Even 15 years after its release, Mean Girls remains a teen movie staple. To this day, the internet is teeming with instantly-recognizable references to the film, from celebrations of Mean Girls Day every Oct. 3 to T-shirts emblazoned with “You can’t sit with us” and “You go, Glen Coco!” greeting cards, and a Tony-nominated Broadway musical to boot.
EW’s partners at The Take took a closer look at Tina Fey’s iconic comedy to dissect queen bee Regina George (Rachel McAdams), who her ex-best friend and bitter opponent Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) characterizes as “an evil dictator.” The platinum blonde princess in a mini skirt may not look like what you picture when you think of a dictator, but The Take found that Janis may not be too far off.
When you break down the Queen of the Plastics’ techniques of controlling her fellow North Shore High students it becomes clear just how close her reign of terror is to a textbook dictatorship, right down to her key resources as highlighted by Janis: “Her high status man candy, technically good physique, and ignorant band of loyal followers.”
Regina’s goddess-like status escalates the definition of love-hate relationships to new heights in as she is simultaneously the most envied, admired and feared figure in all of teen royalty. But unlike a legitimate monarchy, in which power is inherited, the sinister she-devil maintains a carefully-constructed regime aided by the loyal discipleship of her fellow Plastics Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert) and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried).
Watch the full video above to see how The Take outlines the three key pillars of dictatorships — legitimacy, co-optation and repression — to walk through how Regina successfully subordinates her fellow students and how protagonist Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) easily upset this delicate balance with her arrival from Africa.
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