[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have authors Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley guest post on the site today. Take it away ladies!]
If you’ve ever watched or read a teen drama, you know exactly who we mean. The popular queen of her school’s social scene, the gorgeous and infamously cruel head of the clique—the girl you love to hate. The “bitchy popular girl” is delightfully, deliciously unlikable—and when done right, can be much, much more complex.
Our love for this character inspired our upcoming YA novel If I’m Being Honest, which follows prep school queen Cameron Bright in her complicated, questionable quest for redemption. In finding Cameron’s story, we revisited our favorite “mean girls” from TV, books, and movies.
Here’s our list:
Genevieve, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
“Scrunchiegate” swept social media this year, with Peter Kavinsky’s scheming ex in the center of the scandal. What we love about Gen is summarized in scrunchiegate—she’s smart, an effortless manipulator of appearances and insinuations. And while we don’t want to drop spoilers for the TATBILB sequel, it’s possible we’ll learn revelations placing Genevieve’s jealousy and scorn for Lara Jean in a new light.
Regina George, Mean Girls
Regina’s morally irredeemable. We love her for committing wholeheartedly to her queendom—powered by Rachel McAdams’ divinely derisive performance, Regina holds herself with complete high-school superiority. It’s an energy.
Summer, The OC
Summer’s the example of how popular-girl looks can be deceiving. Though a princess, Summer’s thoughtful and loyal and wrestles with how she’s stereotyped—shown perfectly in her stuff-of-teen-drama-legend romance with Seth (who, if we’re being honest, might’ve had a hand in inspiring If I’m Being Honest’s love interest.)
Tahani Al-Jamil, The Good Place
Okay, Tahani’s not from a teen drama. Nor is she mean. Why we included her was how completely she reinvents the common characteristics of the popular-girl role. While she first seems the gorgeous, judgmental counterpoint to out-of-place Eleanor, the more we learn of Tahani’s generous side—and her own insecurities—the more we love her. She’s The Good Place’s mean popular girl until suddenly, she’s not.
Paris Geller, Gilmore Girls
Paris adds a new twist to the popular girl stereotype—making her the nerdy, overachieving mean girl. Like the best mean girls, though, Paris evolves over the seasons while never forsaking the ambitious edge that makes her who she is. Her complicated relationship then friendship with Rory is, we think, the true heart of the show
Cordelia Chase, Buffy The Vampire Slayer
“Cordy” develops over Buffy’s early seasons from comic relief (“Oh, I would kill to live in L.A. That close to that many shoes?”) to one of the first popular-girl rehabilitations we remember, and one of our favorites. A high point was her very real pain over her breakup with goofy, unpopular Xander, not for the karmic resonance—but for the demonstration Cordelia’s popular-bitchiness coexists with very real feelings, ones not entirely coherent with her “type” or place in the high-school hierarchy.
Literally everyone, Gossip Girl
From Blair to Serena to Georgina, this show is all about girls we love to hate. Villains, heroes, it doesn’t matter. Gossip Girl gives us young women of all moralities, both dramatic and deeply relatable.
If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka out April 23rd!
Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: b*tch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school–she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her brutal honesty. But when she slips up in front of her crush, Andrew, any affection he may have had for her quickly fades. To win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Shakespeare’s infamous shrew, Katherine. If she makes amends with everyone she’s ever wronged, Andrew will have to take notice. Thus, Cameron begins her apology tour with Brendan, the guy whose social life she single-handedly destroyed. At first, Brendan isn’t so quick to forgive, but slowly he warms to her when they connect over a computer game he’s developing. To Cameron’s amazement, she actually enjoys hanging out with Brendan; he appreciates her honesty in a way Andrew never did, and she’s left wondering: maybe you shouldn’t have to compromise who you are for the kind of love you deserve.