Good friends are hard to find—and oftentimes harder to keep. And even the most challenging female friendships can be legendary with the right gals by your side. In honor of School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play—onstage at the Kirk Douglas Theatre September 2–30, 2018—we’re paying tribute to some of the most iconic girl squads in pop culture.
Cher, Dionne, and Tai (from Clueless)
Maybe it was those quotable one-liners or the countless ways Cher rocked a plaid skirt that earned the 1995 coming-of-age comedy Clueless a cult following. Loosely based on Jane Austen’s novel Emma, the film follows two best friends, Cher and Dionne (played by Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash, respectively), as they transform the
tragically unhipnew girl Tai (late Brittany Murphy) into a high school
it girl.In order to capture an authentic youthful voice in the script, writer Amy Heckerling actually audited classes at Beverly Hills High School to observe teenage mannerisms and lingo. Yet much of the subversive humor and over-the-top style of the film came from Heckerling’s imagination, as well as her own experiences as a student at BHHS. Did you really think teenagers in the '90s spoke with that level of sarcasm on a daily basis? As if!
After releasing chart-topping hits like
Spice Up Your Life,this British pop group literally gave meaning to
girl power.Not only did the Spice Girls popularize the slogan for fans everywhere, they revolutionized the music industry for women pop stars. Yet the beginnings of the Spice Girls weren’t always so sweet. In 1994, young Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice), Emma Bunton (Baby Spice), Melanie Brown (Scary Spice), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice), and Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) were selected from hundreds of women who had answered a newspaper ad and auditioned to be part of the new pop band. However, when entertainment managers pressured the Spice Girls into conforming to one specific look, they protested. The group stole master recordings of their songs and pitched themselves to other management, eventually landing with Simon Fuller, who would later usher them into stardom. With their distinct personalities and voices, the Spice Girls symbolize not only female empowerment but the importance of staying true to yourself.
The Toros and the Clovers Cheerleading Squads (from Bring It On)
Let’s face it, high school is one giant competition—and this 2000 comedy about competitive cheerleading proves it. Bring It On opens to one of the most memorable cheers in the history of cinema, as high school senior Torrance Shipman—played by Kirsten Dunst—anxiously dreams about being the next team captain of the Toros. Rivalry ensues when Torrance is accused of stealing a routine from another team, the East Compton Clovers, whose captain Isis is portrayed by Gabrielle Union. During the national competition, the Toros and the Clovers settle their differences on the floor, but find more respect for each other in the end. Considered by Roger Ebert the
Citizen Kane of cheerleader movies,Bring It On went on to have four sequels and a stage musical with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda—which kicked off its national tour at the Ahmanson Theatre in 2011.
Most famously comprised of Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, and Beyoncé Knowles, R&B group Destiny’s Child became a sensation after the release of their chart-topping single
Say My Namein 1999. Their third album, Survivor, was certified four-time platinum in the U.S. and double platinum in Australia—solidifying their status as one of the best-selling female groups of all time. One of the tracks off the record,
Independent Women Part I,was released as the theme song for the 2000 film adaptation of another famous trio of women, Charlie’s Angels. Yet despite their record-breaking successes, Destiny’s Child disbanded in the late 2000s so that they could pursue solo careers—a move that was met with newfound successes. Williams has starred on Broadway, the West End, and TV; Rowland was a judge on The X Factor in the U.K. and U.S.; and Beyoncé holds the most Grammy Award nominations for a woman in history—with a whopping total of 63 for her solo career and with Destiny’s Child. The trio has reunited to record and perform on several occasions, such as on Williams’s single
Say Yesand during Beyoncé’s headlining performance at Coachella this year, proving that friendship always takes center stage.
The Plastics (from Mean Girls)
We can’t make a list about iconic girl squads and not include
The Plasticsfrom the 2004 pop culture phenomenon Mean Girls. In the film, Lindsay Lohan’s character, new girl Cady (
pronounced like Katie), goes to great lengths to sabotage North Shore High’s most notorious girl group. Who can forget the time Cady tricked queen bee Regina George—played by Rachel McAdams—into eating
weird Swedish nutrition barsthat made her gain weight? Or the time Cady made sure that Regina’s right-hand woman, Gretchen Wieners, got none of the candy cane-grams, leading to the disintegration of their group? With their silly traditions (does anyone own enough pink clothing to wear it every Wednesday?) and trendy phrases like
so fetch,The Plastics reminded us just how dangerous—and fragile—high school cliques can be. Mean Girls was so instantly beloved that it won several MTV and Teen Choice Awards, prompted fans to unofficially declare October 3 2017 Tony Award-nominated musical of the same name.