Classic vs. contemporary: The revival of Mean Girls

Image from IMDb.

Since its release in 2004, Mean Girls has become an essential film in teen culture. It not only entertained viewers but also perfected the “mean girl clique” trope, utilized in television even now. In 2018, the movie was adapted into a Broadway musical, which, although different from the original, developed its own fanbase and became a roaring success. On January 12, 2024, producers Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels released a film adaptation of the musical, which has sparked intense controversy among Mean Girls fans. Is it a failed attempt to revive a movie that already had its moment, or a well-executed twist on a beloved classic?

Many viewers agree that the remake is inferior to the original. Thaneesha Singh, a senior at Washington High School, says, “I think Cady’s story with her friends translated nicely into the present-day, but Regina George and the Plastics didn’t translate the same way. I can imagine a group of girls like that in high school in the 2000s, but I can’t imagine it now.” She relays that the lack of 2000s charm transformed the comedy into an unrealistic high school drama. In addition to the plot, many viewers found that the music didn’t live up to their expectations. Karina Sapkota, a stagehand in Washington High School’s theater productions, states that “many of the lyrical changes were unnecessary. Also, Aaron didn’t sing at all, Cady’s singing was underwhelming, and Karen and Gretchen’s verses in ‘Meet the Plastics’ were removed.” However, some viewers were able to enjoy parts of the film despite their disappointment. “At the very least, it was an entertaining movie and some of the songs were catchy,” says Cindy Ma.

Despite the movie’s flaws, most students agree that the actors and actresses were well-casted. “I really liked Renee Rapp as Regina. She was dominant and poised, which made for a great Regina George,” says Ma. “Especially considering Rapp’s role as Regina in the Broadway musical, she was a great fit.” Other actors, including those who played Karen, Gretchen, and Damian also embodied their characters’ personalities phenomenally. 

“Even though the cast was more diverse, they made sure the characters didn’t succumb to traditional stereotypes,” Singh adds. “For example, Karen is a dumb Indian girl, which we don’t see often in the media.” The movie also confirmed Janice’s identity as a lesbian, a change appreciated by members of the LGBTQ+ community.  Overall, Mean Girls left viewers greatly unsatisfied. According to Sapkota, “The remake was not worth it and felt like a cash grab. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t necessary.” The film fell victim to the classic pitfalls of remakes, straying from source material, failing to capture the essence of the original, and forcing modern trends. While the actors played their roles brilliantly, they were unable to prevent the movie from falling short of the fanbase’s expectations. Similarly, the musical alterations worsened the quality of the songs, leaving Broadway fans wanting more. Thus, despite being an entertaining film, perhaps Mean Girls was a classic that should have been left well enough alone.

Shruthi Subramaniyan is a senior at Washington High School. She was born and raised in Fremont, and this is her first year at The Hatchet. She’s interested in covering topics regarding the arts, culture, current events, and the Washington community. Her passions include art, music, teaching, and psychology. She also plays badminton on the school team and loves spending time outdoors with her friends. In the future, she hopes to attend university to study psychology and explore potential careers.

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