It was a rainy Friday evening when my husband and I curled up to watch the 1999 teenage sex romp Cruel Intentions. Vintage Sarah Michelle Gellar. Reese and Ryan back when they were still an item. Selma Blair before she was the go-to witchy brunette. And the whole thing was based on an 18th-century French novel. What’s not to love?
A lot…as it turns out. See, whereas high school ’90s classics like Clueless and Romy and Michele have actually aged better with time—and proved themselves paragons of feminist-leaning rom-coms—this one is wildly problematic. Like, how was it ever socially acceptable?
In case you haven’t seen the film lately—which you should for the sheer horror’s sake—allow me to refresh your memory, in the wake of the 20th anniversary.