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Rewind: Why Did “Mean Girls” Become Such a Cult Classic?

by Makenzi Wood / November 14, 2021

I can’t tell you how many times my friends have shouted, “SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE” at school, in bars, and even at work. Whether you’re “not a regular mom” or your “hair is so big because it’s full of secrets,” there’s a Mean Girls quote for just about anything. 

Mean Girls came out in 2004 and it was a surprise box office hit, raking in $24.4 million on its opening weekend alone. 

My fellow ’80s and ’90s kids will get this: How weird is it to look back on early 2000s movies and call them “classics”? But Mean Girls is just that: a classic. Like Legally Blonde, Bring It On, and American Pie, there’s something iconic about Mean Girls.


So, why is Mean Girls still so fetch, 15 years later? In my humble opinion, it boils down to these five things. 

1. The casting is top-notch.

Did you know that Lindsay Lohan actually wanted to play Regina George? That would have been good, but if I’m honest, only Rachel McAdams could have played the queen bee so flawlessly. 

And the same holds true for Janis, Damian, Gretchen — all of the iconic characters in Mean Girls were so good because the casting was spot-on. Nobody but Daniel Franzese could have pulled off that purple hoodie/sunglasses combo and you know it. 


2. It’s written really well.

Tina Fey played Cady’s teacher in Mean Girls, but she also wrote the script! I adore Tina Fey, and I think her awesome writing is one of the many reasons why this movie has so much staying power. 

To this day, it’s unbelievably quotable. Sure, they’re using landlines and flip phones in the movie, but the script still holds up today because it’s relatable. If you haven’t had a health teacher tell you, “Don’t have sex. You’ll get pregnant and die,” did you even take health class??


3. Mean Girls is a dark comedy.

Teen comedies of the late 1990s and early 2000s were a little too flouncy and light for my taste. Mean Girls is definitely a comedy, but it’s got a dark edge to it that was unique for movies at the time. 

It reminded us that bullies don’t beat you up and take your lunch money anymore. They just tell the entire school you aren’t a virgin because you use super-jumbo tampons. From body image issues to being a social outcast, there are some very real, painful experiences from Mean Girls that most of us can relate to.


4. It’s based on real teen experiences.

Yeah, a lot of Mean Girls is dramatized to be funny, but the heart of the movie actually comes from a real place. Tina Fey based the script on a 2002 book titled “Queen Bees and Wannabees.”

This was a self-help book written for parents of teen daughters. While I’m sure it doesn’t dive into the complexities of your friends telling you “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!”, it has real-world interviews with teens that Fey used to write Mean Girls


5. Mean Girls isn’t actually a rom-com.

Look, I love me a good rom-com, but in the early 2000s, they were everywhere. Mean Girls is a classic because it turns the rom-com script on its head. Sure, Cady wants to get the guy in the beginning, but that’s not what the movie is about at all. 

At its core, Mean Girls is a coming-of-age story about being a good person in spite of social pressure. Get a taste of some 2004 nostalgia by giving this cult-classic another watch-through — and don’t forget to shout out your favorite quotes!


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