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Regina George (Rachel McAdams)
She may only be a junior, but Regina George rules North Shore High. She's an intimidating trendsetter who's treated like a celebrity by her classmates. Don't believe us? Just ask the student body:
JANIS: Regina George. How do I ever begin to explain Regina George?
EMMA: Regina George is flawless
LEA: She has two Fendi purses and a silver Lexus.
TIM: I hear her hair's insured for $10,000.
AMBER: I hear she does car commercials in Japan.
KRISTEN: Her favorite movie is Varsity Blues.
GISELLE: One time, she met John Stamos on a plane.
JESSICA: And he told her she was pretty.
BETHANY: One time, she punched me in the face. It was awesome.
Her peers worship her, or at least they worship who they think she is. You'll notice that everything they share about her in the intro above is either about material goods or is a rumor.
There's nothing of any substance there because none of Regina's classmates really know her…and we get the sense that she prefers it that way.
Maybe they focus on the outside because the inside is black and rotten. Regina is a master manipulator; it's a large part of why Gretchen and Karen follow her around like two lost puppies. It's how she wins Aaron back at the Halloween party, too—a dastardly deed that inspires Cady's extensive revenge plot with Janis and Damian.
Take a look at how it all goes down. It's a long-ish exchange, but it shows Regina's mastery of manipulation in full force. When she finds out that Aaron personally invited Cady to the party, Regina has to think quick:
REGINA: Well, be careful because she has a huge crush on you.
AARON: Really? How do you know?
Again, Regina is thrown for a moment, then recovers.
REGINA: Because she told me. She tells everybody. It's kind of cute, actually. She's like a little girl. She, like, writes all over her notebook "Mrs. Aaron Samuels." And she made this T-shirt that says "I heart Aaron," and she wears it under all her clothes. […] Well, who can blame her? I mean, you're gorgeous. And, okay, look: I'm not saying she's a stalker, but she saved this Kleenex you used, and she said she's gonna do some kind of African voodoo with it to make you like her.
Cady waves excitedly from across the party.
REGINA: I know she's kind of socially retarded and weird, but she's my friend, so just promise me you won't make fun of her.
AARON: Of course I'm not gonna make fun of her.
Regina kisses Aaron. Cady runs out. Aaron pushes Regina away.
It's slimy, but it works. Regina completely throws Cady under the bus, doubling down when she realizes Aaron's interested in Cady, too.
We can't say for certain, but it sure seems like that fact is precisely what sends Regina's manipulation into hyper-drive; she starts complimenting Aaron, and she goes so far as to say that Cady's going to make Aaron like her using boogers and voodoo.
The thing is, it works. That's how good Regina is. She knows exactly how to hook Aaron, and over the course of a brief kitchen conversation, they're a couple again. Cady's heartbroken, but she probably shouldn't have trusted Regina to put in a good word for her with Aaron in the first place.
After all, Regina started talking circles around Cady almost from the moment they first met:
REGINA: But you're, like, really pretty.
CADY: Thank you.
REGINA: So you agree.
REGINA: You think you're really pretty.
CADY: Oh, I don't know.
Regina essentially gets Cady to say that she thinks she's pretty, and before Cady can figure out what's happening, Regina's on to the next item of business. She may be conniving, but one thing's for sure: Regina George has a way with words. If only she'd use it for good sometimes, like in her English class, student government, or maybe an evil bake sale.
When Regina meets Cady, she takes her on like a project. She attempts to mold her in her own image, and it works—at least at first. Cady begins dressing like Regina, styling herself like Regina, and even talking like Regina, but Cady turns into a threat to Regina when she begins to usurp her popularity.
If that sounds like something out of a historical drama with kings and queens and palace intrigue, it's because it is like that. Regina's queen bee at North Shore, and when Cady takes her place by turning her closest allies against her and throwing a massive party at her castle—er, we mean house—without inviting Regina, Regina knows she's been deposed.
Check out what she says to Shane on their way to crash Cady's party:
REGINA: She think she's gonna have a party and not invite me? Who does she think she is?
SHANE: You're right, hon.
REGINA: I, like, invented her, you know what I mean?
We do, Regina. We do.
Regina knows that, just like Victor Frankenstein before her, her monster's gotten out of control. Or, put another way, the student has become the master—and Regina's not having it.
When she realizes she no longer rules the school, she goes straight home, and right up to her room and the Burn Book. She wastes zero time enacting her revenge plan against Cady. There's no trying to talk things out. There's no sleeping on it. For Regina, like so many flailing dictators before her, it's scorched-earth all the way, baby.
There's one big question that hangs over Regina for the entire movie: Why is she like that? We mean, almost every high school kid wants to be popular. Nobody's ever said, "A cute Homecoming date and lots of friends? No, thanks. I'd prefer four years of wedgies and a pretend boyfriend who lives in Canada." The thirst for popularity, we get; but why is Regina the meanest girl of them all?
We think the answer lies in lacrosse. At the very end of the movie, Cady tells us that Regina's joined the lacrosse team because it's a perfect outlet for her rage and none of the jocks are afraid of her. In other words, Regina's taking her rage out on some of Chicagoland's unluckiest goalies instead of the entire North Shore student body.
Okay, the entire North Shore student body and the faculty.
Nowhere else in the movie is Regina's anger problem really addressed. It basically comes out of nowhere in the movie's last two minutes. The closest we get to unrest in the George mansion is when Gretchen tells Cady that Regina's parents totally don't sleep in the same bed anymore. Then there's the relationship between Regina and her mom. Mrs. George is super-thirsty to be "just one of the girls," and irritates Regina like a concrete-chested fruit fly.
Here's Shmoop's hypothesis then: Regina's so mean because she's lonely and mad at the world. Her parents don't get along. They don't pay any attention to Regina or her neglected, booty-shakin' little sis; all they do is throw expensive toys at them, and Regina's old enough now to resent her mom and dad substituting, well, stuff for actual love and attention. That's why she wants all the attention at school: because she gets nada at home, and that makes her sad and angry.
Of course, none of that makes it okay for Regina to act like a manipulative monster at school, but it does mean she's isn't an actual monster. She's just a girl who, now that she's older and wiser, might wish she could trade her master suite back for a rad family game night or two.
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