Even though we’re like, fully a year out from the Democratic Primary for the 2020 presidential race, so many people (too many people) are throwing their hats into the ring. To help make sense of it all, a couple of my politically-knowledgeable friends worked with me to put them into a context I care about and understand: the 2004 classic of archetypal storytelling and general cinematic achievement, Mean Girls.
We begin with the plastics:
Regina George — Amy Klobuchar
Just like Regina, Klobuchar seems great on paper; but at this point, we all know about her rage issues. The solution here might just be to find a healthy outlet — maybe field hockey?
Gretchen Weiners — Beto O’Rourke
Gretchen does not learn from her mistakes or failures — that’s why, at the end of the movie, her whole resolution is that she “found a new Queen Bee to serve.” She doesn’t take responsibility for her actions, which is how I’ve come to this conclusion with Mr. I-gotta-take-a-road-trip-to-find-myself. Mr. My-wife-is-raising-our-kids-sometimes-with-my-help. We’re sick of it. You should’ve just run for John Cornyn’s seat — we need more senators, dammit.
Karen Smith — Cory Booker
Cory Booker is a sweet, simple man who believes in Love and Compassion. He is clearly and undeniably very well-intentioned. Honestly, he was nearly the “She doesn’t even go here” girl, except that he very much does Go Here. Arguably, he is a little TOO ingrained in the political machine; just as Karen is a member of the Plastics at least in some part due to her family’s wealth, Booker takes a lot of money from Wall Street, Big Pharma, and Silicon Valley — it’s bad and it makes it hard to trust him. On the plus side, there are at least two things that Cory Booker and I have in common: same birthday; and if I were dating Rosario Dawson, I also would not shut up about it.
Ms. Norbury — Elizabeth Warren
Ms. Norbury knows that we can do better. She wants to help us achieve our potential! And she’s going to push us until we get there. America needs my weird nerd mom. HER CAMPAIGN SONG IS 9-5!!!! Pretty fitting that she would be represented by a teacher who has to supplement her income by working as a bartender at PJ Calamity’s.
Mr. Duvall — Kamala Harris
Harris has a history of being maybe a little too “tough-on-crime,” much in the way that Mr. Duvall’s natural response to the chaos brought on by the film’s plot is maybe a little too authoritarian, maybe a little too violent. But! Over the course of the movie, he does improve. People can grow and change. Sometimes it’s because that’s what the party wants right now, but sometimes it’s because there’s new information and we recognize that the world is a different place than it was before. Maybe that’s what’s happening here? We can hope.
Regina’s Mom — John Hickenlooper
He’s not a regular candidate, he’s a cool candidate. He owns a brewery. He was the Governor of Colorado (the weed state). Come on! Isn’t that enough to erase a history of being entirely too friendly with Republican business interests, shitting on the Green New Deal, and thinking dowries are a totally normal thing that should definitely exist in the modern world? It’s not — it’s not enough.
Cady’s Dad — Kirsten Gillibrand
She cares so much about Family and Equality, and don’t I know her from somewhere? She seems so familiar. Isn’t that the guy from Scrubs? Was he ever in anything else? Gillibrand is great and she prioritizes women and of course I am all about that; but, she is a little forgettable in this sea of candidates (many of whom are also very qualified women).
Coach Carr — Joe Biden
I mean…look: Biden comes with a lot of Very Bad baggage. You can’t be on any record as pro-segregation, you can’t say that you have No Empathy for young people who are dealing with the problems you created, you can’t have treated Anita Hill the way you did, you can’t leave a trail of uncomfortable women in your wake; you can’t be Joe Biden and just expect to be handed the nomination because you’re an old guy who likes ice cream — and isn’t that charming? Stop it, Joe. Step away from the underaged girls.
The supporting cast:
Kevin Gnapoor — Andrew Yang
He’s cool, he’s hip, he’s a huge nerd. What more do you want from me?
“She doesn’t even go here” — Howard Schultz
You cannot fix this, Howard Schultz. I get it — things have come easy to you and so you think all problems can be solved through goodwill and determination; but you’re wrong. America needs more than half-assed Starbucks sensitivity trainings. You don’t even go here.
Aaron Samuels — Pete Buttigieg
Aaron Samuels is not a well-spoken and ambitious Rhodes Scholar, so maybe this casting isn’t as perfect as it could be. But, as the rope in Cady and Regina’s game of tug-of-war, Aaron had to learn that he could not, in fact, have it both ways. Mayor Pete has a troubling history of being pretty conservative-to-moderate, but he has since learned the vocabulary of young socialists. And maybe he means it. Maybe he’ll end up with socialism the way Aaron ends up with Cady. I think we all really want that to be true.
Our main characters:
Damian — Julian Castro
Julian Castro is pretty great, actually. He is sometimes a little left behind (see: Damian’s lack of a last name on IMDB), but he has some good ideas and some good experience! When he was Mayor of San Antonio, he did a lot of good work to try to keep the city affordable; he wants universal Pre-K and he wants to break up ICE. He’s good and fine. He’s great, even! (When you remember about him.)
Janis Ian — Mike Gravel
Mike Gravel is not here to win; he is here to Disrupt. He’s an old old man and he does not want to be president — he just wants to get to the debate stage so that he can yell at all these assholes about how they’re shit-eating hypocrites and they need to do better, for America. He is the only one who is having literally any fun at all. And if any of these candidates is the kind of person to mastermind a really elaborate plot for justice and spite, it’s Mike Gravel.
Cady Heron — Bernie Sanders
This may be a controversial choice, but hear me out. Bernie is, technically, not a Democrat, so he is coming to all of this as an outsider (like Cady), who has to figure out how he fits into the DNC landscape (Girl World). Also! Just as Cady, in her role as narrator, walks us through the story of Mean Girls, Bernie has done a lot of work over the past five years to convince people to pay attention to the story of politics. I’m not saying I would want Cady Heron to be my president, but it’s difficult to deny that Bernie’s perspective has really shaped the way we interact with the issues today. ALSO! Breaking and sharing the homecoming crown was pure socialism.
This began as a fun experiment, but I leave it even more convinced that the next year and a half is going to be a real shitshow. There’s only so much conflict-mediation and trust falls can accomplish.