Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally entertained by Mean Girls. The 2004 comedy classic, written by Tina Fey, was a hit when it hit theaters, but has since gone on to become one of the most memorable and quoted films of all time. We’re still saying “go get” after nearly 20 years, so in a way, it really happened!
Now, Mean Girls is climbing up Netflix’s Top 10 Movies list, having returned to the service on July 1 (it last left in 2018). That it remains popular nearly two decades after its release is a testament to Fey’s clever and hilarious storyline, knockout performances from the cast, and likable setup (being the new kid on the block).
Mean Girls also provocatively captures the bullying and body image issues that plague teens, especially girls. And it even has an early analog form of toxicity
Why Mean Girls is so quoted
One of the reasons Mean Girls is still so frequently cited is that the situations are so relevant to this day.
Lindsay Lohan’s protagonist, Cady Heron, is placed not only in a new school, but also in a first after being home-schooled on another continent his entire life.
Everyone has had to navigate the awkwardness of a new social situation, whether at school, at work, or at a party. Then add the layer of being targeted as a stranger, something many of us have felt at one time or another. The line “You can’t sit with us!” should perhaps come with a trigger warning.
The specificity of the Mean Girls quotes also makes them reproducible, even many years later. On Wednesdays, you can say, “On Wednesdays we wear pink!” On October 3 every year, do like Cady and tell everyone, “It’s October 3” (aka Mean Girls Day).
You can joke about your father by calling him “the inventor of the Toaster Strudel”. Or reference a psychic feeling or a sport with the line, “It’s like I have ESPN or something.” When you’re having a bad day, explain that it’s “so big. It’s full of secrets.”
And if something doesn’t go your way, dismiss it like Regina George (Rachel McAdams): “Never mind, I’m having cheese fries.”
That’s just the tip of the iceberg of Mean Girls quotes! Other classic lines like “She doesn’t even go here!” can be used in a multitude of situations. They can also be slightly modified to suit your particular needs, as I did at the beginning of this article with the original “Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by Regina George”.
And then there is “fetch”. Gretchen’s quest to “make fetch” made it all the way to the White House (opens in a new tab). Regina, you were wrong!
Why are we still so obsessed with Mean Girls?
While Mean Girls received decent reviews when it was released in 2004 (it’s certified 84% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in a new tab)), time has made it a true classic appreciated from generation to generation.
Richard Brody of The New Yorker (opens in a new tab) compares it to one of the great films of all time: Casablanca. “Mean Girls is certainly and rightly a classic, but it’s a classic in the line of Casablanca, renowned for its performances and for its dialogue, for a seemingly wondrous synergy of all the actors.”
Priya Elan from The Guardian (opens in a new tab) highlights the “true moments of societal commentary in the film and notes that “the battle for ‘social acceptance by any means necessary’ is something that continues to play out in real life and duplicated in shows like Gossip Girl and The Real Housewives.
Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon (opens in a new tab) wrote, “There’s so much to be said for clever writing, but another key ingredient to Mean Girls’ longevity is the stellar cast,” adding, “It’s no surprise that McAdams and Seyfriend have ascended to the niche after Mean Girls.”
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