The Decades-Long Story Behind Writing Tracy Flick

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Tom Perrotta revisits his cult character and looks back on the '90s feminism that made her. Paramount Pictures / Alamy; The Atlantic In the dark 1999 Election , the overachieving student Tracy Flick—played by an up-and-coming Reese Witherspoon—dreams of political domination, starting with the race for class president at her suburban high school. For afterward, viewers remembered Tracy as “abrasive” and “unpleasant,” in the words of her creator, the author Tom Perrotta. Her name became shorthand for female politicians—especially, during the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton. More than two decades later, American culture is revisiting the maligned of the past (think Monica Lewinsky , Pamela Anderson , and Tonya Harding ). The attention isn't limited to real-life figures, either, as sequels and reboots pull well-known characters into the present day. In Tracy Flick Can't Win , the follow-up to the 1998 novel on which the movie was […]

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