When it comes to successfully presenting school cliques and how American youths seem to produce many stereotype personalities, there’s one film we always watch for that: Mean Girls. The 2004 film stars Lindsay Lohan as Cody, a homeschooled girl who grew up in Africa. When their family went back home to the US, she began to experience a whole new jungle that’s far worse than harsh African setups: the American high school.
In her school, there’s a clique named The Plastics. They’re the prettiest but snottiest trio of girls. Either you love them to bits or hate them to death. Cody initially befriends a couple of smart and witty outsiders of cliques. But later, The Plastics get interested in luring her into their clique. And that’s when the real urban jungle safari begins!
This hilarious film is now regarded as a classic among many young people who grew up during this time. But there are more movies like Mean Girls that also tackle this high school set-up of cliques, social hierarchies, and some form out outcast student trying/not trying to fit in. Check out our list!
1. Princess Diaries
When it comes to exploring social hierarchies in high school, The Princess Diaries added a special stereotype to the mix: a princess. No, not just a diva-like princess, but an actual princess of a kingdom!
The 2001 film centers on the teen character of Mia Thermopolis, one of those socially awkward and unpopular high schoolers being raised by a single mom. She gets the surprise of her life one day, though, when her “absentee” father’s mother suddenly drops in town for a visit.
It turns out that this absentee father recently died. It also turns out that he is a crown prince of a small European country. And Mia’s very regal grandma is the queen of this country! So technically, that makes her a real princess. Due to tradition, Mia has to ascend to the crown eventually since her father died. Preparations for that went on their secret way.
Now this is where the princess story becomes one of those movies like Mean Girls. In Mia’s high school, she is despised by the snobby popular girls. Her best friend is a fellow smart social outcast. But when her being a princess was revealed in the media, everyone in her school started to treat her differently.
How do you think these social hierarchies would play out, now that there is a bona fide princess in their midst? Watch this film to find out!
2. House Bunny
What if you’re a grown adult who wants to go back to school, since you saw “your kind” there? Then prepare for a funny Greek-lettered story called House Bunny.
Released in 2008, the film features the story of Shelley, a late twenties woman who works as a glamorous Playboy bunny and happily lives at the Playboy Mansion. So of course, you can imagine which of the typical stereotypes she is.
But other bunnies might have been jealous of her. Shelley finds a note one day, stating that she is no longer an official Playboy Bunny. So she leaves the mansion devastated and directionless. But things perk up again as she saw glamorous members of a sorority named Phi Iota Mu. Since she thinks she found “her tribe,” she tried joining them.
But the girls of Phi Iota Mu are snobbish, and rejects her. Can you see now why this film is on our list of movies like Mean Girls? It’s full of these kinds of social hierarchies, housed inside sorority setups.
She stumbles onto another sorority named Zeta Alpha Zeta. The members here are mostly socially awkward, so of course they can’t attract boys much. Shelley gets in here as their “house mother.” When they see that Shelley can easily attract boys, they absorb her fully, and Shelley makes them over. Watch this film to find out what happens next!
3. Pitch Perfect
Another college-level story on our list is the harmoniously happy 2012 film called Pitch Perfect. If you want to see different student stereotype blending together through song, then this is the film for you.
Set within the confines of Barden University, we find our protagonist, freshman Beca, reluctantly attending college since her father teaches there. She’s a nearly-goth chick who’s just chill, and aspires to become a music DJ and music producer in Los Angeles.
Barden U is known as the home of a cappella groups, some of which are sworn enemies of each other. There’s the all-boy group The Treblemakers who keep on winning a cappella championships, and they’re obnoxious about it. There’s the all-girl group Barden Bellas who nearly won a championship if their leader didn’t vomit due to anxiety while performing!
Beca doesn’t know the Bellas’ history, but she gets recruited by one of them after hearing her sing inside their dorm shower. Since it’s also music, Bela reluctantly agrees to join. In her spare time, she interns at the university’s radio station where she befriends a Treblemaker who also works there.
This film is already a certified classic of this genre. And even though it’s college, there’s a certain vibe about it which qualifies it as one of those movies like Mean Girls. For instance, Beca is not the typical Bella that their head looks for. She wants a more “dignified” group, but their past a cappella booboo prohibits them from recruiting the members they want. So they end up with an eclectic membership – and you have to see the movie to hear them well!
4. The Edge of Seventeen
What if your own school’s social hierarchies get reflected and replicated at home? Then you’d have to deal with it day in and day out. This is basically the plot of the movie called The Edge of Seventeen.
This 2016 coming of age film counts as one of those movies like Mean Girls because the protagonist here also feels persecuted by stereotypes and social hierarchies. The not-so-sociable high schooler named Nadine suffers from a bout of depression as a result of the anxieties that she feels about these set-ups.
It starts with her home. Nadine is very close to her father, but he died of a heart attack. Her mother is very preoccupied with body images issues, something reminiscent of popular girls in school. Her older brother is a popular student in his class. So of course, the image-conscious mother and the popular son in school seem to team up more, making Nadine feel left out.
It’s a good thing Nadine has a best friend. But things change even more when they attend a certain party. Then there’s the existence of other high schoolers who always compare her to her brother. So of course, in those comparisons, she’s the biggest loser. It’s interesting to see where this storyline goes. Go watch it to find out.
5 Bring It On
What if the social hierarchies of high schools became a school vs. school affair? Then you have to see Bring It On for that.
This 2000 teen flick is on our list of movies like Mean Girls because it bumps up the hierarchies fight on a more socially relevant level. The movie tells of cheerleader Torrance’s new senior year role as the new cheerleading captain in her San Diego high school. But her reign is beset by many errors of the past captain that she soon discovers.
It’s obvious that theirs is a school that’s got more leeway when it comes to resources and finances. Torrance is aware of that, and tries to recruit new members for their team. She’s hell-bent on defending their championship title at the annual cheerleading competition. But when their new unlikely not-the-cheerleader-type recruit, a transfer student from Los Angeles named Missy, points out to her that their cheers are not original, this causes quite a stir.
Not only are their cheers unoriginal, but they’re copies of a great Los Angeles cheerleading team composed of African-American members from East Compton. So this battle now becomes somewhat class-based, and the story gets really interesting from that point forward. Go check it out!
6. Cruel Intentions
If it’s social hierarchies of upper elite proportions you’re interested in, then make sure to catch the 1991 film Cruel Intentions.
Its story focuses on teenagers living in New York, attending a Manhattan prep school. Snobbishly rich Kathryn and her promiscuous ladies’ man of a stepbrother, Sebastian, make a wager about certain school personalities that are stereotypes of their own. Their price? If Sebastian loses, his stepsister gets his vintage Jaguar car. If Kathryn loses, she will let Sebastian have sex with her.
Yes, this is a very sexually laden film, that’s why it’s an interesting addition to the movies like Mean Girls list. The mean step-siblings here orchestrate the lives of certain personalities: a self-confessed virgin, Annette, who vowed not to have sex until she gets married. Kathryn and Sebastian’s bet involves breaking up this vow.
Other personalities make this story very interesting. There’s naïve teenager Cecile being “teamed up” with the devious Kathryn, the closeted gay jock Greg, and other adults that also figure in the story. Go watch it to see what happens!
7. Legally Blonde
Talk about social outcasts because you’re the popular college girl who doesn’t seem to belong in an Ivy league college for higher learning – according to your boyfriend. What if the blonde proves that she ain’t dumb, but legally smart? Then this film is for you: Legally Blonde.
This 2001 film is now hailed as a classic because it turns social hierarchies and stereotypes upside down. The film features Reese Witherspoon as Elle, a seemingly ditzy-looking Beverly Hills-rich type of sorority leader whose major is in fashion.
Elle expects her uppity boyfriend to propose to her come their college graduation. But it turns out that he’s ditching her because he’s being groomed to enter Harvard Law School by his uppity parents. Having Elle as a girlfriend doesn’t match the Ivy League persona he wanted, so this crushes Elle.
Elle then tries to win him back in the smartest way possible – she tries to enter Harvard Law School herself, to try to win back her guy. But once there, the once popular among the college cliques becomes a social pariah. Law students seem to look at her as a dumb blonde.
What do you think happens next? With a very witty script and a formidable story, find out for yourself why this film truly belongs in this list of movies like Mean Girls!
8. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
What if the social hierarchy is being played by a newcomer who goes head-on with certain student types in her new school? Add Broadway ambition to that and you’ll get the film Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.
The 2004 film stars Lindsay Lohan as Lola, a teen who’s aspiring to become a Broadway performer. That’s easy to dream since she grew up in New York City. But plans change when her whole family makes a move and transplant themselves from the Big Apple towards New Jersey. Will her dreams get transplanted as well?
Well, not really. She tries to hone her acting chops in the new school, and tries out for the school play. This is when the most popular girl in school becomes her enemy, since they both vie for the same role. But yes, the new girl wins it.
It’s interesting that Lindsay Lohan stars in one of those movies like Mean Girls, her other movie. It’s an interesting study of how she portrays such characters. In this one, the story is simpler than Mean Girls, but it’s still worth watching. And oh yeah, her nemesis popular girl is played by Megan Fox. So that should make for an interesting showdown. Don’t miss it!
What if the protagonist was the mean one, who goes against many odds just to win a high school election? Well, then the 1999 film Election is perfect for you.
Its story is reminiscent of movies like Mean Girls because the high school stereotypes her are well-developed. Even though there are fewer types shown, their development is equally rich and the story is as engaging.
The film is about the very sexually liberated student named Tracy, who’s also such an overachiever. She’s at odds with a certain teacher in-charge of school election goings-on. Tracy runs for student body president, and her teacher Jim disapproves of her candidacy. Jim knows that Tracy has a secret manipulative side, that’s why he doesn’t like her.
So what does Jim do? Well, he was able to convince a popular jock guy to run against Tracy. Since he is such a popular guy already, his win is a sure thing. But then, the jock’s lesbian sister also tries to run out of spite, as her ex-girlfriend hooked up with her jock brother!
Go watch this crazy dark comedy film to see just where Tracy’s very determined path leads her.
If you want quirky movies like Mean Girls, then nothing could be quirkier than Wes Anderson’s independent film called Rushmore.
The 1998 film is about a teenager named Max Fischer. He’s an overly enthusiastic teen studying in an all-boys private school named Rushmore Academy. Because he is very eccentric, he has earned some not-so-okay reputation with several school officials, particularly the headmaster. Of course his fellow classmates shun him because they see his self-confidence as misplaced.
Max preoccupies his school life with establishing and maintaining so many extracurricular clubs and things. This is why his scholastic records become dismal. Things get more complicated when he later befriends the dad of his schoolmate, and they both fall in love with a new female teacher in school.
Watch the Anderson genius stroke all over this film, and you’re sure to be entertained!