First Time Watching: Mean Girls

Twelve years after graduating from high school, I think I finally understand everything that occurred, thanks to Mean Girls. I also have a better understanding of life, in general.

Who knew that this movie held all the answers?

Before Watching

Mean Girls is known for its iconic quotes, that are now preserved in the form of internet memes. I knew most, if not all, of them before watching. I wasn’t going into the movie completely blind.

Did I know the plot? Not really.

As the movie went along, I felt like I knew what was coming before it happened. I don’t know how to explain that. Did I somehow see this movie as a kid? Or was the plot obvious and anyone could’ve figured it out?

Synopsis

Lindsay Lohan is going by the name, Cady, in this movie. Teachers and students mistakenly call her, “Caddy”. Being homeschooled her entire life means she hasn’t faced this problem before. Her parents were zoologists in Africa.

Side note: Lindsay Lohan also acts as the narrator. Is it just me or was she also the narrator in a few other movies in the early 2000s?

Cady befriends Janis and Damian, who fill her in on school cliques and have her unknowingly skip 12th Grade Calculus. Don’t go near the “Plastics”, they said. They’re the popular girls, who are also mean.

The Plastics are a trio of oh dio mio: The Regina George, Gretchen Oscar Meyer Wieners, and Karen Smith.

One day, the “Plastics” invite Cady to sit with them at lunch. And because you can’t say “No!” to that, she sits with them and is invited into their inner circle of plasticity. Is it called plasticity? I’m just free-wheeling here.

Janis encourages Cady to join the group and spy on them, so they can take down the group from within. Cady is to be the trojan horse.

The Plastics have a “Burn Book”, which is full of rumours and secrets about the other girls at school. It’s a mistake waiting to happen, really. Why leave a paper trail? The year is 2004. Go on MSN Messenger like everyone else.

Cady implements a bunch of successful sabotages, but along the way, Cady turns into a mean girl, herself. She has lost the plot and also, her only true friends – Janis and Damian.

Regina figures out that Cady is a saboteur and, being the quick whippersnapper that she is, photocopies the contents of the Burn Book and spreads it around school. Before you know it, the hallways are in a riot. Friends become enemies. Hands become fists. Girls become…mean(er)?

Regina had the presence of mind to insert a fake rumour about herself, thus pinning ownership of the book on Cady, Gretchen, and Karen, as they were the only girls not mentioned.

If we’re just analyzing the plan, it was brilliant.

All of the junior girls are called to the gym for an impromptu Workshop of Kindness & Forgiveness (I made up this title), lead by Teacher Tina Fey. It initially works, as apologies are given – even by those who don’t attend the school.

But when it’s Janis’ turn to speak, she doesn’t hold back and confesses to the plan that her and Cady concocted to take down the Plastics. Regina runs out of the school and gets hit by a bus. It breaks her spine.

Cady joins the Mathletes; they win the championship.

The movie ends with a new crop of Junior Plastics walking around as if they own the place, thus continuing a detrimental high school culture that will surely make students uncomfortable for years to come.

Goodbye, Africa. Hello, High School.”

Cady’s first taste of a school setting comes in her junior year of high school. Talk about diving into the deep end. On her first day, she almost got hit by a bus, which I guess was foreshadowing Regina getting hit near the end of the movie.

Putting literary devices aside for a second – how reckless were those bus drivers? They were just zooming by, with no regard for reduced speeds in a school zone. Who did they think they were? A 17-year-old in the student parking lot?

I hate seeing people speed in a school zone.

Anyway, Cady was met by a mob of students hanging out in front of the school and it brought back memories of kids lingering in the front lobby at my school every morning. It was extremely annoying.

You enter the school and are immediately met by loud, booming voices and small cracks to squeeze by. Once you conquer Level One, you head for a staircase where people are sitting, or leaning over the railing. No one moves. It’s a maze.

Finally, you reach your locker and the Final Boss is there. One last crowd, blocking your way.

It’s three stages of hell, really.

The first thing you realize when you get to university is that everyone knows how to walk and stay out of the way. They should put that in a pamphlet.

The Lunch Room

Cady had no one to sit with at lunch on her first day of school because she didn’t have any friends. She ate her lunch in a bathroom stall, instead.

I’ve said it before: the older you get, the fewer people you eat lunch with.

When you’re in school, you always need someone to sit with. It feels weird sitting by yourself. But as you get older, sitting at a table for one isn’t anything to be ashamed of because you’re there for the food – not human interaction.

The Plastics

Who doesn’t like a good heel faction, right?

Regina is clearly the backbone of the entire operation. If she could convince her parents to swap bedrooms with her, then she could make a bunch of high school girls wish they were her.

Gretchen is basically the Mickie James to Regina’s Trish Stratus, before she turned on Stratus. I’m referencing a wrestling feud from 2006, if you didn’t know. Gretchen is an extremely loyal friend, but has her moments where it’s clear that she doesn’t really like Regina.

You get the sense that Gretchen could break off from the group, be the leader of her own faction, and no one would question it.

If anyone is keeping track, Gretchen Wieners is my favourite member of the group. Just putting that in print.

Karen doesn’t know what she’s doing or why she’s laughing. She’s a perfect third member.

Looking back, they didn’t really need a fourth member. Bringing in Cady disrupted the hierarchy and left them vulnerable to a trojan horse and a subsequent hostile takeover.

They did this to themselves, really.

Just think, if Regina, Gretchen, and Karen hadn’t all been sitting on the same side of the table – who does that? – that day in the cafeteria, maybe they don’t invite Cady to sit with them. Maybe they don’t even notice her.

Despite being “mean girls” and creating a bunch of arbitrary rules to live by, it seemed like a lot of the other girls in the school looked up to them and wanted to be like them.

As a guy watching this, I couldn’t relate to that feeling. I didn’t want to dress, act, or speak like the supposed “popular kids”. Maybe that’s just me and who I am, and it varies for others. I really don’t know.

I feel like there’s a bigger discussion to be had here relating to girls in high school and “fitting in”, but I’m not the person to lead that discussion. So, if you have thoughts on it, let me know in the comments below.

The Burn Book

I’m only just remembering that kids used to say, “Oh! Burn!” whenever someone was spewing insults back in the early 2000s. I don’t know what I thought it meant while watching, but now it makes complete sense.

As I said in the synopsis, keeping a paper trail of insults was extremely negligent. Not only that, having a book in the first place is just immature.

Principal Duuuvall

Sorry, I was channelling my inner Jacksonville for a second.

I was wondering what kind of movie this was going to be and then I quickly found out when one of the first school scenes was Principal Duvall walking in on Teacher Tina Fey, while she had her shirt above her head. He went on to tell her about his carpal tunnel and she told him about her divorce.

Principal Duvall clearly had a crush on her.

Anyway, as soon as I saw the actor – Tim Meadows – I remembered him from The Even Stevens Movie as Miles McDermott. In that movie, Miles was basically a conman television host.

So, because of that, I never trusted him in Mean Girls. I always felt like he had an ulterior motive, especially when he had conversations with Teacher Tina Fey.

This is how my mind works. Don’t question it.

Cady is Queen

I’m not really sure how Cady was elected Queen at the Spring Fling dance if the school didn’t like her? Was there a silent majority present with a “Cady is my Queen” t-shirt under their dress shirts?

Perhaps.

Cady got up on stage and gave a speech about how she was sorry and that everyone is wonderful in their own way. That was cool.

But then she broke off pieces of the plastic tiara and handed them out to people as a sign of…unity? A peace offering?

I won’t lie, I thought it was a bit lame.

Moreover, did she really think that a group of girls who had been insulted and humiliated by a clique called The Plastics, really wanted to go home with a PLASTIC keepsake?

Talk about rubbing salt in the wound, but looking away while doing it.

Is it a symbol of unity and acceptance, or is it a symbol of high school trauma that will sit on their shelf and haunt them for years to come? I don’t think Cady thought this one through. If she had, she would’ve spent all night making friendship bracelets out of yarn because they weren’t called the YARNASTICS.

I’m just saying.

A High School Party

You know how it goes in these movies and television shows with high school parties.

Parents out of town. Friday night. Kid wants to be cool and accepted. They host a party. It’s crazier than they thought it would be. They find people in bedrooms. There’s a bowl of fruit punch. People show up that they don’t know. The person they were hoping to see is nowhere to be found. The music is damaging their eardrums. It gets out of hand.

You know the drill. I just described about 38 different movies and shows.

I just want to know, does that happen in real life? Maybe it’s a pre-2000s thing? Or am I just out to lunch?

Is that what high school parties were?

The Quotes

Just about every scene was memorable and included a line that you won’t forget. It’s such a good formula. No one could ever forget this movie because of how many moments stand out.

Even if Twitter wasn’t a thing and we weren’t using Mean Girl GIFs, the quotes are top-of-mind.

I would think that comedy movies that came after this stole their script-writing formula. Build the story around great one-liners. You just have to make sure the jokes land. If they don’t land, they’ll hover like a swarm of flies in the summer. No one likes that.

Let’s run through some of the standout quotes because that’s what you came here for, isn’t it?

“She doesn’t even go here!” – Damian

This line was all in the delivery. It was perfect. I like that we can laugh about a girl sneaking into a school she doesn’t attend because in real life, that would be kind of terrifying.

“Oh my God, Danny DeVito, I love your work!” – Damian

I laughed harder for this line than any other line, or moment, in the movie. This killed me. I rewound and watched it multiple times. I’m laughing as I’m writing this. Pure brilliance.

“Four for you Glenn Coco! You go, Glenn Coco!” – Damian

Again, all in the delivery. Also helped that “go” and “Coco” rhymed. I’m overanalyzing this now. It was a fun moment.

This line was said while “Santa” was handing out candy grams to students. Upon seeing that, I immediately wondered if this movie had created the concept of candy grams and if schools stole it after the movie came out.

This is the downside of watching a 2004 film in 2021. I don’t know what had a cultural impact and what already existed.

“That is so fetch!” – Gretchen

I still don’t know what this means, but I’ll support it.

“Get in loser, we’re going shopping.” – Regina

I can only imagine how many girls have said this to their friends.

“On October 3rd, he asked me what day it was. It’s October 3rd.” – Cady

If I didn’t know how popular this quote was, or that it turned October 3rd into Mean Girls Day, I probably would’ve forgotten it was even in the movie.

It was a scene that was in the middle of a montage and was less than four seconds, you realize that, right?

“You can’t sit with us!” – Gretchen

A stickler for the arbitrary rules, that Gretchen Wieners!

Lines like that make me wonder how many kids heard that line in a cafeteria and had to go sit by themselves. Heck, most of this movie made me wonder how many people adopted the personality of the “mean girls” and bullied others, as a result.

“On Wednesdays, we wear pink!” – Karen

Such a good line. Don’t know if I’ve ever worn pink. I’m more of a purple guy.

Did girls follow the Plastics dress code in real life? The whole thing about tank tops, vest, jeans, sweatpants, and ponytails? I lost track.

“I have a fifth sense.” – Karen

Karen’s character was a perfect compliment for the rest of the cast.

“I can’t go out. I’m sick. (Fake cough).” – Karen

Who among us hasn’t fake coughed at some point in our lives?

“I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy.” – The Girl That Doesn’t Even Go Here

Well, maybe if she stopped at home before invading a school she didn’t go to, she could’ve baked that cake!

Nah, I’m being too harsh. It was a nice thought.

“Gretchen, Iā€™m sorry I laughed at you that time you got diarrhea at Barnes & Noble. And Iā€™m sorry for telling everyone about it. And Iā€™m sorry for repeating it now.” – Karen

Outside of the Danny DeVito line, this one made me laugh the hardest. I already knew about it going into the movie, but it’s just so good.

As I’m writing these quotes, Karen is really growing on me. Not enough to overtake Gretchen in the Plastics Power Rankings, though.

“I’m a mouse, duh.” – Karen

Halloween costumes. You all can discuss them.

“The limit does not exist!” – Cady

Never has a math term been so exciting.

Final Verdict

Okay, so it’s a movie from 2004, which means it contains elements that are so obviously offensive yet, somehow, acceptable at the time. What a shame. This movie is not devoid of problems – you can Google the articles about them for a more thorough look.

There were racist jokes that were never funny, as well stereotypes that were enforced – looking at you, lunch scene.

Regina’s character used the R-word a bunch of times and I was uncomfortable every time.

I recognize that the movie is based on “mean girls” and outlining the high school experience of teenage girls. It was eye-opening. It made me understand things in a different light.

At the same time, I couldn’t help but worry that some of the “mean behaviour” from this movie would be mimicked by adolescents who thought that it was okay, or cool.

I’m not a father, but I feel like I said that as if I’m a concerned father.

I’ve worked with children before and have seen how impressionable they are, and how quick they are to mimic someone else. Certain behaviours in this movie made me worried that they’d be applied in school and used to make a student feel less-than, or unwelcome.

That being said, I am aware that one source of media isn’t the root of all that is evil. So, don’t come at me – I’m just a concerned non-father. Let me live.

Problems aside, I will say that I really enjoyed the movie and thought it was funny!

There were so many memorable scenes and moments, as well as quotes that people will still be saying 50 years from now. I’m sure multiple people have already named their child, Glenn Coco.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a girl in high school. It’s not my place to sit here and preach, “girls shouldn’t treat each other like that!”, so I won’t.

I am glad I finally watched Mean Girls. I feel like I am fully in on the jokes now, so that feels nice.

There are parts of this movie I problem forgot to talk about, so if you’re curious about my thoughts on something, just ask.

If you read all of this, thank you!

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

What are your thoughts on Mean Girls? How old were you when you first saw it? What affect did the movie have on you? Can you view your high school experience through the lens of this movie?

What was your favourite line? Who is your favourite mean girl? Do you wear pink on Wednesdays?

Anything else you’d like to share?

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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21 Responses to First Time Watching: Mean Girls

  1. You make me want to see the movie. šŸ˜€ Have you seen Cruel Intensions? You must. šŸ˜³

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh I love this movie!!! Its basically the reality of high school! I knew that mean girl “Regina George” type person. And then everyone just wanted to be her friend/in her group. And unfortunately, the back stabbing and the like is soooo real. At least in my female experience šŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. While I have seen Mean Girls, I am happy I am not the only one who hasn’t seen every “classic” or “staple” pop culture movie! I am glad you’re happy you finally watched it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Finally, someone else who hasn’t seen the movies that everyone else has already seen hundreds of times! Thought I was the only one out here haha

      Like

  4. Sabrina B says:

    So you know my answer to some of those questions already because I told you them when you told me you were watching this movie lol but here’s something I didn’t tell you: this movie was actually inspired, in part, by a non fiction self help book called “Queen Bees and Wannabes” that was released in 2002 which described high school cliques and patterns of aggressive teenage girl behaviour. Tina Fey wrote the script inspired by that book as well as some of her own high school experiences, although obviously a lot was exaggerated for comedic and dramatic effect. So basically: mean girls didn’t have to be inspired to act like that.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve used a good half of these quotes in every day life haha. They’re so so memorable! I also own a crop top that says ” you can’t sit with us.” Have definitely said to friends and heard “get in loser, we’re going shopping.” Only ever with friends who get it, of course.

    The fashion rules aren’t real, it was more to emphasize the sense of unity within the group but also of conformity and of the “right” way to be cool or popular or a girl. Like, you can be with us and have a friendship group and belong, but under these conditions. Which is a legit feeling but generally less literally spelled out lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      It was classified as a self-help book? That is perfect. Good point about them not needing to be inspired. I just don’t want kids getting any fresh ideas lol

      This franchise probably made so much money off merchandise. Probably still do.

      The fashion rules aren’t real??? What do you mean?? I feel lied to.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sabrina B says:

        There’s been various mean girls dolls!! so there’s some merchandise. AND Regina’s “a little bit dramatic” t-shirt is still in high demand, thats basically her most iconic outfit from the movie.

        Alas, on wednesdays we do not wear pink. Well sometimes. Not all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Ohhh I think I misinterpreted what you were saying….no, I didn’t expect the fashion rules to be real in real life lol. I thought you were saying they weren’t real in the movie and were just an…I don’t even know. Brain is scrambled.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sabrina B says:

        Hahahaha just one of those days when the brain is fried, it happens

        Liked by 1 person

  5. peckapalooza says:

    I kind of love this movie and, if I were in charge of curriculum in a middle and/or high school, I would make Mean Girls required viewing. Mostly because, I’ve always felt that at the heart of it there’s a message that people should accept each other and not treat each other like they’re beneath them so much. Also, Carrie would be required viewing. Cautionary tale that warns against the dangers of bullying if ever there was one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I would completely support this curriculum. Both movies would prepare them for social situations they don’t even know they’re going to be in. I watched Carrie at school in Grade 11. It was not presented as a cautionary tale lol

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Becky says:

    Ah I’m so glad you were finally able to write this post! šŸ˜… You feeling like a functioning member of society after watching Mean Girls is like how I was last year after reading Harry Potter. Welcome to society.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. rebbit7 says:

    Mean Girls came out when I was 11, so I wasn’t the target demographic for the film…plus, I believe I was too young to really understand what was going on, as I wasn’t in high school yet. But I did rewatch it a couple of years back, and man oh man did I not realize how hilarious it was! “You go, Glen Coco” gets me every time. But you totally forgot the “I’m from Michigan” quote at the start of the film. Or Karen saying, “If you’re from Africa, why are you white?” Those get me every time! Welcome to the Mean Girls club, Paul!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for the welcome! The movie came out the year before I started high school and I feel like if I had seen it at the time, it would’ve been a good crash course lesson. I don’t even know if I knew the movie existed back then though so ha. So many good, quotes. I’d have to watch again to pick up on more.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. cd says:

    Honestly I am surprised & in awe of how long you went without watching this movie. I feel like the world should make slightly more sense, and when in doubt, always quote mean girls

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I have a better understanding of why some people act the way they do lol. The first scene that included the Burn Book felt very familiar to me so maybe I had seen the movie at some point but I don’t know when or where. Or maybe it was just a YouTube clip.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: The week gone by ā€” May 16 – A Silly Place

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