All right, let’s get one thing straight: I love Mean Girls just as much as the next person, but if I were forced to pick one to save for posterity and one to ban from mankind for eternity, I’d save She’s the Man for several reasons.
Both movies are insanely quotable, hilarious, and iconic 2000s teen comedies. They have a lot in common, such as the girl in a new school, the gay BFF, clueless parents, glorious eye candy, turf wars, someone leading a double life, and snappy comebacks I can use on people who piss me off. Since the films were released only two years apart, they tend to get grouped together, but here’s why I believe She’s the Man is actually better.
For starters, I have way more respect for the storyline. All Viola Hastings (Amanda Bynes) wants to do is “kick a muddy ball around a field all day,” but she can’t because the patriarchy had to go and ruin that, too. So what does she do? She’s forced to become a man just to prove a point and win one for equality.
And why is she forced to become her twin brother Sebastian (James Kirk) at the school Illyria? Because her own school, Cornwall, cut the girls soccer team and refused to let them try out for the boys team. The dad from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (Robert Torti), who plays Cornwall’s coach, even flat out says, “But girls aren’t as fast as boys. Or as strong. Or as athletic. This is not me talking. It’s a scientific fact. Girls can’t beat boys. It’s as simple as that,” like some kind of misogynistic Dr. Seuss.
Plus, add in Viola’s pig of a (now ex-) boyfriend Justin (Robert Hoffman), and you feel like you’re at some anti-feminist convention with those people you still don’t know why you’re friends with on Facebook. Seriously, can we get Matt McGorry up in here to school these guys?!
Not even 10 minutes into the film and we’re already sighing and groaning at men in general. And while it wasn’t the most orthodox way to get on a soccer team, Viola was still successful in her plight to bash the patriarchy and she definitely won the Creative Award for her efforts.
Viola had to hide who she was from practically everyone: the homeboys and staff at Illyria, her parents, the snooty debutante ball gals, and clueless McGee Olivia Lennox (Laura Ramsey), to name a few. She was leading a double life to try and make a point about gender equality. Mean Girls protagonist Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan)’s double life was to trick The Plastics into divulging their secrets in order to destroy them. See the difference?
Cady’s agenda was setting women back, inadvertently supporting the “women are shrews” stereotype, which certainly isn’t admirable. I’m all for righting wrongs done to a person, but Cady made it her mission to annihilate Regina George (Rachel McAdams) and all who associated with the mean girl. Viola, on the other hand, wanted to right the injustice done to her and her female friends, but she didn’t want to hurt anyone in the process.
Moreover, one of the biggest red flags from Mean Girls not found in She’s the Man is that it took getting hit by a bus for Regina to finally start being nice to people. That’s a tad drastic, don’t you think? In She’s the Man, Viola just had to flash some people and come clean about her agenda before men (but not Justin, because again, he’s a pig) accepted her for who she was and what she wanted in life.
Viola didn’t need to do any sabotaging or low blows to achieve her goal, which is inspiring. She saw an opportunity to prove a point and took it, and she didn’t need to bring every single person down with her while she did it. Now, that’s a movie message I can get behind 100 percent.
Side note: Who in their right mind could forget an entire scene in She’s the Man was devoted to Gouda cheese? An entire scene, people. It wasn’t even boring or out of place, but instead worked perfectly with the film’s flow (“See? We’re flowing.”). It was completely original, and I bet you anything people have tried using “Do you like cheese?” as an opening line on someone.
Takeaways from Mean Girls:
1. Don’t trust anyone with your secrets until you’re 100 percent certain they won’t betray you.
2. Girls are awful. Some can be super awesome, but most are big ol’ meany, meany poop faces.
3. In order for someone to finally be a nice person, they have to get hit by a bus.
4. Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett) does, in fact, look sexy with his hair pushed back.
Takeaways from She’s the Man:
1. Girls can do anything boys can do and many times can do it even better.
2. Never give up what you love just because people want you to do something more in line with your gender. Eff your gender norms.
3. “Do you like cheese?” is an acceptable opening line.
4. Duke Orsino (Channing Tatum) is smokin’ hot and the shirtless scenes are thoroughly appreciated.