Clueless (TV series)

Clueless is an American teen sitcom based on the 1995 teen film of the same name (which was inspired by the Jane Austen book Emma). The series originally premiered on ABC on September 20, 1996, as a part of the TGIF lineup during its first season. The show then spent its last two seasons on UPN ending on May 25, 1999. Alicia Silverstone was unable to reprise her role from the film due to a development deal she signed with Columbia-TriStar at the time.[1][2]

GenreTeen sitcom
Created byAmy Heckerling
StarringRachel Blanchard
Stacey Dash
Elisa Donovan
Donald Faison
Sean Holland
Narrated byRachel Blanchard
Opening theme"Ordinary Girl"
performed by China Forbes
Composer(s)David Kitay
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes62 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Amy Heckerling (season 1)
Tim O'Donnell (seasons 2-3)
Camera setupFilm; Single-camera
Running timeapprox. 23 minutes
Production company(s)Cockamamie Productions
Paramount Network Television
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Original networkABC (1996–1997)
UPN (1997–1999)
Picture format480i (SDTV)
Original releaseSeptember 20, 1996 (1996-09-20) 
May 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)



Though the television program is based on the film, director Amy Heckerling intended it to be a TV show for Fox. It eventually was picked up by Paramount as a film, which then led to the television series.[3] Rachel Blanchard played the role of Cher that was originated by Alicia Silverstone in the film. Stacey Dash (Dionne), Donald Faison (Murray), Elisa Donovan (Amber), Wallace Shawn (Mr. Hall), and Twink Caplan (Ms. Geist) all reprised their film roles for the television series. Sean Holland (Sean), who appeared as Lawrence in the film, portrayed the new character Sean Holiday in the TV series. The program aired on ABC from 1996 to 1997 and with a network change to UPN from 1997 to 1999. The theme song for the TV series, "Ordinary Girl," was written by Charlotte Caffey (of The Go-Go's) and Anna Waronker, and was performed by China Forbes.

Differences from the movie

There are several notable inconsistencies in both characters and storylines between the Clueless film and the subsequent television series.

In addition to Rachel Blanchard as Cher, two other major roles were recast for the television series. The role of Cher's father Mel, the part Dan Hedaya originated in the film, was portrayed by Michael Lerner and was again recast with Doug Sheehan by the beginning of the show's second season on the air. By this time, Mel had grown significantly more mellow and humane than the character Hedaya had originated.

David Lascher took over the role of Josh from Paul Rudd in the television series, and the idea of having the character serve as a romantic interest for Cher was almost nonexistent in the TV storylines, while it was a major part of the plot of the film version. By the time the show moved to UPN, Josh was written out of the series entirely. Mr. Hall and Ms. Geist shared the same fate, and were also written out of the show by the time it switched networks.

Julie Brown's character in the original film was Coach Millie Stoeger, but in the television series her character's name was changed to Millie Diemer. In addition, Sean Holland, who only had a very minor role in the film as Murray's friend Lawrence, was playing a new character named Sean Holiday. Regardless, Holland's character had significantly more exposure on the television series (and was considered one of its stars) than the character of Tai Frasier (who was also recast with Heather Gottlieb when Brittany Murphy opted not to reprise the role), who only appeared in three episodes of the show, despite being one of the main characters in the film. The character of Christian, played by Justin Walker, was not included in the television series at all. Amy Heckerling, who wrote and directed the film, also wrote and directed several episodes of the show's first season, but did not remain on board with the series subsequently.

Although they did not reprise their original roles of Josh, Travis and Tai, actors Paul Rudd, Breckin Meyer and Brittany Murphy all made guest appearances in one episode each on the series as new characters; Meyer portrayed Harrison in the episode "Do We with Bad Haircuts Not Feel?", Rudd portrayed Sonny in the episode "I Got You, Babe," and Murphy played Jasmine in the episode "Driving Me Crazy."

The band Luscious Jackson, who performed the dance song "Here" for the Clueless movie soundtrack, also guest starred on the series in the episode "Sharing Cher" in order to perform their song "Naked Eye."

A few of the show's first-season episodes were broadcast out of order. The first episode to be broadcast was "As If a Girl's Reach Should Exceed Her Grasp" on September 20, 1996. The actual pilot episode, "Don't Stand So Close to Me," aired later on November 1, 1996.

Network change

After the series was canceled by ABC, the reruns of the episodes on their Friday night TGIF line-up proved to be ratings winners for ABC. However, it was too late for ABC to get the series back, and they prevented UPN from broadcasting the series until their contract ran out in late September. Clueless finished #46 in the ratings with 13.3 million viewers. Only Sabrina the Teenage Witch (a show on which Elisa Donovan and David Lascher would eventually become regulars) had higher ratings for Friday. Reportedly, the star of Sabrina, Melissa Joan Hart, was considered for the part of Cher on the Clueless TV series.

UPN cancelled the show after the third season (1998–1999), reportedly because of sharply declining viewership. By the final season, the show had retained only 30% of its original 1996 viewing audience.


Clueless is a teen comedy that follows the adventures of Cher Horowitz, a California girl who attends Bronson Alcott High. Cher and her friends navigate the ups and downs of high school life as they face struggles with relationships, school, and social status.

Cast and characters



Special guest stars


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
118September 20, 1996 (1996-09-20)February 14, 1997 (1997-02-14)ABC
222September 23, 1997 (1997-09-23)May 19, 1998 (1998-05-19)UPN
322October 6, 1998 (1998-10-06)May 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)


Sabrina the Teenage Witch

During the Season 1 episode "Mr. Wright,"[4] Melissa Joan Hart makes a cameo appearance playing Sabrina Spellman, her character on the ABC sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch (although she is not mentioned by name). At the end of the episode, Cher and Sabrina walk out of a building together, and Cher seems confused that Sabrina has apparently attended Bronson Alcott High School since September of that year. Cher had never seen Sabrina before, despite the fact that Cher knows everyone. Sabrina then says, "What, Cher, you think I just snapped my fingers and magically appeared? As if!" Once Cher's back is turned, Sabrina snaps her fingers and disappears, completely baffling Cher.


In a Halloween-themed episode[5] spoofing the popular Scream films, Cher, Dionne and Amber try to catch a stalker. Later, Amber hints at a Moesha crossover after calling out Moesha's name when the girls are looking for Murray and Sean. Shar Jackson and Lamont Bentley also appeared in a later episode in the roles of their Moesha characters. The crossover was designed to promote Brandy's upcoming film I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

U.S. television ratings

Season Season premiere Season finale TV season Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
1 September 20, 1996 February 14, 1997 1996–1997 #52[6] 8.6[6]
2 September 23, 1997 May 19, 1998 1997–1998 #148[7] 3.6[7]
3 October 6, 1998 May 25, 1999 1998–1999 #141[8] 2.8[8]


Clueless entered off-network syndication in fall 2000 along with Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Moesha and 7th Heaven, all of which are owned by CBS Television Distribution. It was the only series out of the four that was not picked up for a second season of syndication.

Reruns later aired on Nickelodeon and then The N until September 2009.

In Canada, it airs weekdays at 2:30 pm on MuchMusic, following Sabrina reruns.

In New Zealand, it aired on Saturday and Sundays at 5:30pm on defunct channel FOUR, following Sabrina reruns.

In Latin America, it was previously aired on Nickelodeon.

In the UK it was previously aired on CITV, ITV (early morning broadcasts), and Paramount Comedy Channel.


  1. "Labourer of love". The Sydney Morning Herald. June 9, 2004. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  2. Robert W. Welkos; Chris Riemenschneider (August 12, 1995). "Carrey ! Schwarzennegger ! Stallone ! Silverstone ?". Los Angeles Times.
  3. Chaney, Jen. "The Definitive Oral History of How Clueless Became an Iconic 90s Classic". HWD. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  4. Mr. Wright
  5. Scream Again Murray, Scream Again! (2)
  6. "Complete TV Ratings 1996-1997". Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  7. "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998. May 29, 1998. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  8. "TV Winners & Losers: Numbers Racket A Final Tally Of The Season's Show (from Nielsen Media Research)". GeoCities. June 4, 1999. Archived from the original on 2009-10-29. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
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