Clueless, the favorite sleepover film of pretty much every girl who grew up in the ’90s, turned 22 yesterday! This means two things: one, we’re old, and two, we have a perfectly legitimate excuse to revisit the teen classic. Truth be told, there isn’t much that hasn’t been said about Clueless, with the possible exception of this: If it were made today, it would probably be about Amber. I know, I know, you’re thinking, that ensembly challenged wannabe?! No way. But hear me out.
She’s the classic ‘unlikeable’ female character: After decades of watching dudes act like assholes in movies and television (not to mention real life), women have only recently received the privilege of playing less-than-perfect characters. Self-absorbed, Manolo-hoarding Carrie Bradshaw, who made her HBO debut three years after Clueless was made, paved the way not only for the Girls girls, but for bad girl-centric films like Bad Teacher, Bachelorette, Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, Young Adult, and countless others. It’s hip to be complicated these days because it’s funnier and more relatable than watching someone skate through life on sunshine and rainbows for 90 minutes. Sure, Cher had her flaws, but at the end of the day, she was your basic good girl. Which is way less fun to watch than someone like Amber, who rolls her eyes and speaks her mind without abandon.
She wears her emotions on her sleeve: It’s pretty obvious that the reason behind Amber’s bitchiness towards Cher is pure jealousy. I mean, if Alicia Silverstone and her epic ’90s blowout were your high school classmates, wouldn’t you be jealous? This palpable envy makes Amber just sympathetic enough that we can overlook her mean girl tendencies and see some of ourselves in her — a classic trait of great ‘unlikeable’ characters. After all, who among us isn’t a rage-spewing ball of unchecked jealousy and resentment sometimes, amirite?
Her fashion sense is nuts (in the best way possible): It’s hard not to respect someone who has no qualms about rolling into class in a straight up sailor hat with a blinged-out dollar sign on it. I mean, come on. That takes commitment, especially in high school, where individuality typically doesn’t win you many points. Not to mention her Pippi Longstocking braids, jailbird-inspired gym uniform, and matching turtleneck-and-knee-socks combo. While Amber wears similar styles to the other girls (lots of plaid, marabou accents, and the infamous dress also owned by Cher), she takes the looks to their natural conclusion. Were she a real person who worked in the fashion world, Amber would no doubt be a street style queen. (Can somebody call Amy Heckerling and get this sequel in the works, please?)
She’s on the fringes of the clique: Cher and Dionne were the undeniable queen bees of their group, and because they were sequestered at the top, we didn’t get a very thorough look at the real group dynamics at play. Which, fine, maybe wasn’t the point of the movie, but then again, what was the point of the movie? Think about it: Cher is so sheltered from the realities of her group that she doesn’t even realize that Elton is a total creep until it’s almost too late. As a fringe member of the clique, Amber would provide a much more honest, fly-on-the-wall perspective of the cool kids.
She’s a much more obvious parody: Okay, so I lied. I know what the point of the movie was: to parody the lives of absurdly rich Beverly Hills teens for the amusement of slightly less privileged teens from other places. Clueless obviously did a great job of this, hence why we’re still writing about it 22 years later. But even though she’s a parody, Cher is also pretty aspirational. She’s gorgeous, sweet, cares about school (kind of), has great hair, helps her dad with his legal practice for some reason, and she’s even a virgin (who, fine, can’t drive). Her occasionally ridiculous or self-absorbed behavior does little to mitigate these facts. But you know who’s a great, super obvious parody? Amber. Had she been the star of the film, you might not have wanted to be her, but you definitely would have laughed with her. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the point?
She doesn’t fall in love with her step-brother: A fact that makes Amber infinitely more relatable than Cher, who, well, does. It’s kind of hard to blame her, given that he’s played by a young, brooding Paul Rudd, but… still.