From my perspective atop a gilded, hot pink pedestal with a cosmo in one hand and lip gloss in the other, Mean Girls is one of the most important movies ever. It has everything – a plain but likable lead in Lindsay Lohan’s Cady Heron, timeless humor courtesy of Tina Fey, and a stellar cast that exaggerates high school to perfection. These aspects make the film great, but Mean Girls is propelled to top-tier status thanks to its cunning queen bee, Regina George. Rachel McAdams’ portrayal of Regina George garnered critical acclaim, earning her a spot among other villainous socialites like Ashley Tisdale’s Sharpay Evans and Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz. But – is Regina George actually a villain?
Regina’s entrance into the movie is narrated by everyone else but her. As the viewer, we’re like Cady, trying to take in the social hierarchy of North Shore High on day one. Everyone’s judgment of Regina, even her ex-best friend Janis Ian’s, is tainted by extremely negative views and/or lofty rumors. Although Regina’s actions don’t help these outlandish judgments, her first lines are not that awful. Sure – she calls Jason, Gretchen Wiener’s former love interest, a skeeze and tells him to shave his back, but Regina does it to defend Cady after Jason tries to poke fun at her for being the new girl. Regina then offers Cady a seat at the Plastics’ table, extending her offer for the whole week. Keep in mind, good ol’ Cady was eating her dry sandwiches in the bathroom before this!
Initially, Cady doesn’t even want to dupe the Plastics, but Janis, who wants revenge, urges Cady to infiltrate the group and particularly, to take down Regina. As Cady befriends them, Karen Smith and Gretchen fill her in on the rules including their Wednesday dress code and the no-ex-boyfriends rule. Regina’s ability to enforce these rules while not even mentioning them speaks to her gravitas as a natural-born leader. While she may be a dictator more than a leader, there is no denying that she commands attention in every room.
The no-ex-boyfriends rule is what sparks the worst in Regina once she hears that Cady likes Aaron Samuels. After Regina kisses Aaron at the Halloween party under the pretense of arranging him with Cady, the pair engage in a lengthy tete-a-tete in which Cady ruthlessly brings Regina down by taking her friends, her “hot” body, Aaron and finally, her popularity. In exchange, Regina takes Cady down by framing her, Karen, and Gretchen for the infamous Burn Book.
On the surface, Regina’s actions are callous and inflammatory. She toys with Aaron’s feelings and openly belittles her friends. When Regina throws around copies of the Burn Book in one of the movie’s most iconic scenes, she is at her most calculated yet precarious position. It’s interesting to note that this is also when Cady is at her most hated position. Everyone hates Cady because she has become the new Regina (if not worse). Having a mean-spirited personality became synonymous with Regina, disregarding her as a person of her own.
However, Regina is not naturally malicious; her upbringing contributed to that. “She did not have a family dynamic in which she was ever expected to be nice to people,” says fellow digital writer and junior Gillian Bressie. From a young age, Regina had to understand the world with minimal guidance from her parents. Bressie also adds that Regina “was conditioned to get what she wanted when she wanted it,” which explains her inability to handle Cady’s rising popularity. The deleted scene below sheds light on Regina’s childhood and her possessiveness, illustrating that Regina is not angry at Cady, but rather, she is angry at her fall from grace.
By the end of the movie, Regina is transformed. She becomes an athlete, she is no longer friends with Karen and Gretchen, and her and Cady reach some sort of a détente. Gone is the outspoken, shrewd socialite, who is now a sedated version of herself. While she certainly was not the Mother Teresa of North Shore High (Cady took that role with her “love everyone” spiel at the Spring Fling), there was something about her self-absorbed personality that made her memorable and one of the best queen bees in film to this day.
What’s the final verdict? Is Regina George on the path to sainthood or is she the devil incarnate? Frankly, neither. Regina George is just a high school junior, trying to make the most for herself in a society where women are pitted against each other in a battle of wits and beauty at an early age. But don’t take my word for it! As with every political/social issue, it’s important to do the research and form your own opinion. This Mean Girls Day, watch the movie and decide on Regina George’s place in history for yourself.