Happy Mean Girls Day! Here are some things you might not have contemplated about this already cult-status classic. Which even has its own widely celebrated national day of recognition.
1. MEAN GIRLS WAS INSPIRED BY A SELF-HELP BOOK FOR PARENTS.
Tina Fey was inspired to write Mean Girls, her very first screenplay, after reading Rosalind Wiseman’s bestselling book Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence. As the book’s title suggests, Wiseman offers advice and strategies to parents on how to help their daughters navigate the choppy waters of adolescence. Much of the book contains anecdotes culled from Wiseman’s time spent leading workshops in schools nationwide through Empower, a non-profit anti-violence program she cofounded.
“You may feel that it’s not worth making a federal case of not getting invited to a birthday party or letting your daughter blow off one friend for another,” Wiseman writes. “But these aren’t trivial issues; they lay the groundwork for girls faking their feelings, pretending to be someone they’re not, pleasing others at their own expense, or otherwise sacrificing self-esteem and authenticity.”
2. LINDSAY LOHAN’S CHARACTER IS NAMED AFTER TINA FEY’S COLLEGE ROOMMATE ...
While studying drama at the University of Virginia in the early ’90s, Tina Fey and her college buddy Cady Garey shared what sounds like a rather squalid apartment in Charlottesville: “We really didn’t have any furniture,” Garey told UVA's alumni magazine in 2013. “[We had] just mattresses on the floor and a bean bag in the living room.”
Still, it must have been a pretty great bonding experience; according to the magazine, Cady Garey is the namesake for Mean Girls’s main heroine, Cady Heron.
3. … AND (POSSIBLY) ELIZABETH CADY STANTON.
4. TINA FEY HAD TROUBLE WITH MS. NORBURY’S MATH-RELATED LINES.
Fey chose to play a math teacher in an attempt to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math, she told The New York Times back in 2004. However, she admitted that she did not understand any of the lines she was reciting. So how did she get the dialogue? “My friend’s boyfriend is a calculus teacher in the Bronx,” Fey said. “I took his lesson plans.”
5. THERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF COURTNEY LOVE AND ALEC BALDWIN IN REGINA GEORGE.
“At the heart of Regina George was a really angry kid who had no boundaries or guidance,” Rachel McAdams said in The New York Times's oral history of the film. To channel Regina’s fury, director Mark Waters encouraged McAdams “to listen to Courtney Love at a high volume” (we’re assuming McAdams means she listened to Love’s band Hole) as well as to watch Alec Baldwin’s notoriously menacing, expletive-laden scene in Glengarry Glen Ross.
6. “DAMIAN” INSTILLED SERIOUS COURAGE IN ACTOR DANIEL FRANZESE.
“When I was cast in the role of ‘Damian’ in Mean Girls, I was TERRIFIED to play this part,” Daniel Franzese wrote on Bent. However, in the next sentence, Franzese captured what was so refreshing about Damian: “This was a natural and true representation of a gay teenager—a character we laughed with instead of at.” Franzese says that years after Mean Girls, grown men—some of them in tears—approached him on the street to thank him for being a role model.
Though Franzese says his friends and family have known that he is gay, he decided a decade later to come out publicly. “Perhaps this will help someone else,” he wrote at the letter’s conclusion. “I had to remind myself that my parents named me Daniel because it means ‘God is my judge.’ So, I’m not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian.”
7. THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING DAMIAN: FRANZESE IS CONSTANTLY BOMBARDED WITH HIS MOST FAMOUS LINE.
Ever since Mean Girls, Franzese is often recognized. “It doesn’t matter where I am; you know it’s me. I don’t really blend,” he told Cosmopolitan. “And sometimes it’s nerve-wracking. I can be talking to someone in a bar and it’s chill, and then they’re like, ‘YOU GO GLEN COCO!’”
Glen Coco was, of course, a minor, if not virtually nonexistent, Mean Girls character. In fact, the back of Glen Coco’s head seems to appear in only one scene in which he does nothing more than receive four candy canes from an encouraging Damian. Glen Coco, however, has, awesomely and inexplicably, become a meme.
8. THE STRANGELY NOTORIOUS GLEN COCO WAS PLAYED BY A CANADIAN ACTOR NAMED DAVID REALE.
In 2013, BuzzFeed conducted an important investigation into Glen Coco and discovered that, though his role was uncredited in the film, his face is actually fully visible in the scene in which Gretchen reads her impassioned essay on Julius Caesar (he’s sitting directly in front of Lindsay Lohan). BuzzFeed did some further digging and discovered that Glen Coco was played by David Reale, a Canadian actor who has also appeared on Suits, the U.S. version of Skins, and on a couple episodes of Queer as Folk.
9. AMANDA SEYFRIED ALMOST PLAYED AN ETHEREAL YET FRIGHTENING REGINA GEORGE.
In 2013, right after playing challenging roles in Les Miserables and Lovelace, Amanda Seyfried told IndieWire that she still looked back at her role as Mean Girls’s rather, um, simple Karen Smith as her best work. “I was so innocent. I was so green,“ she says. “I look back and I’m like, ‘Really, I thought I was doing a terrible job.’ But it was written so well and so wonderfully directed. Mark Waters made me look good; he made me funny. And Tina Fey wrote the coolest script of all time.”
Seyfried almost played the role of Regina George, Waters told Vulture. "She tested for Regina and was kind of brilliant, and very different than Rachel's approach,” Waters says. “She played it in a much more ethereal but still kind of scary way. She was more frightening, but oddly, less intimidating."
10. THERE'S A REAL JANIS IAN.
Janis Ian was the first musical guest on SNL. Ian won a Grammy for her song “At Seventeen,” which is all about Mean Girls’s main theme: the insecurities that go along with being a teenager.
In 2008, Ian told TIME that she bonded with her friend Janis Joplin over similar feelings. “I loved her. I think we fell in together because we had things in common. We both felt fat. We both had bad skin. We both felt like nothing we wore looked right. We were both outsiders, and she was very protective of me in a really nice way.”
11. LACEY CHABERT HEARS "FETCH" AT LEAST 100 TIMES A DAY
Perhaps even more iconic than “You Go, Glen Coco!” in the world of Mean Girls is, of course, anything related to “fetch,” as in “That’s so fetch!” (Gretchen Wieners) and “Stop trying to make fetch happen” (Regina George). The whole “fetch” thing is so enduring that even the Obama White House made a fetch-inspired joke involving Bo the First Dog in 2013.
“People tweet at me every day hundreds of times, if not thousands of times [with] lines from the movie: ‘That’s so fetch!’,” Lacey Chabert, who played Toaster Strudel heiress Gretchen Wieners, told Entertainment Weekly. In fact, “fetch” has even followed Chabert offline, to the unlikeliest of places. “I was at the pharmacy and I was sick and trying to get medicine, and the pharmacist just looked at me and goes, ‘You don’t look like you feel very fetch today.’”
12. AARON SAMUELS (A.K.A. JONATHAN BENNETT) STILL LOOKS SEXY WITH HIS HAIR PUSHED BACK ...
... as the author of the satirical The Burn Cookbook: An Unofficial Authorized Cookbook for Mean Girls Fans.
13. AMY POEHLER SCHOOLED KEVIN G. ON HOW TO RAP.
Though Tina Fey wrote the Mean Girls script, she left the penning of mathlete Kevin Gnapoor’s talent-show rap to her pal Amy Poehler. “Amy definitely coached him on how to do the rap, and she actually gave him some of the moves and choreography for it,” Waters told Vulture. In fact, an amazing YouTube video (above) exists of Poehler performing the rap circa 2004, with Fey and Lohan as her hype women.
Speaking of Kevin G. (a.k.a. Rajiv Surendra): He's now a professional calligrapher. He creates beautiful chalk walls, logos, and invitations. He's also a potter, painter, and a writer. In 2017, his memoir—The Elephants in My Backyard: A Memoir of Chasing a Dream and Facing Failure—was published.
14. ROSALIND WISEMAN THINKS TINA FEY MOSTLY GOT HER BOOK RIGHT.
Except in her workshops, Wiseman doesn’t do trust falls. “I do not do trust falls, I have never done trust falls, I will never do trust falls,” Wiseman told The Wire.
Still, she wouldn’t change anything. “Both Tina and I seem to be trying to carve out space of how to give women [a] voice in public,” Wiseman says. “So it’s pretty cool to have a collaboration between two people who say, 'Yeah, let’s work together to do this, because you’re smart, you’re funny, I think you’re going to do a good job, let’s try.'"
15. IT WAS TURNED INTO A BROADWAY MUSICAL.
Fey, her husband Jeff Richmond, and Tony award-nominated lyricist Nell Benjamin created a Broadway version of Mean Girls that opened at Washington, D.C.'s National Theatre in October 2017 and moved to Broadway's August Wilson Theatre in April 2018. It earned 12 Tony nominations earlier this year, and won Fey a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical.