I still remember the first time I saw Mean Girls.

Sitting in that movie theater, watching my childhood hero, The Parent Trap’s Lindsay Lohan, navigating through the twisted and complex world of high school friendships was a revelation. Sure the movie, written by a not-yet-super-famous Tina Fey, was hilarious, the outfits were amazing, and the plot entertaining, but what struck me the most in my 14-year-old mind was how real the movie felt, how it seemed to have been made just for me.

Obviously, I was far from alone. In the nearly 20 (gulp) years since the film was released in April 2004, it has become a behemoth, a now-classic ode to Millennial girlhood. It inspired a musical, a new movie musical, released earlier this month, and many, many memes.

To celebrate the anniversary of the film’s release, author and entertainment journalist Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, whose book about Seinfeld was a New York Times bestseller, has turned her expertise to Mean Girls. Armstrong spoke to many key players behind the film, including producers, cast, and crew, and sifted through the annals of pop culture history to examine how the film continues to resonate. Her resulting book, So Fetch: The Making of Mean Girls (And Why We’re Still So Obsessed with It) is a fitting tribute to a film that has become so iconic to now multiple generations of young women.

Armstrong chatted with Glamour about how Mean Girls went from movie to meme machine, how teen movies have evolved over time, and why the film has become such a mainstay in pop culture.

Glamour: In the book, you track the evolution from Mean Girls the movie to Mean Girls the cultural touchstone. You, rightly I believe, credit much of its transcendence as a pop culture phenomenon to its popularity among millennials on the internet. Why do you think we gravitated towards this movie so much?

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong: I mean that’s the big question. A bunch of movies have come out in the years since too, and some are almost as good, but why does this one still seem so omnipresent? And [the internet] is really the answer.

…So many of the people involved with the movie said there was this lull, essentially. [They said] the movie came out, my life was kind of normal and then all of a sudden I had one line in this movie and I’m being recognized on the street. And the answer is because now you’re famous as a meme and actually people see a meme sometimes way more than they might have ever seen a movie….I think they all went through that thing that lots of people go through, which is being annoyed at first that they’re stuck with this thing from 2004, but also being like, eh, there are worse things in the world, and in some ways it’s been great. So it’s so strange and specific. Also, the way memes work means that sometimes the meaning changes wildly depending on the context people are using it for. So that part is a little weird as well.

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