"Mean Girls" was released 10 years ago
Tina Fey says she drew on personal experiences
Amanda Seyfried has called it her "best work"
How many of you have felt victimized by a Regina George?
If you raised your hand, you can attest that even a decade later “Mean Girls” still holds up.
Whether it’s because Tina Fey’s script so authentically captures the high school experience or because of the multiple quote-worthy lines (admit it, you are glad “fetch” happened), the film about a group of teen girls who rule the school and the girl they sort of take under their wing is as popular now as it ever was.
“For the high-school genre, Fey’s hilarious script was unusually astute and provocative,” the Guardian said of the film in 2013. “Replicating teen doublespeak with brilliant authenticity, the dialogue was full of zingers, accounting for its continued life online.”
April 30 marks the 10-year anniversary of the now cult classic. Not only can the 2004 movie be seen in heavy rotation on cable stations, but thanks to Netflix anyone can enjoy the adventures of “the Plastics.” Social media has also fully embraced it with Tumblrs and trending hashtags devoted to the characters and their snappy dialogue.
Before gay rights were even being fully embraced, the movie offered up the loveable character of Damian, who was “too gay to function” and partial to singing Christina Aguilera’s songs in the school talent show. And for those who have witnessed the train wreck that has become the life and career of “Mean Girls” star Lindsay Lohan, it also serves as a bittersweet time capsule of the days when she was billed as one of the most promising young actresses of her generation.
Based on the 2002 nonfiction book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” by Rosalind Wiseman, actress and screenwriter Fey was able to find the funny in what is often the victimization of young women in school.
In the film, Cady Heron is a 16-year-old daughter of zoologist parents who moves from Africa to the United States and is enrolled in public school after having been home schooled. She quickly catches the attention of the Plastics, a clique of girls who indoctrinate her into their ways, including rules about what days to wear pink and the fact that “ex-boyfriends are off-limits to friends. That’s just, like, the rules of feminism.”
What follows is a war of manipulation, lies and revenge. Fey told The New York Times that it was all quite familiar.
“I revisited high school behaviors of my own — futile, poisonous, bitter behaviors that served no purpose,” Fey said. “That thing of someone saying ‘You’re really pretty’ and then, when the other person thanks them, saying, ‘Oh, so you agree? You think you’re pretty?’ That happened in my school. That was a bear trap.”
In fact, “Mean Girls” has become a sort of cultural shorthand for Machiavellian-type machinations – as well as a favored pop culture reference. During the 2013 government shutdown, the “Mean Girls of Capitol Hill” Tumblr blog grew in popularity, and when Jennifer Lawrence won a 2013 People’s Choice Award, she said “I wish this was like ‘Mean Girls’ and I could just break this (award) up and throw it at all of you because you’re all responsible.”
The movie grossed just over $129 million worldwide and helped cement the career of Lohan and launch others, including Amanda Seyfried, who told the Los Angeles Times it was her “best work.”
“I look back and I’m like, ‘Really, I thought I was doing a terrible job,” Seyfried said. “But it was written so well and so wonderfully directed. (Director) Mark Waters made me look good; he made me funny. And Tina Fey wrote the coolest script of all time. I’m so grateful for every experience.”
The film is still so popular that news that a musical is in the works has been greeted with panting anticipation from diehard fans. In October 2013 (and no, not on October 3, the date that has significant meaning to Cady in the film), Fey’s husband, composer Jeff Richmond – who is scoring the musical – told Vulture that progress was being made in developing it.
So, while you wait, and in honor of “Mean Girls,” grab your Burn Book or whatever you use to trash people (around here we call it “the comments section”), sit back and maybe revisit the movie. Do it for Glen Coco.