ENTERTAINMENT
04/02/2021 10:01 GMT

Mean Girls: 30 Things You Didn't Know, As The Film Makes Netflix Return

It's one of the most quotable films of the last 20 years, but how much do you really know about it?

It’s been 17 years since Mean Girls was released, but we still find ourselves turning to it when we need cheering up.

The 2004 teen comedy returned to Netflix UK after a long absence at the beginning of another month of lockdown – and quickly shot to the top of the streaming platform’s “most watched” list.

By now, die-hard Mean Girls have will have memorised all the film’s key scenes and likely know its iconic quotes backwards, but there are probably still things about the film you’ve never heard before.

Like, which A-listers were originally considered to be part of the Plastics? And where exactly did Tina Fey get “fetch” and “Glenn Coco” from? 

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The Plastics roam the hall in Mean Girls

Here are 30 things you probably never knew about Mean Girls...

1. The film is actually based on a parenting book called Queen Bees And Wannabes

Obviously it’s nothing new that a hit film should be based on a book, but because Mean Girls was inspired by what was basically a self-help book for parents, Tina Fey had to really think outside the box when it came to putting a narrative together.

There are some major nods to the book within Mean Girls, though, most notably Gretchen’s speech about the Plastics’ rules, which are lifted verbatim from Queen Bees And Wannabes.

 

2. Before the title Mean Girls came along, the film was going to be called something else entirely

Everyone had originally intended for the film to be called Homeschooled, and be about Cady’s character joining a local high school after a lifetime of being taught from home.

However, this was before the idea for Cady to have grown up in Africa came along, after which there were some rewrites and a change of title.

3. The film was also originally intended to be much more explicit

Certain scenes had to be edited or axed completely, in order for the film to get a more teen-friendly rating. Among this, a scene where Cady walks in on Gretchen and Jason kissing was supposed to have involved the two engaging in some more “adult” behaviour, while the line “made out with a hot dog” was originally “masturbated with a hot dog”.

Frankly, we think what they went with was a lot funnier.

 

Censors told the Mean Girls team that the iconic line “I can’t help it if I have a wide-set vagina and a heavy flow” was also going to have to be cut, but they fought back, pointing to more explicit moments that had been featured in Anchorman.

“We told them, ‘You’re only saying this because it’s a girl, and she’s talking about a part of her anatomy’,” director Mark Waters revealed to Vulture years later. “There’s no sexual context whatsoever, and to say this is restrictive to an audience of girls is demeaning to all women.... And they eventually had to back down.”

4. Tina Fey named a lot of the main characters after real people – and that includes Glenn Coco

Tina Fey – who wrote the film, and also stars as Miss Norbury – told Entertainment Weekly: “I tried to use real names in writing because it’s just easier.”

Main character Cady Heron was named after her college roommate, while Damian got his name from her high school friend, Damian Holbrook, who later became a writer for TV Guide.

“You go Glenn Coco” is one of the film’s most-quoted lines, and there is, in fact, a real Glenn Coco. He’s a film editor in Los Angeles, who knew Tina Fey’s brother. 

 

5. There are a couple of exceptions to that rule, though

Regina, fittingly, is the Latin word for “queen”, while Janis Ian got her name from the US singer-songwriter of the same name. 

One of Janis’ signature songs, At Seventeen, can be heard in one of the key scenes in Mean Girls, when the Plastics are arguing over the phone.

Moviestore/Shutterstock
Lindsay Lohan, Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Franzese in Mean Girls

6. Tina Fey deliberately came up with fake slang for the characters, so Mean Girls wouldn’t seem so dated when we watched it back

The key example of this is, obviously, Gretchen’s attempts at “making ‘fetch’ happen”.

 

7. There’s also a very specific reason her character teaches Maths rather than any other subject

“It was an attempt on my part to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math,” she told the New York Times shortly after the film’s release, quickly adding: “Even though I didn’t understand a word [my character] was saying.” 

8. Lindsay Lohan originally auditioned for Regina George

In fact, it sounds like she had her heart set on the role... until Freaky Friday came out, that is, and the production company seemed less convinced that people would believe Lindsay Lohan as a villain.

“Sherry Lansing, who was heading Paramount at the time, told us, ’We have to have Lindsay play the lead in Mean Girls,” Mark Waters told Vulture in 2014.

“It’s just not going to work having her play the villain, because she now has an audience that won’t accept that’.”

Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock
Lindsay Lohan fancied herself as Regina George before she was officially cast as Cady Heron

Ultimately, Lindsay was happy with the decision, though, as it meant she had “more lines”. A fair point.

9. And so did Amanda Seyfried

Mean Girls was actually Amanda Seyfried’s first film role, and she had her eye on the Queen Bee, Regina George.

″[Amanda] tested for Regina and was kind of brilliant, and very different than Rachel’s approach,” Mark told Vulture. “She played it in a much more ethereal but still kind of scary way. She was more frightening, but oddly, less intimidating.”

10. Meanwhile, Rachel McAdams originally tried out for Lindsay’s role, but producers felt at 25 she was “too old” to play “the ingénue”

Once Lindsay was cast as Cady Heron, though, suddenly Rachel started to make sense as Regina George. And the rest is history.

11. A number of other A-list stars also didn’t make it into the film

Evan Rachel Wood turned down a part in Mean Girls, while Blake Lively and High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale both tried out for the role of Karen.

James Franco was also in the running to play Cady’s love interest Aaron Samuels.

Jeff Kravitz via Getty Images
Evan Rachel Wood

12. Jonathan Bennett was actually a last-minute replacement to play Aaron Samuels

Daniel Franzese – who played Damian – told Attitude magazine in 2014 that someone else had been cast as Aaron Samuels, but he was dropped on the first day of production.

Recalling a cast dinner before filming began, Daniel said: “There was another actor who was playing Aaron Samuels at the dinner.

“Now, the next day at the table read, this other actor hadn’t shaved and he didn’t take his hat off; he was playing it really cool.

“People kept coming over to him like, ‘You know, you should really take your hat off.’ And then, right after the table read, he got fired and they called Jonathan Bennett, who I guess was their second choice.”

Michael Gibson/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock
Jonathan Bennett played love interest Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls – but things could have been very different.

13. Meanwhile Rajiv Surendra auditioned for the part of Damian

You know him best as “math enthusiast/badass MC” Kevin G, but Rajiv told Cosmopolitan: “I auditioned for Damian but got called back for Kevin G.”

After a shaky first audition – including flubbing his character’s infamous rap – he ended up bagging the role after impressing the director second time around.

14. Damian was apparently one of the harder characters to cast

Director Mark Waters told Cosmo: “Tina and I met Daniel Franzese in New York City and really liked him, he was so funny and had such a great personality but he came in the room, auditioned and was terrible.

“We were going to LA to do the readthrough and still hadn’t cast Damian, we were getting very frustrated. Then Tina and I remembered how funny Daniel was and thought he would be great just to have in the room, even if we don’t give him the part.

“He came and he brought it. He’d clearly done his homework and was getting huge laughs. By the time it was over, we knew he was our Damian.”

15. Amy Poehler was obviously a scene-stealer as Mrs George, but she was even less of a “regular mom” than you might have realised

Michael Gibson/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock
Amy Poehler played the "cool mom" in Mean Girls

In fact, there was only an age gap of seven years between Rachel McAdams and Amy Poehler when they played mother and daughter, which really says something about both of their acting ability. 

16. And anyone who’s ever wondered how they made the dog do that in her very first scene need wonder no more

Apparently Amy Poehler put a cocktail sausage in her character’s bra, which the pooch went for immediately.

 

17. You probably worked this out for yourself, but that cast on Tim Meadows’ arm was real

He broke his hand right before filming started, so Tina Fey thought on her feet and decided to give Principal Duvall carpal tunnel syndrome.

That did lead to one of the most underrated exchanges in the whole film, though.

 

18. Lindsay missed the first day of shooting due to an unfortunate case of pink eye

Bringing new meaning to “on Wednesdays, we wear pink”, right? 

For those wondering, the first scene of the film to be shot was the one where Kevin G introduces himself, and reveals his outstanding business card.

Paramount Pictures
Kevin Gnapoor's business card as seen in Mean Girls

19. Daniel Franzese performed Beautiful for a very special audience

In fact, while he filmed the first part of his Christmas pageant, there was only one person in the auditorium audience... his mum. N’awww.

 

Daniel even got to meet Christina Aguilera years after Mean Girls came out, but it didn’t go as he envisaged.

“I thought for sure that would be an exciting moment in my life,” he told Yahoo!. “And I was like, ‘Christina, my name’s Daniel. I sing Beautiful in Mean Girls’. And she was like, ‘Never saw it’. And then turned her back and walked away. She was so rude.”

20. True to their name, the Plastics’ Christmas outfits were made of – you guessed it – plastic

Interestingly, you never actually hear Regina, Gretchen or Karen refer to themselves as the Plastics for the entire film.

Michael Gibson/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock
The Jingle Bell Rock performance is a stand-out moment in Mean Girls.

21. Damian’s most iconic line was actually improvised on set by Daniel Franzese

And it turns out it literally was his pink shirt that Lindsay Lohan wore in the film.

22. We all know Aaron Samuels’ hair “looks sexy pushed back”, but it ought to, the amount of time that was spent on it

Jonathan Bennett recalled to Cosmo: “They spent more time on my hair than they did with some of the girls. The first shot of me in the movie, when you see my character for first time in that turn around close up, I was sent back to hair and make up for them to do my hair more.

“The director would say: ‘It’s got to be smoother and more buttery’.”

Michael Gibson/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock
Jonathan Bennett and Lindsay Lohan in one of their classroom scenes.

He added: “Normally in such movies, the girl is the object of affection but in Mean Girls everything is reversed and it was me so every shot of my hair, make up and clothes had to be perfect at all times.”

23. Remember that song Cady is so excited to actually know at the school dance? Well, it’s quite significant to Lindsay Lohan too

The track in question – repeated various times throughout Mean Girls – is Built This Way, performed by Samantha Ronson. Yes, the same Samantha Ronson that Lindsay was romantically linked to for several years.

24. And Damian and Janis’ kiss was almost a lot more full-on than how it played out on screen

Daniel Franzese told Yahoo!: “The first take that we did of that, we really went for it and like made out. And Mark was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s not it, it’s too much!’.

“And everybody was lapping it up. We like really went for like a real kiss. It was really funny... It was actually my first on-screen kiss.”

Paramount Pictures
Janis and Damian at the high school dance

25. Daniel Franzese and Jonathan Bennett were both yet to come out while filming Mean Girls, but confided in one another privately

“Jonathan and I had confided in each other we were gay so we were able to be comfortable,” Daniel told Cosmo, with the Aaron Samuels star agreeing: “We both knew like, ‘Oh, you’re in the club’.

“It was a different time back then so we confided in each other and shared our own worries, fears, hopes and dreams. Having Daniel and us being able to talk to each other really helped.”

26. There were a number of alternative endings, including a side to Kevin G we’re happy we didn’t get to see

Apparently, Tina Fey’s character was supposed to find out Kevin G was selling ecstasy to his fellow students, confiscating his pills and putting them in her desk drawer.

Unfortunately, when she was accused of being a “pusher” in the Burn Book, this would lead the police to actually find drugs in her desk, with Damian somehow eventually taking the heat.

Listen, we’re going to be honest. That’s something we’re pretty relieved ended up being cut completely. 

Michael Gibson/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock
The Plastics wearing pink... because it's Wednesday, obv.

27. Thanks to that one exchange between Cady and Aaron, 3 October is now known as Mean Girls day

 

In recent years, the cast have used the day to raise awareness of important causes. In 2017, they shared a fundraiser for those affected by a shooting in Las Vegas, while two years later, they shone a light on The Thirst Project, which aimed to raise money to build a freshwater well in Uganda.

In 2020, the film’s stars took part in a virtual reunion on 3 October, in collaboration with HeadCount, to promote voting in the then-upcoming US election.

28. Mean Girls can count some very famous stars among its fans

Mariah Carey has spoken numerous times about how much she loves Mean Girls, with her 2009 hit Obsessed taking its hook from a Regina George quote.

Meanwhile, Ariana Grande recreated scenes from the film in her 2019 Thank U, Next video, which featured cameos from Jonathan Bennett and Stefanie Drummond.

 

29. Tina Fey has admitted she regrets not writing a sequel while the cast were all still young

A sequel of sorts, Mean Girls 2, does exist but... the less said about that the better, to be honest. 

30. There is a film version of the Broadway musical in the works, though

A stage version of Mean Girls hit Broadway in 2018, written by Tina Fey and with music by her husband, Jeff Richmond.

There are a few key differences between the film and musical, most notably that the latter includes things incorporates themes like social media and cyberbullying, which were far less present when Mean Girls was first released in 2004.

Sadly, it was announced in 2020 that the show would not be returning when theatres reopen after the pandemic. One thing we can look forward to, though, is a new film based on the musical, which Tina also confirmed to be in the works.

Mean Girls is now available to stream on Netflix in the UK. And what could be more “fetch” than that?