Contains spoilers for Boo, Bitch
With great power comes great responsibility. And that’s if you’re Spider-Man. But arguably it’s even more true if you’re a popular high school senior with the power to destroy a reputation with a fart, and make a prom king with… well, kind of, the power of that same fart. But more on that later.
Lana Condor (To All The Boys series) stars as high school senior Erika Vu, who due to some casual cruelty from her own personal equivalent of Rachel McAdams’ Regina George from Mean Girls, has spent the last four years being invisible and known as Helen Who. Erika is actually semi-ok with getting through to graduation without being humiliated further but her best friend Gia (Zoe Margaret Colletti) is not and desperately wants them to have some actual fun before school’s out. This involves going to parties, kissing boys, and generally saying ‘YES!’ to (almost) everything.
But then one of them dies. Under a moose. And has to fulfill their unfinished business, which is probably going to prom, although possibly it’s being famous and an influencer and the aforementioned thing about the fart…
Boo, Bitch doesn’t actually really need to be a series, it’d work just as well as a film but that’s ok, it’s eight fairly short eps which deal with the set up, the death, the rules, the unfinished busy, the dissolution of the friendship, the descent into hell, and the final redemption (with a hefty twist along the way). While it shares the theme of hardworking best mates, who want one last hoorah that Book Smart focuses on, Boo, Bitch is very much the spawn of 2004’s Mean Girls, based on Rosalind Wiseman’s non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes, adapted into a screenplay by Tina Fey. In Mean Girls, outsider Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan, in her prime) manages to infiltrate cool girl group The Plastics, ostensibly to take them down, but is seduced by the power. And problems arise when Cady goes after Queen Bee Regina’s ex-boyfriend.
It’s a similar deal here. Erika has had a long term crush on Jake C. (Mason Versaw), on-again-off-again ex of popular girl Riley (Aparna Brielle). He takes an interest in Erika at a party when she turns out to be very good at beer pong (swoon!), and Riley isn’t happy. The two compete, become frenemies, then sort of friends before Erika sells her soul to Instagram, seduced as she is, by the power of the influencer lifestyle. And of course she abandons bestie Gia all the while.
You can imagine Janice Ian nodding along sagely at home.
It’s worth noting that Boo, Bitch, has moved with the times. Erika and Gia’s mission to say yes to everything involves lots of booze, edibles, a threesome (ok not a threesome, but it’s on the table…), and there’s plenty of chat about cocaine and other drug use, while it’s way more up to date in terms of identity politics too.
Despite the kooky premise, though, there’s also the fact that one of the girls is dead.
And of course, the big twist here is that it’s Gia and not Erika after all who is under the moose. Gia has tricked her best friend into believing it’s her body decomposing beneath the moose so that Erika will learn to be bold, say yes, and not associate going to her first ever party with tragedy. Gia knows she’s soon to ascend off this mortal coil and uses her remaining time – yes, to make out with the cute boy she likes – but much more than that, to teach Erika how to cope without her. And Erika uses it to get free dresses and almost cancel the prom… It’s ok. It’s a redemptive tale. Gia and Erika make up before Gia has to ‘go’. Devon (Jason Genao) is no longer known as ‘Stinky’ and becomes prom king. And despite Riley winning prom queen fair and square, Erika’s final gesture to Gia is surely a nod to Cady’s own prom from Mean Girls. When Cady wins she breaks up the crown and gives pieces to the girls she wronged, as well as everybody else. Erika on the other hand knows that her duty to Gia is to make sure that she is remembered. While Erika (believing she was dead) had experiences and forged a reputation in the weeks after the fateful party, Gia could not. Gia hasn’t been in school for a month and no one (but medium Gavin, who can see her) has even noticed. So Erika uses her notoriety to ask that the crown go to Gia, so she will be forever remembered as this year’s prom queen.
Rather than aping Mean Girls, Boo, Bitch is a fun update for Gen Z. And I’d genuinely like to believe there was a moment in which co-creators Erin Ehrlich, Lauren Iungerich, Tim Schauer, and Kuba Soltysiak sat round a table and had a serious discussion about whether to call the show ‘Boo, You Whore’ in direct reference to a classic and very quotable Mean Girls line. Boo, Bitch is a safer bet, but if you listen carefully you can hear the ghostly whispering of ‘Boo, you whore’ rustling through the trees…
Boo, Bitch is available to stream now on Netflix, as is Mean Girls.