Welcome to our Colossus Movie Guide for Mean Girls. This guide contains our detailed library of content covering key aspects of the movie’s plot, ending, meaning, and more. We encourage your comments to help us create the best possible guide. Thank you!
What is Mean Girls (2024) about?
The 2024 Mean Girls is an adaptation of the Broadway production of Mean Girls based on the 2004 movie Mean Girls. Compared to the original film, this new rendition is a sleeker, modernized, aggressive, self-aware musical. While the presentation has changed, the core message remains the same—tearing someone else down doesn’t make you superior. Or, in the words of the movie, “Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.” This plays into the second major theme of Mean Girls which is the tension between your natural self and your superficial, plastic self. The former has the confidence to celebrate differences, the other attacks them.
Movie Guide table of contents
- Cady Heron – Angourie Rice
- Ms. Heron – Jenna Fischer
- Janis ‘Imi‘ike – Auli‘i Cravalho
- Damian Hubbard – Jaquel Spivey
- Regina George – Reneé Rapp
- Gretchen Wieners – Bebe Wood
- Karen Shetty – Avantika
- Aaron Samuels – Christopher Briney
- Mrs. George – Busy Philipps
- Ms. Norbury – Tina Fey
- Principal Duvall – Tim Meadows
- Kevin Ganatra – Mahi Alam
- Coach Carr – Jon Hamm
- Moderator – Lindsay Lohan
- Madame Park – Ashley Park
- Megan Thee Stallion – Megan Thee Stallion
- Written by – Tina Fey
- Directed by – Samantha Jayne | Arturo Perez Jr.
The ending of Mean Girls explained
The end of Mean Girls begins following the state championship match for the Mathletes. During a sudden death round to crown the winner, Cady, initially, to herself, negatively analyzes the appearance of the girl from the other team. But then she has an epiphany—judging that girl, tearing her down, won’t help Cady answer the question and win the title. Calling someone else fat doesn’t make you skinnier. Calling someone else dumb doesn’t make you smarter. And, Cady concludes, ruining Regina’s life didn’t actually make her, Cady, any happier. She manages to answer the question correctly (“the limit does not exist”), meaning Northshore wins the state title.
The math team walks into Spring Fling together, just as Principal Duvall announces the winners of Spring Fling King and Queen. The King is Shane Omen. The Queen? Cady Heron! Cady’s shocked because, after the Burn Book debacle, she thinks everyone hates her. She gives a redemptive speech that includes an apology, has her admiring the girls from her class, and, ultimately, breaking the plastic crown so others can share it with her.
Cady makes up with Janice and Damian. Then finally has the romantic kiss with Aaron.
The final scene returns us to the frame narrative of Janice and Damian narrating the story. They tell the audience that the moral of the story is that bullying doesn’t actually make you a better person or feel better as a person, and that “even people who you don’t like just want to coexist, so get off their dicks.”
Up front, Mean Girls tells us it’s a cautionary tale about being mean. And the concluding narration summarizes the main message pretty clearly—criticizing others doesn’t actually help you, and if you leave other people alone then they’ll probably leave you alone and everyone will be much better off because of it. That connects to the animalistic visions that happen throughout the film. Those moments reinforce the idea that North Shore high school is an ecosystem that gives back what you put in. Add a bunch of negativity, and things devolve into negativity. But when you bring positive energy, it restores the balance.
Aside from what the film tells us, it also shows us the difference between the superficial and the natural. “Plastic” represents all things superficial. And the more Cady becomes one of the plastics the worse she is as a person. Even though she dresses better and presents herself in a more attractive way, she’s uglier. And it drives Aaron away from her. When she returns to her more natural self, and is more authentic to her interests and personality, that’s when things go well for her.
That tension between the superficial and natural comes to a head when Cady breaks the plastic crown. It’s a rejection of being the new Regina George and an embracement of her authentic self. Her reputation improves. Her friends come back. And Aaron finally likes her. Be you, coexist with others, and others will want to coexist with you.
The themes and meaning of Mean Girls
What it means to become plastic
Cady starts Mean Girls as a good person who isn’t all that concerned with her outer appearance. Over the course of the film, as she spends time with the plastics, she focuses more on how she looks. That coincides with a decline in personality–she becomes vapid, selfish, conniving, and superficial.
Some might conclude that Mean Girls is saying caring about how you look causes you to be a worse person. But I’d argue that’s correlation rather than causation. Looking “plastic” isn’t what caused Cady to be mean. Being mean is what caused Cady to look plastic.
Movies are a visual medium so they often find ways to externalize the internal world of a character. In Poor Things, the movie starts black and white, as a way to represent the limited experience of the protagonist, Bella Baxter. Once Bella leaves the confines of home and ventures out into the world, the film switches over to color. The outfits she wears are initially thrown together and slightly bizarre. By the end, they’re elegant and refined.
The changes to Cady’s appearance function similarly to Bella’s. Except they mark negative development rather than positive growth. The more Cady acts like Regina George—selfish, superficial, unnecessarily critical—the more she looks like Regina George. The look isn’t the problem. It just represents what the problem is—being something you’re not. Which ties back to Janis’s big speech/song “I’d Rather Be Me”.
Notice how Cady appears at the very end? She’s in a Mathlete jacket, which externalizes her nerdiness and intelligence, something she had spent the movie trying to hide, but also has her hair teased and makeup on in a way that she never would have or could have done before. That’s her middle ground, her “just right”, between the extremes of her inexperience and her most try-hard. Janice has her just right. Karen has her just right. But it takes Cady, Regina, and Gretchen much longer to find theirs.
Why is the movie called Mean Girls?
Tina Fey wrote the original Mean Girls after she read Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman. The subtitle is Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World.
From a blurb about the book: Wiseman has spent more than a decade listening to thousands of girls talk about the powerful role cliques play in shaping what they wear and say, how they respond to boys, and how they feel about themselves. In this candid, insightful book, she dissects each role in the clique: Queen Bees, Wannabees, Messengers, Bankers, Targets, Torn Bystanders, and more. She discusses girls’ power plays, from birthday invitations to cafeteria seating arrangements and illicit parties.
Queen Bees and Wannabees has a very poetic musicality to it. But it’s a lot. Mean Girls is snappier, more marketable, and everyone has someone who immediately comes to mind. We’ve all had a mean girl in our life. That universality of the phrase is powerful and positions the film as relevant for everyone.
Important motifs in Mean Girls
Teenagers as animals
Cady’s childhood in Kenya is how you set up the character being out of the loop on the social norms of American high school. But the location could have been anywhere. The Netherlands. Russia. Chile. Having Cady grow up in the brush of Kenya allows Mean Girls to lean into the idea of the animal kingdom. It positions high school as a wilderness. You have packs, predators and prey, survival of the fittest, social dynamics, all these base instincts, and Regina even sings about being an apex predator.
When you view life that way, things get complicated. Uncivilized. But when the kids see each other as people and treat each other as people, they overcome that part of our ancient lizard-brain that attacks first and is reasonable later.
The broken crown
The plastic crown given to Cady for winning Spring Fling Queen represents her reaching the apex predator status that Regina once held. She could put the crown on and be the most plastic of the plastics. But, instead, she breaks it. That’s a definitive rejection of everything Regina was and taught Cady to be. It also marks a change in dynamics. Cady shares pieces of the crown with other girls. She compliments them. It’s a shift away from competition and superiority and towards community and positivity.
Questions & answers about Mean Girls
Does Mean Girls 2024 exist in the same universe as 2004? Is it a sequel or remake?
Nope. They’re two different canons. If they were in the same universe, we’d have more dialogue from Ms. Norbury and Principal Duvall about how this all happened once before. It would also be insane for everyone to have the same name. So, no, not the same universe.
The question of whether or not Mean Girls 2024 is actually kind of strange. It’s technically not remaking the movie but adapting the Broadway musical that’s an adaptation of the 2004 movie. Because of that, some have argued it’s not a traditional remake. It’s strange because the technical definition of remake is a new project based on a previous telling in the same medium.
For example, RoboCop from 2014 is pretty different from the original 1987 movie. But it’s still based on the 1987 movie, even if it changes a lot of material. But 2010 Robin Hood isn’t a remake of any other film-version of the character because it’s a new adaptation of the original folklore.
Mean Girls falls into a gray area. Since it’s not a straight remake. But, using the transitive property from math, if the Broadway musical is an adaptation of the 2004 film, and the 2024 film is an adaptation of the Broadway musical, then the 2024 film is a remake of the 2004 original. Especially since it makes several direct references to the original and even has Lindsay Lohan in a guest role.
Is Cady from Kenya in the original movie?
All they say is that she’s from Africa.
Do Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried appear in the new Mean Girls?
Why did Regina put her own name in the Burn Book?
So she could frame Cady and play innocent.
Now it’s your turn
Have more unanswered questions about Mean Girls? Are there themes or motifs we missed? Is there more to explain about the ending? Please post your questions and thoughts in the comments section! We’ll do our best to address every one of them. If we like what you have to say, you could become part of our movie guide!