Clueless – It Really is Shakespeare?!

Full disclosure: I hadn’t watched Clueless in about 5 years and only remembered the iconic, “As if!” line from memes. So, after learning it was an adaptation of, “Emma” (an adaptation of Shakespeare), I became equally intrigued and skeptical. I also invited my best friend to watch it alongside with me; she remembered more than I did so enjoyed my commentary and reactions throughout the film.


As soon as Josh was introduced as a character in the movie, Clueless, I immediately stated, “Oh! So him and Cher end up together.” The witty banter was too similar to Benedict and Beatrice that I assumed they would be the leading couple. One fun thing I noticed were the subtle connections to original themes displayed in the original Much Ado. For example, while there is no accusation of adultery that drives a couple’s plot, we are introduced to Dionne and Murray (as a couple) when Dionne briefly accuses him of cheating saying she found a hair extension in his car. We also see various types of scheming with other’s relationships. First with Mr. Hall and Ms. Geist, then with Tai and Elton. Lastly, I’m not sure how intentional this was, but I love that there was a large amount of lingo and slang that is not used to day. It makes us have a similar reaction to that of reading Shakespeare where we have to look closely at the language they use, the context they use it in and possible double meanings.

If Cher is our Beatrice/Emma, and Dionne is our Hero, then Tai is definitely our Harriet. I agree with the NPR episode in which one person states the actress that plays Tai is “the beating heart of the film”, because she is the motivation behind Cher’s character development. She gives her purpose in the beginning, conflict in the center and then clarity by the end. Also, I love that Clueless (and in a way Emma) went away from Shakespeare’s two-couple pattern while still keeping his wedding-ending hallmark.


  1. I had a very experience. Throughout watching Clueless (my first time), I was routinely pointing out to myself all the similar plot points and scenes that came directly from Emma. It’s really cool to be able to see each of the works in succession and be able to pick out bits and pieces that contributed to each updated version.

  2. This was my first time ever seeing Clueless but I too watched it with my friends who had seen it. I think you hit on very good notes about the comparisons between the films, especially the comparison of Tai and Harriet and how they both play a role in our Cher/Emma character development! I think this is an important piece in our adaptation, to have them teach each other and grow from one another.

  3. I also thought there were a lot of purposeful similarities hidden in necessary changes. But it was very fun and refershing- especially knowing the Shakespearian connection- when characters made direct references to key plot-points. For example, the ending wedding scene was a great way to wrap it up, in my opinion.

  4. I also immediately picked up on the banter between Josh and Cher. I also noticed that similar to Beatrice, Cher asks about and makes fun of Josh before he arrives, in the same way, Beatrice does with Benedick when he is returning from war. Cher also immediately berates him when he returns, which is almost always a sign of flirtation for people that age.

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