Part of the appeal of the movie is its faux naïveté. It’s a first-person story that’s filled with the interior monologue of a smart and perceptive middle-class suburban girl who’s distinguished from her classmates by the fact of never having had classmates. She was raised in Africa and home-schooled by her zoologist parents; through her eyes, the unexceptional appears strange and novel. It’s [a conceit] that depends on an anchoring star who is, in effect, the Jamesian central consciousness.
Fey drills down into the ways in which young women gain and maintain power within both the ever-shifting sands of high school popularity and the relentlessly image-obsessed culture fed to them by mass media. Mean Girls allows itself a bit of speechifying about the self-destructive impulses behind the girls’ endless name-calling and back-biting, but the most satisfying moments come when Fey allows us to see the subtle cracks in each character’s fastidiously maintained façade.