Why ‘Mean Girls’ Is More Important Than Ever Before, 15 Years Later
Maybe 'fetch' finally happened...
15 years later and we’re still trying to make ‘Fetch’ happen.
It’s hard to believe but this month marks 15 years since one of the most influential, meme-able and iconic teen movies was released into the world to take on a life of its own. Yes, we’re talking about Mean Girls.
Starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried, to name just a few, the seminal classic has avoided becoming a forgotten gem and instead remained a cultural reference point that seems to only become more relevant as the years go on.
Sure, the mid-‘00s fashion is enjoying a comeback right now. Yes, the soundtrack is back-to-front bops. Of course, it’s nice to revisit Lindsay in her acting prime. Although, the real reason the film still resonates with so many is because of how it speaks to teenagers and deals with the oft-harsh realities of growing up in high school.
Those pivotal years when you feel super worldly and independent, while actually navigating the awkwardness of many ‘firsts’ and worryingly concerned about being seen as cool by your peers. Watching Cady Heron transform herself from a wholesome nice girl next door to a bitchy, narcissistic, lip gloss Queen Bee in a desperate bid for popularity that ends in disaster - while a little exaggerated - is something we’ve all seen before.
What the film says about honest friendships, staying true to yourself, self-love and the importance of kindness above all else will read entirely different to those first watching the film in the age of Facetune and Instagram Stories. High school politics is a battlefield difficult for anyone to conquer, never mind today when unattainable perfection is drilled into you every time you reach into your pocket.
The ultimate takeaway of celebrating individualism and one another without competing for fleeting romances or meaningless titles - “it’s just plastic!” - is the reason that Ariana Grande chose to pay homage to it in her ‘thank u, next’ video after all. Feel-good teen movies and rom-coms have declined significantly since Mean Girls first came out, which also may explain why it still attracts such a huge following with its timeless appeal.
Beyond its themes of empowerment and overcoming judgment, Mean Girls is also rather significant for its diversity. Not in a movie studio-ticking-boxes way either, the movie plays on age-old stereotypes of different groups to pick them apart, mock them, and even celebrate them when the shoe fit. After all, stereotypes aren’t a bad thing if you don’t want them to be, so why shouldn’t Damian sing Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’ during the school talent show?
From Damian and Kevin to the iconic canteen scene that introduces all of the different groups by their very generalised clique names (“Asian nerds, cool Asians…”), it avoided being another typically whitewashed Hollywood teen movie and was a true reflection of real schools.
That’s the thing, though: Mean Girls wasn’t just another teen movie. It’s unafraid to talk about sex, be bitchy and - most importantly - while making fun of teens it also portrays their dramas and dilemmas as completely legitimate to never downplay how a Halloween costume fail can feel like the end of the world. For these reasons, it’s a nostalgic treasure that will ring true for generations to come, and remind the rest of us of the ridiculous days of high school fondly with the comfort of knowing it’s all behind us.
Oh and, how could we forget, Regina’s mom. She’s a cool mom.