“On Wednesdays We Wear Pink”: The Best Girl Cliques of Pop Culture

meangirls

Paramount

1. The Plastics – Mean Girls

Mean Girls certainly wasn’t the first movie to put a girl clique at the front and centre of the action, but it was the first (unless you count Heathers) to blatantly shine a spotlight on the politics and psychological tactics needed to keep a girl clique up and running – think intimidation, bitchy three-way phone conversations, keeping secrets, burn books and rigid rules around dress and behaviour. That’s because Tina Fey’s screenplay was based on Rosalind Wiseman’s self-help book Queen Bees and Wannabes. The result was comedy gold that often cut a little too close to the bone.

Hierarchy: Janis’ observation that “evil takes a human form in Regina George” wasn’t far off the mark when she described the school’s resident queen bee and if Mean Girls was Game of Thrones, Gretchen Wieners would totally be the hand of the queen. In fact, when there was disturbance in the realm with Regina’s “army of skanks”, Gretchen used another old world battle analogy to vent her frustration: “Why should Caesar get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What’s so great about Caesar? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar. OK, Brutus is just as smart as Caesar. People totally like Brutus just as much as they like Caesar. And when did it become OK for one person to be the boss of everybody, huh? Because that’s not what Rome is about! We should totally just stab Caesar!” Karen Smith would be, like, the queen’s servant girl, or something.

Dress Code: The Plastics wore pink on Wednesdays, they couldn’t wear sweatpants on a Monday and let’s not forget how Gretchen was forbidden from wearing gold hoops. Offences were punishable with banishment from their lunch table.

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Five Reasons Why Elaine Benes is Queen of the Castle

Julia Louis-Dreyfus recently posed naked on the cover of Rolling Stone with the Constitution printed on her back (no nipples were exposed, though).

From all accounts, the interview she gave to Rolling Stone was apparently pretty awesome. When asked about sexism in Hollywood, she responded by saying, ‘There is sexism…I’m not denying its existence. But I’m saying that I will deny its effort against me. I just pay it no nevermind and say, ‘Get out of my way’’. Right there is yet another reason why you gotta looooooooooove the Dreyfus!

Photo: Twitter @OfficialJLD

Photo: Twitter @OfficialJLD

It is this same gusto that she brought to the iconic role of Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes, a character that epitomises what we mean when we talk about strong, independent women of the ‘90s… and today, in fact. In 2014, we can still hold Elaine up as an – admittedly dubious in some aspects – role model.

I mean, sure, she wasn’t really all about the sisterhood, preferring coffee shop lunches with the boys to Sex and the City-like brunches (at which she probably wouldn’t be caught dead), and trying to one-up Sue Ellen Mischke. And she wasn’t always the nicest person in the world, becoming more hardened, jaded and apathetic as the series progressed. However, there were plenty of other qualities that, to this day, make her the queen of the castle.

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What a Girl Wants: The Best Love Triangles in Pop Culture

One of my favourite chick lit authors, Lindsey Kelk, is set to release her latest book What a Girl Wants this July. What a Girl Wants is the sequel to About a Girl, a story about Tess Brookes that ends with a ‘who will she choose?’ cliffhanger. The men in question are her best friend Charlie, the object of her unrequited love for the past decade, and the arrogant and hot Nick Miller, the man she’s known for one thrilling, sexy week.

While we wait to see who Tess will choose (cough, Nick please, cough), it got me thinking about other ‘who will she choose?’ scenarios in pop culture, so here is my completely biased list of the best love triangles (from the ’90s through to today, of course).

Bridget, Mark and Daniel – Bridget Jones’s Diary
Before Lindsey Kelk, there was Helen Fielding – one of the masters of the chick lit genre. As we all know, the film adaptation starred Renee Zellwegger as the title character, Colin Firth as Mark Darcy and Hugh Grant as Darcy’s nemesis Daniel Cleaver. Is it completely wrong for me to go with skirt chaser Daniel here? It goes against my pattern of backing the ‘nice guy’ in these situations (with the exception of About a Girl’s Nick Miller), but Hugh Grant, in my book, trumps the nice guy any day. I still swoon every time I hear him say, ‘That’s an order Jones’. Swoon.

 

bridgetjones


Kelly, Brandon and Dylan – Beverly Hills 90210

Most of you would probably say that the more famous and better love triangle of Beverly Hills 90210 was the one between Kelly, Brenda and Dylan, and I would totally agree with you. After all, that love triangle gave us one of the best lines from the whole ten years of Beverly Hills 90210 put together. Remember when Brenda caught Kelly and Dylan out on a date, and Kelly defended herself when Brenda called her a bimbo? Brenda’s classic comeback went as follows: ‘Well Kelly, I was always taught that if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…’ Oh. May. Zing.

However, we’re talking about the ‘who will she choose?’ scenario here, so let’s bring it back to Kelly’s love triangle with the other Walsh twin. At first, Kelly did a Samantha Jones and chose herself when faced with an ultimatum between Beverly Hills’s bad boy and nice guy, but the pull of the troubled bad boy was ultimately too strong for Kelly to resist. Alas, Brandon ended up being no match for the ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ Dylan.

This love triangle was revisited years later in an advertisement for Old Navy. Dylan and Brandon’s props – a motorcycle and a teddy bear – played into the classic bad boy vs nice guy stereotypes brilliantly, but neither were enough to entice Kelly, who this time ended up choosing jeans. I stick to my choice of Brandon 4EVA. Da-na-na-na, da-na-na-na!

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Being an Age Chameleon

“There is no greater joy than being part of a group reciting the entire theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in perfect unison”.

I was born in 1981. Two weeks ago, I turned 32-years-old. That means I’m 3 years and 351 days off what Sex and the City’s Carrie and Miranda would call my “scary age” of 36. It also means that I am on the Generation X to Y cusp.

After doing some research that entailed watching the generation feature on Channel 10’s The Project a few months ago and  looking up a couple of articles on that entirely accurate information hub Wikipedia, Australian Gen X-ers are typically defined as those born between 1963 and 1980, and Gen Y-ers from 1981 to 2000. If someone calls me a Gen X-er, I usually deny it, because everyone wants to seem younger, right? I also don’t see myself as sharing a common upbringing with those born in the 1960s and I was too young to really register anyone before John Howard as the Prime Minister, let alone identify with Winona Ryder in that quintessential Gen X-er movie Reality Bites, which was released in 1994, or realise just how pretentious the movie really was (am I right?) Around that time, I was the target audience for Sister Act 2, rather than for Dangerous Minds.

 

Then again, I vividly remember New Year’s Eve 2000 as an 18-year-old wearing a hanky top (remember those?) and finally getting legally drunk on Stollys, and to think that I belong to a generation including people who were just being born in 2000 seems just as far-fetched. I mean, J.Lo released ‘Waiting for Tonight’ for the millennium, and I still think that was about 5 years ago. The fact that it was 14 years ago makes my mind want to implode.

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Ja’mie Bares All… or Nothing: My Final Say About Ja’mie: Private School Girl

After weeks of speculating about Ja’mie’s fate – will she get her comeuppance? Will she see the error of her ways? Will her mother finally crack? What will happen between her and Kwami? Will she, in fact, learn nothing at all? – Chris Lilley served up a smorgasboard of outcomes for the private school girl we love to loathe. The multiple endings presented by Lilley in the final episode of Ja’mie: Private School Girl threw up many contradictions and that’s perhaps why it’s taken me so long to gather my thoughts and write this article. My head is still spinning, to be honest.

But here I go.

Photo credit: ABC1

Photo credit: ABC1

Lilley’s final episode simultaneously strove to please everyone by covering all bases, yet still, in many ways, pleased no one due to its lack of real change in Ja’mie – and perhaps that was the point. Madeleine Ryan’s article in The Age rightly pointed out that the series presented a parody of the unrealistic expectations society placed on young women to succeed so, subsequently, they became monsters. In Ja’mie’s words, she had to be “quiche”, “demonstrate Christian values and be good at everything”, not be a “full slut”, have a “box gap”, and “work at stopping child slavery and healing people and stuff like that”. The series, like its title character, couldn’t please everyone. That seemed to be one of the points it, and she, was trying to make in this interesting final episode.

Ja’mie, in failing to receive the coveted Hillford medal due to a leaked video of a Skype conversation between her and Kwami, in which she revealed her breasts while Kwami fondled himself, caused her father to concede that Ja’mie, by having her mother Jhyll’s genes as well as his own, wasn’t going to be a consistently high achiever after all. Jhyll’s silence as she sat next to her husband spoke volumes.

Ja’mie, however, responded to criticism and failure by making herself seen and heard. She states to her mother before her graduation ceremony, “No one fucks with me and gets away with it”. She means it. She hi-jacks the ceremony by playing the controversial Skype video while telling the audience, “I chose to expose my breasts on Skype in front of the boy I love. Because I chose to have an interracial relationship, the leaders of this school have decided to silence me”.

Photo credit: ABC1

Photo credit: ABC1

She then leads her pack of friends in a choreographed strip tease to the graduation song ‘Learning to Be Me’, where she takes off her bra after telling the audience, “Get your tits out girls, unite, no matter how big your tits are, get them out”.

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