A Generation of Mean Teen Queens

by Emery W. 

Every generation is blessed with a movie centered around a high school clique of popular girls that rule the school. The ‘80’s babies got Heathers, us ‘90’s kids were deemed worthy enough to have Clueless, the early 2000′s had Mean Girls, and this current generation has The DUFF.

When I first got wave of the movie before it came out, I looked at the cast list, and immediately brushed it off as pointless, and unworthy of my time. Boy, was I wrong. I finally got bored enough one Sunday night while twisting my hair, and decided to watch it, and I was not disappointed.

It has your general makeup of the underdog, the mean bitch, and the boy that both girls inevitably want, but what makes this one relevant for today is not only the language (yes, I am condoning the use of profanity in the film), the use of social media, and *spoiler alert* the guy gets the girl in the end, but you don’t see it coming from the beginning.

Mae Whitman plays Bianca, her two best friends’ DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), and let’s get one thing straight, Bianca is none of those things unless you compare her to her friends Jess and Casey (Skyler Samuels and Bianca Santos respectively). Both friends are completely unaware that they have placed their friend in this category. In fact, the theme of the whole movie is how a DUFF never realizes they are one. 

School stud and (shocker) captain of the football team, Wesley Rush (portrayed by Robby Amell) is the boy next door/former childhood friend who informs Bianca of her role as The DUFF, and agrees to help her break this image, and get the guy she has been crushing on for a while in exchange for some tutoring. Of course a string of mishaps and drama courtesy of resident Head Bitch/Wesley Rush’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, Madison Morgan (Bella Thorne).

Pretty typical stuff for a movie geared toward high school kids. What really makes this movie is the acting chops of young Hollywood thespians you wouldn’t expect. I’d always seen Bella Thorne as the ditzy character she played in Disney Channel’s Shake It Up, and while Madison is superficial and devious, she is true current-day mean girl, equipped with her own side kick, and largely followed social media platform. Bella Thorne does an immaculate job with the character, and while she’s no Regina George, she’s a pretty close second.

The next shocker of the movie is Robby Amell. I’m not going to lie, I knew I’d seen him in other things before as the cute guy that the girl falls for, but never a memorable performance. Until this one. I guess the 25-year-old in me wasn’t expecting the array of penis jokes, and all-around sexualization of the character, but I guess if I have to grow up, actors do too.

Mae Whitman’s Bianca is a mix of Ellen Page’s Juno, and Emma Stone’s Olive of Easy A, and she is every high school awkward kid’s spirit animal. Her come-to-Jesus moment, courtesy of her two best friends, and mostly unavailable mother played by Allison Janney. Add in the teacher that’s rooting for the underdog (Ken Jeong), and you have Mean Girls revamped without anyone getting hit by a bus, and instead of a Burn Book, you’ve got YouTube.

So who knows, maybe I’m biased because I went through puberty, and even still rely on Mean Girls to guide me through the rough times, and finding something that can almost match up to what has now become a cult classic makes me really excited. `