Though the original Mean Girls is a gay cult classic, it’s severely lacking in on-screen queer representation. There’s the flamboyant Damian, who is famously “almost too gay to function,” and the outcast Janis, who is heavily rumored to be a lesbian — until she inexplicably gets with a guy at the end of the movie.
But in the Mean Girls remake, queerness isn’t just implied or used as a punchline. It’s 2024, and the new movie reflects that, including the fact that Gen Z is queer as hell.
That starts, of course, with Damian, who is still as gay as ever. But Broadway actor Jaquel Spivey’s interpretation brings new nuances to the character, who now has the room to be more than a blanket gay stereotype. In Spivey’s own words, this version of Damian is “not your theater gay.”
“Queerness doesn’t have one look and one existence,” Spivey explained in an interview with Playbill. “There are a lot of queer people out here who don’t even like Broadway. That sucks for them, because they should love it — but everybody has their own thing.”
Culture, unfilteredTwice a week, our newsletter will bring you the pulse of queer culture, from the tastemakers to the groundbreakers.
Spivey also brings an irreverence and quiet confidence to Damian: he’s authentically queer, rather than performing queerness for a straight audience.
“Sometimes queer people put on the show because they know that we often entertain people with our existence,” Spivey said. “I didn’t want Damian to feel like he had to always be on and to always entertain and be like, ‘Oh hey, I’m gay. Miss thing? Boots the house down!’ That’s cute, but sometimes people don’t talk like that. I happen to be queer, and that doesn’t come with me needing to perform for you.”
This commercial is totally fetch
Damian is no longer the only explicitly queer character in Mean Girls, either. Janis is no longer rumored to be a lesbian (and viciously bullied for it) — she is a lesbian, proudly so, and though she’s still bullied, it’s not for her queerness.
This version of Janis is played by Auli’i Cravalho, best known for voicing Disney’s Moana, and the bisexual actress is pumped to bring a queer voice to the character.
“Previously, in our ’04 version, ‘lesbian’ for Janis was used kind of as a slur, and we’re taking that back. Absolutely not,” Cravalho explained in an interview with ScreenRant. “I am a pyro-lez, loud and proud. I will light your backpack on fire if you talk sh*t about me.”
Then there’s queen bee Regina George. Though this version of Regina isn’t explicitly queer like some fans had hoped, she’s an equal opportunity flirter — and she’s certainly not spouting homophobic rhetoric like her 2004 counterpart. And, of course, she’s played by bisexual icon Reneé Rapp, who infused the character with plenty of sapphic energy. Her song “Not My Fault” with Megan Thee Stallion plays over the movie’s credits, including the viral line, “Can a gay girl get an amen?” Yes, Renée. Yes you can.
The “Mean Girls” star just revealed another reason she may have left the HBO Max show, and it has fans scratching their heads.
These changes come straight from the mind of Tina Fey, who created both the original film and its modern remake. Fey knows that even the popular kids of today would have a hard time getting away with the casual homophobia of 2004’s Regina.
“I know that even Regina would know what wouldn’t fly. She’s going to find a way to inflict pain on people, but she’s not going to get herself in trouble,” Fey told The New York Times. “It was [my] feeling that Regina wouldn’t try that now because she knows the kids around her would be like, ‘That’s homophobic.’ She would know not to be homophobic, and hopefully, truly would not be homophobic.”
Mean Girls is now playing in theaters.
Help make sure LGBTQ+ stories are being told...
We can't rely on mainstream media to tell our stories. That's why we don't lock our articles behind a paywall. Will you support our mission with a contribution today?
Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated
Read More in Culture
The Latest on INTO
Subscribe to get a twice-weekly dose of queer news, updates, and insights from the INTO team.
in Your Inbox