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'Mean Girls' Turns 10: The Intersection — and Divergence — of Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey

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Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey in Mean Girls

If you were a time traveler from 2004, and you arrived here in 2014, you'd need a few things explained, such as the iPhone, the iPad and Lindsay Lohan's and Tina Fey's respective careers after Mean Girls.

Your local Apple store's Genius Bar should be able to give you the scoop on smartphones and tablets. As for Lohan and Fey, that’s more complicated. Here’s a year-by-year guide.

2004: Lohan is the face of Seventeen magazine, the rising star of The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen who herself is just 17. Fey, meanwhile, is a 33-year-old, Emmy-winning Saturday Night Live veteran trying to make the jump to film by writing one (and by giving herself a minor part in return).

Their collaboration, Mean Girls, about a sheltered transplant from Africa (Lohan) learning the strange ways of the American high schooler, is released on April 30, 2004, to critical acclaim. In a thumbs-up review, Roger Ebert hails the film's star: "In the middle of all this, Lindsay Lohan … provides a center by being centered. She has a quiet self-confidence that prevents her from getting shrill and hyper like so many teenage stars." New York Magazine's Peter Rainer calls the film "a smart little teen picture that, for a change, actually features recognizable teens." The public seemingly agrees; the $17 million movie opens atop the weekend box office with $24.4 million (still Lohan's biggest-ever opening), and goes onto to gross more than $86 million domestically.

[Infographic: Plotting the Levels of Weird in High School Movies]

The results fit well into the established narrative: Lohan really, truly is an aspirational brand (by the end of the year, she’ll even have a hit album, Speak); and, Fey really, truly is a brain to watch (she's even got a deal with NBC to develop a "primetime project" for NBC).

Herbie Fully Loaded

2005: Lohan stars in Herbie: Fully Loaded, a perfectly fine Disney family film that nonetheless is a step back artistically from Mean Girls. Commercially, the $50 million film's domestic take is a so-so $66 million. On the personal front, Lohan, hospitalized during the making of Herbie for what's called exhaustion, battles reports that she's living hard (and as many an entertainment journalist wag would write, getting "fully loaded" herself).

Fey, meanwhile, earns a Writers Guild of America Awards nomination for her work on Mean Girls, gives birth to her first child, and is reported to be "working on [the] sitcom pilot for NBC."

2006: Lohan is hospitalized again while working on a film — this time, the family drama "Georgia Rule," with Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman, and this time, the absence draws a rebuke and a threat of legal action from the studio. Elsewhere, her romantic comedy, Just My Luck, falls flat, but proves prophetic as Lohan seemingly transfers her onetime box-office prowess to her leading man, the then-little-known Chris Pine.

As for Fey, she has an eventful year — she leaves SNL, NBC picks up her sitcom and a show named 30 Rock debuts in the fall.

2007: Lohan's Georgia Rule bombs; her thriller, I Know Who Killed Me, bombs; her arrest record booms and she does a brief stint in jail.

Fey's 30 Rock wins the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.

The cast of 30 Rock

It’s been only four years since Mean Girls.

2008-13: Wash, rinse, repeat. Lohan’s movie career is supplanted by her career as a supplier of tabloid, rehab and courtroom fodder. Fey's TV career is supplemented by a film career (Baby Mama and Date Night, chiefly), a pitchperson career (for Garnier beauty products) and a funniest-person-on-the-planet career (a title shared with Amy Poehler, and linked to their hosting duties for the Golden Globes).

It now seems like a million years since Mean Girls, and in a 2013 interview Fey looks backs wistfully at the "beautiful, healthy Lindsay Lohan."

2014: Lohan, now 27, is a reality-TV star, and, really, that’s the most positive thing that’s been written about her in years. She does seem healthier, and she talks up a Mean Girls reunion on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show.

Unfortunately, Fey, 43, shoots down the buzz — and, indeed, a Mean Girls reunion wouldn't be easy to schedule. Among other projects, Fey, one year past the end of 30 Rock, is working on a new big-screen comedy with Poehler that's been set for a 2015 release opposite the new Star Wars movie. Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried, two young Mean Girls actors-turned-players themselves, are also currently occupied.

Mean Girls, by the by, turns 10 on Wednesday.

It still seems like a million years ago.

Photo Credit(s): Everett Collection; NBC

 

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