Thursday, March 19, 2020

Book Review | William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Mean Girls


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This play was freaking amazing. Maybe that is because the movie is an absolute gem that I love, and giving it the Shakespeare treatment made it even better.

Tina Fey wrote the script for Mean Girls based off a non-fiction parenting book called Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman - as if we needed further proof for how awesome Tina Fey is. If you have never seen the movie, I highly recommend it. Don't let the setting fool you; despite the trappings of high school melodrama, the movie is sharp, witty, and intelligent.

Naturally then, movie lends itself to being rewritten in a form the Bard might have taken, were he to have written about high school cliques, slutty Halloween costumes, and subterfuge. The only concerns I had going in were how Cady's many voice-overs would be addressed, and how some of the quick scenes from the movie would jump but still be able to mesh together as the movie did. This was handled in a satisfying way by making use of the balcony and of asides from characters while on stage. Those were also used in Shakespeare's actual work, and worked well. The same can be said here. It did not feel jarring or disjointed to jump from stage to balcony and back, because it mimics the same flow of the movie. He also made great use of stage directions and this is 100% written as if it were a play script.

Not only does the author do a fantastic job of fully immersing us in the world of Shakespeare through iambic pentameter (this truly sounds as if Shakespeare could have written it). but he gives some of my favorites lines moments to shine, including one of my all-time faves, "You go Glen Coco!" I laughed through so much of the book because it was a humorous to read as it is to watch.

I loved this book for three main reasons. The first and most obvious, because I already said as much, is because Mean Girls is one of my fave movies. The second reason is because I love Shakespeare. I am one of those who, as a kid, was already into Shakespeare by 5th or 6th grade. I didn't always understand everything I read, but I asked family and teachers when something stumped me, got answers, and I have been in love with his works ever since. The third reason is that this book, and the others pop culture faves that the author has given this treatment to can open up Shakespeare to a whole new audience. Shakespeare is intimidating and frustrating and sometimes even infuriating when you don't understand the language. But here we have something that is 100% of our modern world, dressed up in the fashion of 500 years ago. This makes Shakespeare that much more accessible to those previously put-off, because they can easily recognize movies they love and the plots playing out.

There are a few differences you may pick up on if you are one of those who has watched the movie a million times - mainly having to do with staging and movement. I was aware of the differences only because the author mentioned them in his note. While reading the actual play, I did not even notice. This is another testament to the strength of the author to reproduce this as it could have looked like in Shakespeare's hands.

The Shakespearean language will not trip you up if you have seen the movie a lot (or have most of the lines memorized, like me). I found that I heard the voices of the characters from the movie as I read the lines, which made the reading all the better and did not slow me down because I knew what the author was trying to say then without having to think about it or dissect Shakespearean phrases. Even so, this can still be enjoyed even if you do not know the movie inside and out. If you have not seen the movie, it will still make sense, but you won't catch some of the subtle things that reference the movie, or Tina Fey herself.

Highly recommended.


  1. i'm sorry (laughing til my stomach hurts time) ,this is really humorous; who would have ever thought... but if it's well done like you say and it makes more people admire the best writer of all time, then great, more power to whoever thought of the idea... v interesting and admirable!

    1. It truly is incredibly well-done, and will definitely make you think you are reading the actual work of Shakespeare. The author has done all the Star Wars movie this way and the first Back to the Future as well.

  2. I've been REALLY tempted by these Shakespeare meets pop culture books. This one just sounds hilarious. :-D

    1. It's so great! I read it all in nearly one sitting. He's done Star Wars and the first Back to the Future, I am hoping he will expand to other movies as well.

  3. I've never seen the movie... But I'm on board for anything that makes Shakespeare more accessible!

  4. Replies
    1. It really is, and such a great way to ease reluctant readers into Shakespeare.


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