Does Mean Girls Still Hold Up in Modern Cinema?

Mean Girls has always been a cultural milestone, but it is back in the spotlight with the release of its musical remake. However, no matter how many times Mean Girls gets remade, the 2004 movie will always be the original and also extremely relevant. Many teen movies, especially from the early 2000s, have aged poorly, but Mean Girls largely holds up.



Tina Fey’s sharp writing was ahead of its time, contributing to Mean Girls‘s continued relevance today. Subversive humor, a great message, and groundbreaking scenes were only a few of the elements that Mean Girls got right. Mean Girls (2004) can go toe-to-toe with Mean Girls (2024) any day.


10 Mean Girls Is a Movie for the Girls

  • Mean Girls was Tina Fey’s feature film screenwriting debut.

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Even though Mean Girls was an iconic 2000s movie, it was more in line with the cinematic mood and tone of the 2020s. With movies like American Pie being produced at the time, movie misogyny was at an all-time high. In the midst of this, Mean Girls was a breath of fresh air because it was meant for women and in favor of women.

Like Barbie and Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, Tina Fey’s Mean Girls wanted to make young women feel seen, heard, and appreciated. The movie didn’t make light of the female school and social experience. It instead highlighted and rejoiced in every facet of girlhood — the good and bad.

9 Mean Girls Shines a Light on the Gravity of Bullying

  • Lindsay Lohan was originally cast as Regina George before she opted to play Cady, who was a “nice girl” character.

One of the bigger themes in Mean Girls was bullying. Regina George was the quintessential movie mean girl, but her torment of the students at North Shore High School went to another level. Add a Burn Book with the nastiest comments, and Regina ruled the school.

While many schools ignore instances of bullying, the fictitious high school in Mean Girls had sensitive teachers.

Ms. Norbury took the decision to confront Regina about her bullying and made sure she realized how much she had traumatized other kids. Mean Girls managed to expertly tackle an issue that is skirted around in real life.

8 The Humor in Mean Girls Is Top-Notch

Amy Poehler as June George in Mean Girls

  • Amy Poehler, who played Mrs. George, is only seven years older than Rachel McAdams.

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Along with being a teen movie, Mean Girls is, first and foremost, a comedy. The popularity of the movie is largely because of the wit and humor present in the script. From comparing Girl World to the Animal World in an exaggerated physical comedy scene to classic one-liners, Mean Girls had it all.

Mean Girls also used subversive humor to prove some of its points, leaning into stereotypes like that of the cool mom very cleverly. Even the smallest quips of Mean Girls (read: fetch) remain fresh as ever two decades later.

7 Regina’s Redemption From Mean to Nice Will Always Be in Fashion

Regina George in Mean Girls

  • Tina Fey came up with the term “fetch” (short for “fetching”) because she did not want to use an expression teens actually use so it wouldn’t become outdated later.

Mean Girls holds up today because it implemented teen tropes that actually work. While Regina’s awful behavior was entertaining and even inspired the movie title, it was her redemption that provided the emotional payoff to the story. After the Burn Book chaos and getting hit by a bus, Regina became more modest.

Regina attempted to make amends with her classmates by being nice to them and channeled her inner rage into lacrosse, putting the opposing team in danger. It was great to see a young woman find her way after being on a power trip for so long and that she wasn’t painted as a permanently evil character who couldn’t find the light.

6 Mean Girls Encapsulated Important Parts of the High School Experience

  • Mean Girls was initially Rated R but got a lenient rating when some risque jokes were cut.

While some elements might have been exaggerated, Mean Girls did a decent job of capturing a snapshot of high school life. Social cliques, teens exploring their sexuality, talent shows, sports, parties, friendships, and crushes — anyone who has been to high school would recognize and relate to some part of the movie.

For better or for worse, these experiences remain similar in today’s day and age, which is why this teen movie has aged so well. It was even better that Mean Girls ended on a hopeful note — that everything gets better. It gave young viewers something to hold on to, then and now.

5 The Dialogue in Mean Girls Is Endlessly Quotable

Karen Smith from Mean Girls points at her mouse ears.

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Mean Girls added perspective to teen comedies by including commentary from the adults witnessing the hilariously unhinged behavior at the school.

When one thinks of Mean Girls, the first thing that comes to mind is the sparkling, hilarious dialogue that has become a part of the pop culture lexicon forever. Lines like, “You can’t sit with us!” and “She doesn’t even go here!” are used regularly across social media and colloquialisms today, proving the longevity of Mean Girls.

Wednesdays and the color pink will always be connected because of the movie, and October 3rd will stay imprinted in the minds of generations to come. Tina Fey’s dialogue is evergreen and will perhaps be the same a decade from now.

4 Mean Girls Encourages Girls To Be Smart and Authentic

Cady in Mean Girls

  • James Franco was first considered for the role of Aaron Samuels.

Underneath the sparkle, pink, and schemes, Mean Girls carries an important message. While the Plastics are seen pinching and poking themselves, trying to stay skinny and please society, the last conflict shows that everyone in the school felt this way. Cady dumbed herself down to get Aaron’s attention, reinforcing the misconception that no one likes a smart girl.

However, Cady finds true peace and victory when she starts displaying her talents and winning accolades. Even Aaron appreciated her more for being true to herself, but more importantly, the movie encouraged young girls to shine bright and take up space in the world.

3 Mean Girls’s Musical Moments Are Still Thrilling

  • Mean Girls was the first non-Disney movie Lindsay Lohan starred in.

In addition to the impeccable dialogue, Mean Girls went a step ahead and included some seriously memorable musical moments as well. The North Shore Talent Show included performances both good and bad, but the Plastics’ rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” can never be forgotten. From the infamous thigh slap to Cady’s impromptu singing, everything about this moment was perfect.

Even Kevin G’s mathematical rap was unique yet hilarious, proving that Mean Girls can, quite literally, do it all. The Plastics and the math nerds could both be rockstars.

2 Mean Girls Expertly Takes Apart Social Hierarchies

Gretchen, Regina, Cady, and Karen in Mean Girls

  • Cady’s first name was inspired by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a 19th-century pioneer in the American Women’s Rights movement.

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By leaning into high school cliques, Mean Girls managed to dismantle these hierarchies effortlessly. Kevin G was a mathlete who could rap, and Regina George became the Queen Bee who turned into a jock, where she could expend her energy better. Cady was able to go from being a new girl to being the leader of the Plastics in just a few short weeks.

High school is a time when people feel slotted and typecast, and Mean Girls made it clear that these labels were temporary and meant nothing. This is a message that will always be relevant.

1 Tina Fey’s Feminism Shines Through in Mean Girls

Tina Fey as Ms. Norbury in Mean Girls

  • Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (Mrs. George) did not share any dialogue, but they are best friends in real life.

At first glance, Mean Girls only reinforces sexist stereotypes, but the movie is actually rooted in feminism. Regina, Cady, Gretchen, and Karen enjoy tearing each other and other women down, but there are sparkling moments of feminism that redeem the movie. Tina Fey’s character, Ms. Norbury, is a positive adult influence on the students who constantly reminds them to stop calling themselves “sluts and whores” because it only encourages men to do the same.

Even Regina was seen defending Cady from a skeevy classmate in their first interaction together. Cady’s devolution to Plastic and then re-evolution into a math nerd encouraged girls to be smart, sassy, and authentic for their own sake. Mean Girls ultimately used all the jokes and pigeonholing to push the feminist school of thought.

Mean Girls Film Poster

Mean Girls (2004)

Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George.

Release Date
April 30, 2004

Director
Mark Waters

Cast
Lindsay Lohan , Jonathan Bennett , Rachel McAdams , Tina Fey

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
97 minutes

Main Genre
Comedy

Genres
Comedy

Writers
Rosalind Wiseman , Tina Fey

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