Madison Ivey

Date of Award


Degree Type



English Language and Literatures

Director of Thesis

Dr. Susan Courtney

First Reader

Dr. Gregory Forter

Second Reader

Dr. Gregory Forter


At the turn of the twenty-first century two chick flicks entered the scene featuring comedic commentary on expectations of gender representation. Although the blanket genre “chick flicks” often is considered “a disparaging term that diminish[es] the significance of women-oriented cinema,” its loose criteria of having “a primary appeal to female viewers…concentration on issues relevant to women, and…focus on a female protagonist” apply to both films (Hollinger 221). The term “women’s films” could be used instead, or even “romantic comedy” (despite a lack of focus on the love narratives), but since the two films, Miss Congeniality (Petrie, 2000) and Legally Blonde (Luketic, 2001), subtly defy some negative connotations surrounding conventionalized femininity and the women who participate in it, reclamation of the term chick flick seems apropos. Also the audience of chick flicks is just as underestimated as an audience (as Elle is as a protagonist) and gendered as the term and the films. In fact, a precursor to the films, Amy Heckerling’s 1995 cult classic Clueless, “challeng[ed] the popular opinion that a film whose core audience was teen girls wasn’t financially lucrative” (Hunting 145). The two films discussed in this paper assert the power of girls as consumer. Both films targeted the market of women, younger women in particular, and both were box office successes and spawned sequels (more for Legally Blonde with a third film and a Broadway musical).

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