chooses.
But Clueless, which opened in theaters 20 years ago this week, is a story about realizing you have growing up to do, even if you’re the most put-together girl in school. Despite exterior appearances, there’s a lot in the film that real-life teenagers could relate to – and there still is, even two decades later.
Here, then, are 20 life lessons Clueless has been teaching us for the past 20 years.
1. Opposites may attract, but when it comes to best friends, find someone who gets where you’re coming from and understands your struggles.
2. Family can outlast a divorce. As Cher’s dad says, "You divorce wives, not children."
3. Grades are debatable. Another gem from Cher’s dad: "Never accept a first offer."
4. There are limits to how hard you party – yes, even if you’re a teenager.
5. " ‘Tis a far, far better thing to do stuff for other people," even if that altruism means giving a makeover to the girl sporting a Troll T-shirt and a Kool-Aid dye job.
6. Parking is inessential, at least if you live in Cher Horowitz’s bubble of a world.
7. Hamlet did not say "To thine own self be true." It was actually that guy Polonius. Mel Gibson Shakespeare adaptations FTW!
8. The guy who dresses better than you do may not be a perfect match for you. As Cher asks, "What would I bring to the relationship?"
9. Don’t be afraid to defend your fashion choices.
10. A twofer: A command of art history terminology can make for a perfect put-down; what looks good from a distance may not seem so hot up close.
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11. If you’re alone at a party, just play it cool, and eventually Paul Rudd will come rescue you from loneliness.
12. Seduction begins with the mouth
13. and then goes to the nose
14. When you’re a high school virgin – er, that is, "hymenally challenged" – there’s a difference between being a prude and waiting for the right guy. You’re allowed to be selective.
15. Freeway driving in Los Angeles is terrifying and should be something you work toward gradually. Be careful where you exit.
16. High school girls can probably do a lot better than high school boys.
17. There are times when the unvarnished truth is just the most brutal thing you can tell someone. (But as long as you’re being way harsh, that raised eyebrow at the end makes the burn hurt all the worse.)
18. Even the prettiest girl in school has the occasional moment of self-doubt, but it’s nothing a walk though Beverly Hills can’t fix.
19. Sometimes you find love where you least expect it – even perhaps with someone who was once legally your sibling.
20. One magic word – and a matching hand gesture – can fend off any criticism.