‘Mean Girls: A Novel’ is coming soon, and it’s based on the movie, which is based on another book…which sounds like something directly out of another of Tina Fey’s brainchildren, ‘30 Rock’ (‘Mystic Pizza’, anyone?). With a musical on the horizon, too, we have to ask: is is too much?
Let me be clear: I am utterly fond of Mean Girls. Like many people in my age group, I’ve seen it a million times, and I can summon a reference for any relevant situation. When news broke that it would be turned into a Broadway show, I was excited. (In 2011, I saw a local, unauthorized production of a Mean Girls musical. I loved it.) I am the proud owner of socks with Damien’s sunglass-and-hoodie-wearing person on them. But so far, there have only been two truly good projects related to the franchise. They are A), the original movie Mean Girls, and B) the upcoming musical. Importantly, both are helmed by Tina Fey, one of the best we’ve got.
Everything else can take a seat, okay?
Look, the people will not easily forget about the colossal flop known as Mean Girls 2, a standalone sequel that starred Who Cares? and went straight to DVD. You can ply us with #YouCantSitWithUs hashtags, courtesy of the official Mean Girls social media channels, and urge us to wear pink on Oct. 3, otherwise known as Mean Girls Day (yes, it exists). But as the cult teen comedy rows swiftly toward the mainstream, we begin to have a sour taste in our mouths that even Glen Coco can’t erase.
When I saw that a book adaptation of the film, geared at young adults, would be arriving this autumn — obviously intended to coincide with buzz for the musical, which is on track to debut the same season — I couldn’t help but give a Liz Lemon-sized eyeroll. Really? A book based on a movie that is already based on Rosalind Wiseman’s self-help book Queen Bees and Wannabes? (Rosalind, for the record, was not approached about the YA book.) I read the excerpt that’s making the rounds on the Interwebs, and it’s essentially a transcript of the movie. It just seems like an unnecessary move.
Now, as Rosalind tells me, I’m not the first to suggest the phenomenon has started to reach a level of excess over the years. “It’s a legit argument to be made,” she says. “Yes, the film is entertainment and it’s funny, but it doesn’t represent all girls’ experiences. And then there’s an over-saturation of [clothes] that have quotes on them and stuff like that.” Remind me not to show Rosalind my socks.
On the other hand, the franchise’s entry into the zeitgeist can be seen as a positive, if complicated, aspect. “Maureen Dowd referenced the film in the Wall Street Journal maybe [Ed. note: it was the New York Times], many years ago,” Rosalind remembers. “That was the first time I realized that people were using the wording in the world I had come up with to understand politics.”
Still, it’s interesting to consider that because Mean Girls was based on Rosalind’s nonfiction book, some of the film’s aspects were actually true, which explains why so many people relate to it. “‘On Wednesdays, we wear pink,’ was straight out of one of my student’s mouths,” Rosalind says. Naturally, that went on to become one of the most iconic lines in the movie.
Finally, another thing that hasn’t changed is bullies are rampant in just about every high schools. But the franchise’s presence, at times, perpetuates that atmosphere. Which is not helpful. “It’s funny when it’s 15-year-old girls having casual days on Fridays, it’s absurd…but on the other side, it’s really serious,” Rosalind says. “It’s saying, where do these girls get these messages that they have to enforce these rules on each other every day? And now, with girls obsessing over their social media numbers. Shouldn’t they be focusing on something more important?” It‘s all fun and games to quote the movie, until you realize that kids are still facing those issues IRL, if you will. They’re still being bullied — and now everyone can tweet about it.
Is the Golden Age of Mean Girls risking extinction, HollywoodLifers? You tell me.