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The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

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The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

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Not so fetch: modernized Mean Girls remake

Retelling of comedy classic fails to capture the magic of the original, still entices audience members
Olivia Tankevicius

After graduating from University of Virginia, Tina Fey moved to Chicago and got a job as the front desk receptionist of the Evanston McGaw YMCA. In those hours of placating hurried parents, checking in boisterous teenagers and listening to children screaming, the inspiration behind “”Mean Girls”” (2004) began to grow. When Fey read the nonfiction sociology book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” by Rosalind Wisement in 2002, the idea burst forth. 

“Mean Girls” is an age-old classic, following a girl named Cady Heron in her first year of high school after moving to Evanston, Ill. from Africa. She quickly befriends a girl named Janis and her best friend Damien before getting invited to sit with ‘The Plastics’, the clique of the uber-popular and uber-mean Regina George, Karen Smith, and Gretchen Weiner. From there Cady embarks on a revenge mission against Regina to win the man of her dreams, Aaron Samuels. 

Since 2004, “Mean Girls” has been adapted into a Broadway musical and a recently released 2024 movie adaptation that includes musical elements.

“Queen Bees and Wannabes” discussed female friendships, especially in highschool, which Fey relied upon as well as pulling from her experiences at Upper Darby High School in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. She also drew on her experiences with Evanston Township High School and New Trier, which ultimately inspired “Mean Girls” to be set in Evanston.

“The original [Mean Girls Movie] was definitely a lot more Evanston. The new [musical] was not at all. It was more California,” said Eva Cherkasky, co-leader of ETHS’s Creative Writing Club and a long-time fan of “Mean Girls” (2004) and “Mean Girls” the musical (2024). 

Arlo Lee, a fellow fan and returning YAMO board member, agreed. 

“I would say the setting in the [original movie] makes more sense. In the new one, I would say that the  school doesn’t really look like any of the schools in the area.” 

Leela Wittenberg Trubowitz, a junior who starred as King Ceyx in the ETHS play “Metamorphoses”  and assistant directed the ETHS play “I Am Frankenstein,” found the social dynamics of “Mean Girls” to be very relatable. “I was like, ‘oh yeah, totally, this happens in Evanston’,” they explains.

Luckily, the focus on female friendships didn’t affect Lee’s enjoyment of the story, despite being a guy: “I still enjoy it. It’s got a good storyline. It’s fun!” 

The three iterations of “Mean Girls” share many similarities and many differences. For instance, Renné Rapp, who played Regina George in the original “Mean Girls” the musical on Broadway, was recast as Regina George in the 2024 version. On the other hand, “Mean Girls” (2024) included several changes to the original plot. One such change is the scene where Regina, Gretchen, Karen, and Cady perform a dance to ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ at the school’s talent show. In the original scene, Gretchen messes up and accidentally kicks the radio into the face of her love interest, Jason. In the 2024 version, Regina attempts to do a gymnastics move and ends up falling on her face.

“I think it marked a much steeper decline in Regina. If anything, Regina became alienated really, really quickly in the new movie compared to the old one…It felt like more of a shock thing, like, ‘Oh my god, Regina fell and now we hate her,’” said Cherkasky.

Additionally, the style of music is vastly different in the 2024 version from the Broadway version. 

“The original musical is a musical. The 2024 version is a movie with music in it…They poppified all the songs.” said Wittenberg Trubowitz.

Fans of Mean Girls” (2004) and “Mean Girls” the musical have had a variety of reactions to the new movie.

“There was a lot of pushback to the movie from all the lovers of the original movie and the musical,” Lee said. “For the people who love the original movie, there was too much music. But the musical loving people, they pared down the music so much that they’re like ‘this is terrible.’”

Cherkasky is among those who prefer the original movie. 

“It felt more raw, more of like a high school experience,” Cherkasky said. “I’m able to relate to the original “Mean Girls” much more than the new one. The new one feels very idealized, very filtered.”

As someone with a queer identity, part of Cherkasky’s opinion was because of how the 2024 version treated Janis’s sexuality. 

“Even though we’re no longer making fun of, ‘Oh, she’s a lesbian,’ I feel like they lost a lot of the personal stuff she had…She didn’t really talk about her ‘big fat lesbian crush’. Even though she was being made fun of in the original movie, I still felt a connection to it that I lost in this new one.”

The official date Mean Girls” (2024) will be available for streaming is unknown, but it will eventually be available on streaming platforms such as Paramount+ and Amazon Prime Video. For now, it’s only available in theaters. 

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About the Contributors
Eleanor Granstrom
Eleanor Granstrom, Staff Writer
Hey! My name is Olivia Tankevicius (they/them). I’m a sophomore, and this is my second year as an artist for the paper! Being part of The Evanstonian staff has allowed me to take my hobby and use it to contribute to my school community, an opportunity I am so grateful for. Around ETHS, you’ll find me acting in theater, and dancing on the ETHS team. Outside of school I love to crochet, dance at another studio, and take really cute pictures of my cat!
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