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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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, I’m sorry I laughed at you that time you got diarrhea at Barnes & Noble. And I’m sorry for telling everyone about it. And I’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.
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?