Many films started out as books. When filmmakers are looking for sources, novels are some of the best places to find storylines and developed characters. So it’s no surprise that Tina Fey used a book as a starting point when she wrote her first screenplay – for the 2004 film. Bad girls.
But in Fey’s case, the book was not a novel. She had to do a lot of creative legwork to turn the original material into a plot that would translate on screen (and later on stage). Here’s what we know about the book that sparked this popular teen comedy.
“Mean Girls” has a lasting legacy
It’s hard to believe Bad girls is now almost 20 years old. This is because this black comedy remains a popular reference on social media and among young fans. And many stars of the film have pursued successful careers.
Rachel McAdams, who played formidable antagonist Regina George, wowed Sherlock holmes and Doctor strange. Plastics member Amanda Seyfried starred in Mom Mia! and Wretched.
And while Lindsay Lohan – who starred as Cady – saw her career take a huge hit after the film’s release, the film remains a bright spot in her work.
The film also kicked off Tina Fey’s success as a writer. Before writing the screenplay, Fey had written for Saturday Night Live.
But after the success of Bad girls, his writing career really took off. She then created and wrote for 30 Rock, The unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Mr. Mayor.
This self-help book inspired ‘Mean Girls’
Fey found inspiration for his screenplay in Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bee & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Teen Realities.
The tome was not fiction ready for the screen, Mental Floss reports. Instead, Wiseman’s work is a self-help book distilling her experiences as a high school workshop leader in counseling for parents of teenage girls.
In the book, Wiseman cautions parents not to overlook the social importance of seemingly trivial moments, like not being invited to a birthday party.
“But these are not trivial issues,” she advises, “they set the stage for girls to fake their feelings, pretend they’re someone they’re not, please others at their own expense or otherwise sacrifice self-esteem and authenticity. ”
Something funny happened when Tina Fey’s young daughter watched the movie
So, did Fey capture one of the lessons Wiseman gives in his self-help book? Well, if Fey’s daughter is any indication, maybe not.
Speaking to Seth Meyers, Fey recalled that she was then 5 years old watching rehearsals for the stage version of Bad girls and taking away “all the bad lessons”. Fey remembered that his daughter left the set and insisted that they play Mean Girls. “I am Regina. I’m yelling at you, said the girl.
Fey and Meyers laughed at the way the positive message had passed over her daughter’s head, leaving Fey with a stunned impression of what it means to be a “sassy teenager.”
That aside, the film successfully shows the toxicity of click-type behavior, and Fey’s comedic script has continued to present those lessons to generations of teenagers over the past two decades. The film’s enduring message (October 3 was even referred to as “Mean Girls Day”) suggests Bad girls will remain popular for years to come.
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