Mean Girls was distributed by Paramount Pictures, but it was produced by Broadway Video, the entertainment studio founded by Saturday Night Live's head honcho Lorne Michaels, making it the rare SNL-affiliated movie that isn't terrible.
Yeah, we went there.
Live…from the Self-Help Section
While Michaels has an unparalleled eye for comedic talent, when it comes to feature films… not so much. For every Wayne's World, there's a Coneheads, a Stuart Saves His Family, and the 1995 Razzie Award Nominee for Worst Motion Picture of the Year, It's Pat.
The big difference here, is that Mean Girls is based on a weightier source text than, say, a sketch about a portly, whiny, gender-ambiguous person that was cringe-worthy in 1995 and is downright offensive by today's standards. Rosalind Wiseman's self-help book Queen Bees and Wannabes grounds the film in truth. When it comes to the cutthroat viciousness of teenage girls, Mean Girls keeps it real.
Grow Up, MPAA
Maybe a little too real, if you ask the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Paramount Pictures had to fight for Mean Girls' PG-13 rating. Some of The Plastics' insults in the Burn Book, for example, were a little too vulgar for the MPAA board, which initially tried to slap the film with an R rating.
The MPPA were also freaked out by references to female anatomy. Oh, the horror! That's where Paramount and director Mark Waters drew the line. Waters agreed to revise some of the, uh, coarser disses in the Burn Book, but he refused to give in to the MPAA's misogyny.
Of one contested joke, Waters told the ratings board:
"You're only saying this because it's a girl, and she's talking about a part of her anatomy. There's no sexual context whatsoever, and to say this is restrictive to an audience of girls is demeaning to all women." (Source)
You go, Glenn Coco—er, Mark Waters.
With Mean Girls' riotous, unflinching observation of teenage girlhood, Paramount Pictures and Broadway Video had a bona fide box office smash on their hands, lady parts and all.