Raise your hand if you've ever been personally amused by Mean Girls. The 2004 classic comedy, written by Tina Fey, was a hit when it played in theaters but has since become one of the most highly memed and quoted movies of all time. We're still saying "fetch" after nearly 20 years, so in a way, it really did happen!
Now, Mean Girls is rising up Netflix's Top 10 movies list, after returning to the service on July 1 (it last left back in 2018). That it remains popular almost two decades after release is a testament to the Fey's smart and hilarious script, knockout performances by the cast and a sympathetic set-up (being the new kid in school).
Mean Girls also provocatively captures the bullying and body image issues that run rampant among teens, particularly girls. And it even has an early, analog form of toxic
Why Mean Girls is so quotable
One reason why Mean Girls is still so frequently quoted is that the situations are utterly relatable to this day.
Lindsay Lohan's protagonist, Cady Heron, is placed in the position of not just attending a new school, but attending one for the first time after being home-schooled on another continent all her life.
Everyone has had to navigate the awkwardness of a new social situation, whether it's at school, a workplace or a party. Then, add on the layer of being targeted as an outsider, something many of us have felt at one time or another. The line "You can't sit with us!" should maybe come with a trigger warning.
The specificity of Mean Girls quotes also makes them repeatable, even many years later. On Wednesdays, you can declare, "On Wednesdays we wear pink!" On October 3 every year, make 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 Toaster Strudel." Or reference either a psychic feeling or sports with the line, "It’s like I have ESPN or something." When you're having a bad hair day, explain that it's "so big. It’s full of secrets."
And if anything isn't going your way, just dismiss it like Regina George (Rachel McAdams): "Whatever, I'm getting cheese fries."
That's just the tip of the Mean Girls quote iceberg! Other classic lines like "She doesn’t even go here!" can be used in a multitude of situations. They can also be modified a bit to suit your particular needs, like I did at the beginning of this article with the original "Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by Regina George."
And then there's "fetch." Gretchen's quest to "make fetch happen" made it all the way to the White House. Regina, you were wrong!
Why are we still so obsessed with Mean Girls?
While Mean Girls got decent reviews when it came out in 2004 (it's Certified Fresh at 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), time has turned it into a genuine classic beloved across generations.
The New Yorker's Richard Brody compares it one of the all-time great films: Casablanca. "Mean Girls is certainly, deservedly, a classic, but it’s a classic along the lines of Casablanca, renowned for its performances and for its dialogue, for a seemingly wondrous synergy of all involved."
Priya Elan of The Guardian highlights the "real moments of societal commentary in the film and notes the "battle for 'social acceptance by any means necessary' is something that continues to be played out in real life, and duplicated in shows like Gossip Girl and The Real Housewives."
The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon writes, "There’s so much to be said about the clever writing, but another key ingredient to Mean Girls’ longevity is the stellar casting," adding, "It’s no surprise that McAdams and Seyfriend springboarded to megafame after Mean Girls. "
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