Although Mean Girls and Clueless came out about a decade apart from each other (the former in 2004 and the latter in 1995), the two teen comedies have a lot in common. They’re both about makeovers, they’re both about high school being one big popularity contest, and they’re both popular films with loyal fan bases.
Let’s take a look at what each film does better. Here are five things that Mean Girls does better than Clueless, along with five reasons that Clueless is actually the better movie.
10 Mean Girls: The High School As Jungle Metaphor
People always say that if you “peak in high school” then you’re going to find adulthood pretty tough, as the real world isn’t anything like what’s inside a school’s hallfways. Mean Girls does a great job of examining what it’s really like to be a teenager and the movie has a metaphor of high school being a jungle.
When Cady goes to the mall with The Plastics, she examines all of the teens there as animals, and it’s total chaos. Cady says, “Being at Old Orchard Mall kind of reminded me of being home in Africa by the watering hole when the animals are in heat.” It’s a hilarious way of looking at this time in everyone’s lives, and it’s a unique and great part of the movie.
9 Clueless: The Opening Sequence
If you wanted to simply watch the opening sequence of Clueless, you would feel like you had just had a movie watching experience. As the song “Kids In America” by The Muffs plays, Cher talks about “having a way normal life for a teenage girl” and viewers get a glimpse into that amazing (and stylish) life. Cher also shows the audience her fabulous closet, which any girl would dream of having.
While Mean Girls is a great movie, the opening is fairly typical of a teen film as Lindsay Lohan’s character Cady Heron starts going to a regular school. Based on the opening sequence of each movie, Clueless is definitely the better movie.
8 Mean Girls: The Amazing Quotes
“Is butter a carb?” and “Stop trying to make fetch happen!” are just two of the amazing quotes from Mean Girls. Although Clueless does have classic lines such as “As if!” it’s fair to say that more people quote Mean Girls than they do Cher and her pals.
The ditzy-yet-clever lines of dialogue from the Lindsay Lohan-starring movie are just too good, and they seem to fit almost every situation. There are also a whole bunch of memes that prove how loved and famous these quotes are.
7 Clueless: The Makeover
While Cady gets a makeover in Mean Girls and accidentally becomes a crazy person who only cares about herself and her new so-called friends, it’s safe to say that the makeover scenes in Clueless are actually a lot better.
Sure, it’s fun to watch Cady, but many fans love Mean Girls because of Regina George, Karen Smith, and Gretchen Wieners (aka The Plastics). Those characters are a lot more interesting (and a lot more hilarious… and the ones who have gotten memes). Tai’s makeover in Clueless is brilliantly done and a lot of screen time is devoted to the clothing, makeup, speech and social lessons that Cher gives her. It’s a true joy to watch.
6 Mean Girls: Looking At Popularity
Of course Clueless is, as its core, about popularity, but there’s just something about the way that Mean Girls talks about this subject. It’s something that the 2004 movie does a lot better.
The contrast between Cady’s real and true friends Janis Ian and Damian and her fake friends Regina, Karen, and Gretchen is pretty striking. The movie makes it super clear that being popular isn’t a great idea and can turn you into a truly awful person. The movie also makes you never, ever want to be popular or well liked since it can really do a number on your self-esteem.
5 Clueless: The Romance
Yeah, it’s kind of cute when Cady has a crush on Aaron Samuels… but honestly, it’s not the draw of the film, or the main focus. When it comes to romance, Clueless is the better movie.
There are many great relationships in this ’90s film, from Dionne and Murray’s long-term romance to Cher and Josh’s eventual pairing up. These love stories are a big part of the movie and add another layer. Otherwise, it would just be a lot of clothing talk and Cher going “As if!”
4 Mean Girls: The Clique
Could any movie clique be better than The Plastics? Okay, that was definitely a rhetorical question.
While Cher, Dionne, and Amber are popular along with Elton and some of the other guys, there isn’t really a clique in Clueless. No one rules the school or makes other people feel super bad or seems to make popularity and insults the name of the game. Mean Girls makes The Plastics out to be the villains and they are really scary since they judge everyone around them (hence the name of the film, of course).
3 Clueless: The Fashion
Hands down, Clueless beats Mean Girls when it comes to fashion. Sure, it’s cute to see The Plastics all wearing pink and various preppy clothing, and they have tons of rules for what they can wear each day of the week.
Cher and her friends wear iconic clothing, like the plaid outfits that Cher and Dionne are known for, and these outfits make the movie super special.
2 Mean Girls: Clever Observations
Teachers are real people, being uncool is literally the coolest thing that anyone could do, and let’s just be nice. These are all life lessons that Mean Girls teaches its audience, and they’re all clever observations.
Mean Girls does this a lot better than Clueless since the latter follows Cher’s story without necessarily imparting a lot of wisdom to the audience. But Mean Girls makes you feel like you’re getting a crash course education in why you don’t want popularity to be your life (and why being out of high school is great).
1 Clueless: Cher’s Character Arc
Cady does learn to be a better person by the end of Mean Girls, and it feels like most people at the high school do, too. It’s definitely therapeutic for everyone.
But Cher has a better character arc, which ultimately makes Clueless the better movie of the two teen comedies. She really does learn the error of her ways and figures out the secret to happiness is treating people well and forgetting about how other people see you.
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