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The parents, or parental roles, in your typical teen movie almost always serve the same purpose: they are there either to nag their children endlessly, trying to dissuade them from partaking in typical teenage behaviour, or they are completely oblivious to their children and their struggles. Most teen movie parents could be plucked from one film and dropped straight into another and nobody would bat an eyelid.
But every now and then there is a character who stands out against the rest, and few have stood out like Amy Poehler’s Mean Girls character Mrs George, Regina’s rather interesting (to say the least) mother. Even Olive’s eccentric and laid back parents Rosemary and Dill in Easy A have nothing on Mrs George. She certainly made a statement and 10 years later she’s still widely viewed as quite a controversial parent as far as teen movies go.
Mrs George and Regina may not have that close mother/daughter bond like characters such as Lorelai and Rory had in drama series Gilmore Girls for example, the kind of relationship that so many of us craved as teenagers, but despite this and despite her “alternative” attitude to parenting, I happen to think Mrs George is a pretty great parent.
Unlike the parents in most teen movies Mrs George is always around, at times it may be in an overbearing and interfering way which she accepts when Regina tells her so, but regardless of that the fact is she is always there for her daughter and her friends. She instantly welcomes Cady into their home, telling her that if she, or any of the other girls, ever need anything she will be there for them, in her own words she’s “not like a regular Mom”.
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The only other parents in Mean Girls are Cady’s parents, who she appears to be close to when they first move back to the USA, but soon grows apart from as she becomes one Regina’s minions and shows a complete lack of interest in her parents or their life in Africa. The parents of any of the other main characters: Gretchen, Karen, Janis, Aaron and Damien are never seen, or at least never identified. The girls are all shown getting ready for the Spring Fling on their own, except for Regina who is helped by her mother who also follows her to the dance and photographs her daughter. The same thing happens on Halloween, although Cady’s mother does help her with her zombie ex-wife costume, Mrs George is by far the most supportive, encouraging Regina and taking photos of her in her bunny girl outfit – much to the despair of Mr George!
All through our teens most of us were subject to those famous words from our parents:
“I remember what it was like to be your age!”
And to this day we all swear we will be nothing like our parents if and when we have children of our own.
However, unlike most teen movie parents, and a lot of real life teen parents, who simply ground their children for misbehaving instead of talking to them about it, or who flat out ban their teenage sons and daughters from doing something thinking it will stop them, Mrs George does seem to actually remember what it was like to be 16 and is able to understand and empathise with what Regina and co are going through.
She also understands the “golden rule” so to speak when it comes to teenagers:
The more you tell them not to do something, the more likely they are to do it.
Mrs George knows that the more you tell teenagers not to do something or ban them from doing something they are more likely they are to rebel, so instead of trying to ban things such as alcohol and sex, she allows it to happen in a safe environment.
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When Cady enquires as to whether the cocktails have alcohol in them Mrs George’s immediate reaction is “no, what kind of mother do you think I am?” but this is swiftly followed by her asking Cady if she wants some because she’d rather the girls drink in the house. She knows that if she outright bans drink, they will only find another way to get their hands on it, as is evidenced in the Halloween and house party scenes later on in the film, but at least in the house she knows what they have drunk and that they are safe.
She shows the same attitude towards sex, as is evidenced in what has become one of the most famous scenes in the whole film. After Regina and Aaron have broken up and Regina has got together with Shane Oman the two are seen getting it on in Regina’s bedroom when her mom walks in and asks if they need anything like snacks or condoms.
This scene has been met with much criticism over the years for showing a parent so openly accepting of their teenage daughter having sex, however it is also the only point in the entire film where anything close to useful or accurate sex ed is given. Whilst the school health classes are trying to teach kids that abstinence is the answer and that if they do have sex they will either get pregnant or get Chlamydia (and die), Mrs George knows it is pointless and that “teenagers will be teenagers”. Even if she bans them from having sex they will still find a place to do it, be it in the back of a car, at a house party or pretty much anywhere they can find.
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So whilst Mrs George is certainly seen as one of the most outrageous within the teen movie genre she is also one of the best and most caring parents as well, with Regina and her friends’ health, safety and general wellbeing one of her primary concerns, as well as having an avid interest in what is going on in their lives. She lets her daughter live her life as she wishes, offering her support, snacks and contraception along the way, and in the world of teenagers and teen movies you can’t say much fairer than that!