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‘Mean Girls’: What’s New in Girl World and What’s Out

‘Mean Girls’: What’s New in Girl World and What’s Out
07 May
8:08

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Some things have changed since Tina Fey wrote the beloved movie, now a Broadway musical. But on Wednesdays, the Plastics still wear pink.

May 7, 2018
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Erika Henningsen as Cady, second from left, with the Plastics, played by Ashley Park, Taylor Louderman and Kate Rockwell. They’re shiny, fake and hard.CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Get in, loser. We’re about to relive the hellish days of high school through the eyes of our favorite queen bees and wannabes.

“Mean Girls” — the 2004 film that starred Lindsay Lohan as Cady, a new student who tries to navigate the cliques of North Shore High — has become one of the most quotable films, generating endless GIFs and memes. Now that it’s on Broadway, you can sing some of the lines, too. The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, including best musical.

Here’s your guide to North Shore in 2018. Tina Fey’s adaptation for the musical (with music by Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin) deviates from the movie, but everything is still fetch.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Janis and Damian, played by Barrett Wilbert Weed and Grey Henson, become Cady’s friends and come up with a plan to destroy Regina.CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Then: Cady as narrator

In 2004, Ms. Lohan, then a cog in the Disney machine, was an “it” girl in Hollywood. Fans liked her because she seemed — to use a line from Ms. Fey’s book — “authentic but not in a fake way.”

Now: Janis and Damian as narrators

Being an outsider is in. Janis and Damian take on the part of storytellers, and audiences seemed to like Cady’s “art freak” friends in this role. Perhaps in 2018 we have less patience for a lead character who fails math to impress a boy.


Then: Regina calls Janis a lesbian

“Why are you so obsessed with me?” Regina, the queen bee of North Shore, asked of Janis in middle school, before spreading the rumor that her former best friend was a lesbian. This is why Janis wanted Cady to help her destroy Regina’s reputation.

Now: Regina calls Janis a ‘space dyke

The musical has plenty of girl-power messaging, but it still hinges on the premise that middle school gossip about sexual orientation would define the social dynamics in a progressive community (“Mean Girls” takes place in Evanston, Ill.). This might have been more plausible in 2004, when expressions of queer identities were less visible and socially acceptable.

Yet Regina and others call Janis a “space dyke.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Read our review of the musical

Cady gives Kälteen bars to Regina, telling her she has to eat carbs to activate them. Is butter a carb? In girl world, the answer is yes.CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Then: Toaster Strudel

Gretchen was described as being “totally rich” in the film because her father was the inventor of Toaster Strudel. Gretchen didn’t pass up the chance to tell Mr. Duvall, North Shore’s principal, that her father was behind the frozen pastry.

Now: Kälteen bars

Cady still supplies Regina with the fictional Swedish nutrition bars to sabotage her weight-loss goal. (Whatever, present-day Regina is getting cheese fries.)


Then: 1-3-5

Regina reserved her spring fling dress at 1-3-5, an allusion to the mall retailer 5-7-9, but she couldn’t zip it up. The saleswoman’s advice: “You could try Sears.”

Now: Athleisure

The spring fling dress fits just fine. But Regina does wear sweats in the school cafeteria, prompting Gretchen to screech, “You can’t sit with us!”


Then: Glen Coco

He was the boy who got four candy cane grams and spurred a thousand memes. But those memes spelled his name wrong.

Now: Glen Cocco

That’s right, Cocco’s name includes two C’s. It always has. But his name wasn’t in the film’s credits, so meme-makers guessed the spelling. They guessed wrong.

Ms. Norbury, the math teacher, tells Cady (above) she is a pusher. And Ms. Norbury gets punished for it.CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Then: The power of the three-way calling

Regina tricked Cady into trash-talking Gretchen while Gretchen was on the line. Cady tricked Regina into trash-talking Gretchen and Karen on a group call. All four used landline telephones.

Now: The power of social media

Who uses a landline? LED screens show posts related to what the girls say and do. The limit does not exist!


Then: Referencing ESPN

Karen told Cady: “I’m kind of psychic. I have a fifth sense. It’s like I have ESPN or something.” In 2004, many eyes were glued to ESPN.

Now: Referencing President Trump

In an era of #fakenews, many eyes are glued to Twitter. Regina jokes that President Trump has blocked her on the site.


The Plastics reading their Burn Book, which they had not looked at in forever.CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Then: The Burn Book burns Coach Carr

“Coach Carr, step away from the underage girls!” The same coach, who said, “Don’t have sex because you will get pregnant and die,” was accused of having inappropriate relationships with two students.

Now: The Burn Book burns Aaron Samuels

References to pedophilia are out in the age of #MeToo. The Burn Book does reveal that Cady’s crush, Aaron, uses a fake address to attend North Shore, so he’s expelled. He doesn’t even go there anymore!

The big questions, though, are why a Burn Book exists in 2018, and why Regina would photocopy its contents instead of posting pages on Instagram.


Then: Santa’s Little Helpers doing ‘Jingle Bell Rock’

The Plastics danced to the Christmas tune at the winter talent show. Gretchen accidentally kicked the portable CD player, causing the song to skip. Cady saved the day by leading a singalong.

Now: The Hot Elves doing ‘Rockin’ Around the Pole’

The change was a creative decision. And now a boombox doesn’t malfunction. (Do boomboxes, like, exist anymore?) Instead, Regina’s skirt pops off, and she is shamed on social media.

Aaron Samuels, played by Kyle Selig, eventually decides that Cady is grool.CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Then: Oct. 3

In the film, Aaron asked Cady what day it is. “It’s October Third,” she said.

Now: Oct. 3

In the musical, Aaron asks Cady what day it is. “It’s October Third,” she says.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article misstated the name of one of the characters in “Mean Girls.” His name is Damian, not Ian.

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