A relatively new Netflix streaming subscription allows me to catch up on things like Mean Girls.
In some ways I felt like I’d seen Mean Girls. I’d certainly seen clips of it in numerous places. And the 2004 comedy is eminently quotable (“Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen!”). It was almost a surprise to realize I’d never sat down and watched it from beginning to end.
Mean Girls has aged well. While not drenched in our modern technology and social media world, it still managed to feel current. A lot of that credit goes to Tina Fey’s script. While it flirted with a few then-current trends, that was window dressing. The core of the movie, the destructive ways that teenage girls can interact with one another, is fairly timeless.
Indeed, the themes of Mean Girls seem to have only become more relevant in the decade or so since it first was released. Social media has shone a klieg light on the brutal ways that teenagers interact. While the temptation to sweep all bad behavior into the “bullying” category can sometimes oversimplify complex social phenomena and interactions, there’s been an admirable increase in the willingness to explore and take seriously the impact of emotional warfare among teen peers.
Perhaps that’s one thing that makes Mean Girls relatable. Most people who watch the movie likely will be able to relate some aspect of the action back to their own teen experiences. The sort of emotional timelessness that Fey infused into her script is a clear strength of her gifts as a writer.
It’s shocking to be reminded of a time when Lindsay Lohan was viewed as a talented budding star and not a tabloid punchline. And Lohan was great in Mean Girls. She effectively embodied a complex teen, someone as capable of loving math and individual expression as she was of being sucked into the shallow orbit of her school’s magnetic queen bee. Mean Girls is exhibit 1 of why writing Lohan off altogether would be a waste and why rooting for her to achieve an actual comeback isn’t a fool’s errand.
Also impressive is how well so many other Mean Girls cast members have done in the years since its release. The movie was a crucial step to stardom for Fey, then mostly known as a writer and cast member of Saturday Night Live (SNL honcho Lorne Michaels was a producer here, too). As a writer and key supporting actress, Mean Girls really helped launch Fey, who went on to greater fame as the star/creator/writer of the Emmy-beloved 30 Rock and to a successful movie career.
Fey’s SNL co-star Amy Poehler, seen in a small supporting role in Mean Girls, also went on to an acclaimed TV comedy (Parks and Recreation) and several movie hits. Then-emerging actresses Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried broke out into major movie careers. Lizzy Caplan amassed an intriguing list of TV and film credits before earning an Emmy nomination for her daring star turn in Masters of Sex. It’s a pretty strong legacy.
For both its generous laughs and genuine heart, Mean Girls endures rather well. If you’ve never seen it, give it a shot. And if you have seen it, it’s worth seeing again.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on March 27, 2015.