When the original Mean Girls was released in 2004, its Y2K cultural zeitgeist quickly translated into one of the most quotable movies of all time. So much so, that it was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2017. Since it received the musical treatment and an all-new screen adaptation in 2024, the iconic (and at times, problematic) punchlines had to be updated to fall in line with the current social climate. And, let's be real — some of the jokes from the OG Mean Girls definitely wouldn't fly in 2024, and even a mean girl like Regina George is sensitive to certain groups and well aware of cancel culture.
During an interview with The New York Times, writer and producer Tina Fey clarified that she made some changes as parts of the original film aged poorly. "I was writing in the early 2000s very much based on my experience as a teen in the late '80s. It's come to no one’s surprise that jokes have changed," she explained. "You don’t poke in the way that you used to poke. Even if your intention was always the same, it's just not how you do it anymore, which is fine. I very much believe that you can find new ways to do jokes with less accidental shrapnel sideways," she continued, adding, "I know that even Regina would know what wouldn't fly. She's going to find a way to inflict pain on people, but she's not going to get herself in trouble."
The screen adaptation of the Broadway musical hits UK cinemas this Friday 19th January, and fans of the original 2004 flick may notice some things are definitely different this time around. Ahead, find all the key differences between the two films.
Cady has a single mum
In the new film, The Office's Jenna Fischer takes on the role of Cady's mum — and she's raising her daughter as a single parent.
Janis is openly queer
In the original Mean Girls movie, the storyline tiptoed around Janis' identity by using "Lebanese" as a descriptor and through Regina's joke made during the gym assembly where she says, "It's her dream… Jumping into a pile of girls!" This time around, Auli'I Cravalho's take on the character is openly queer, and her jab in the Burn Book calls her a "Pyro-Lez."
"Previously, in our '04 version, 'lesbian' for Janis was used kind of as a slur, and we're taking that back. Absolutely not. I am a pyro-lez, loud and proud. I will light your backpack on fire if you talk shit about me," Auli'I told Screen Rant of her take on the character.
And because of that, her past with Regina is more complicated
Janis has complex feelings when it comes to Regina and their past, according to the new film. In the 2024 adaptation, the pair were best friends in middle school and had matching plush toys. When Janis came out to Regina, they both put gay pride pins on their toys in solidarity. Damian tells Cady that Janis and Regina even kissed during a game of Spin the Bottle, but it turns out that Regina only did it to get attention from a guy named Kyle. It seems that Janis' reasoning for her revenge stems from potential romantic feelings for Regina and the betrayal she felt after she kissed her and left her dry.
The iconic four-way call scene? It's like the limit: it doesn't exist
Unfortunately, the four-way call scene that birthed "Boo you, whore" didn't make its way into the 2024 version. According to Tina Fey, some of the scenes and jokes were cut from the new film, but not for moral reasons. "Some of that was just needing to go faster to make room for songs," she explained to The New York Times. Okay, fair! But imagine this four-way call in song form...
Coach Carr doesn't hook up with students
Do I even need to explain this one? 😬 It was a problematic take in the 2004 movie, and it was cut altogether in the new version for obviously gross reasons. His "Don't have sex, because you'll get pregnant and die" line was also cut from the film, but replaced with a punchline about choking. Okaaay, then.
Aaron Samuels is less of a jock and more of a sensitive student
Jonathan Bennett's portrayal of Aaron Samuels is known for being a popular jock with a bombastic confidence, but Christopher Briney's take on the role is charming, broody, and sensitive. He is still bad at calc, but hey — that's the origin of his 'ship with Cady, after all.
Ms. Norbury and Principal Duvall are dating
This one's kind of special, considering Tina Fey and Tim Meadows reprised their original roles in the new movie. The original film drops hints that Principal Duvall has a little crush on Ms. Norbury, but in this version, they're fully dating. It's subtly revealed during the gym assembly scene when they whisper about chores.
Important to note: there are a few changes during the assembly. For starters, Ms. Norbury gives Cady's internal monologue from the original film where she says "Calling someone stupid won't make you smart." Another difference? The entire "Raise your hand if you've been personally victimized by Regina George" line was cut.
The Winter Talent Show kicks off the downfall of Regina George
In the '04 movie, the Plastics' 'Jingle Bell Rock' number goes downhill once Gretchen kicks the boombox in Jason's face. How! Ever! In the new movie, Regina is humiliated as she tumbles during the performance — and even prompts TikTok commentary from Coach Carr and Megan Thee Stallion.
Mean Girls is in UK cinemas on 19th January 2024.
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