Two things surprised me when I learned teen comedy Mean Girls was based on Rosalind Wiseman's book Queen Bees and Wannabes. First of all, the book isn't a narrative but a sociological study on teenage girls. Let's face it: A how-to-manual for parents of teenage daughters is unusual film fodder.
The second surprise about the comedic Mean Girls is that it's, well … comedic. True, Queen Bees is no stuffy sociological term paper. Wiseman, the founder of a non-for-profit group to stop teen violence, does write with a winsome, casual tone and sparks of humor. But it's odd to think someone read her chapters on what to do if your daughter is lying, drinking, or manipulating friends and thought, "Man, this sure would be a funny teen popcorn flick!"
That brings us to Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live writer and the show's Weekend Update anchorwoman, who wrote the Mean Girls screenplay. (Note: SNL producer Lorne Michaels is producer of the film, which casts at least three SNLers besides Fey.) It feels like Queen Bees was basically background material for Fey on the social dynamics of female popularity—where cliques rule with manipulation, judgment, and cruel harassment.
Readers of Wiseman's book might see various case studies in the film if they look hard enough. But to say that Mean Girls is based on Queen Bees would be akin to saying that background material on safecracking might have gone into the writing of The Ladykillers. The plot is Fey's own creation and weaves pieces of the book with 1989's Heathers and a stack of other high school flicks.
Fey's plot follows Cady (Lindsay Lohan of Freaky Friday, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen) on her first day of public school. Cady has grown up home-schooled in Africa because her ...1
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