‘Get in, loser, we’re reunifying Germany’

Tracing the plot of Mean Girls through three Oct. 3s (just go with it)

Published October 3, 2023

In Mean Girls, Aaron Samuels turned around and asked Cady Heron what day it is. “It’s October 3rd,” she swooned, sure this was a sign that he likes her.

Whether or not you remember this scene between Jonathan Bennett and Lindsay Lohan, it’s the reason why Oct. 3 is Mean Girls day – and if you squint just right, you can see Mean Girls parallels on this day all through history. Turf wars, Cold War thaws, the literal Civil War: Oct. 3 has everything! Well, every kind of war anyway. And that’s kind of what Mean Girls is all about.

‘Why are you eating Kalteen bars?’: Second Battle of Corinth (Miss.), 1862

A sequel to the Siege of Corinth in the spring of ‘62, the Second Battle of Corinth was yet another attack in the long campaign around the Mississippi River during the Civil War. Consider Cady’s continued efforts to sabotage Regina George (Rachel McAdams): if the siege was telling Aaron that Regina was cheating on him, then Second Corinth was that time Cady slipped her the bulk-up Kalteen bars.

Under General Earl Van Dorn, the Confederates were hoping to retake the rail junction town of Corinth, and then head into Middle Tennessee from there. The Union troops staged their counterattack from old Confederate rifle trenches left over from the earlier siege, but the Confederates pushed through the lines. The next day, the armies found themselves locked in hand-to-hand combat as the Confederates tried to move on Corinth, in the process storming two Union batteries called Powell and Robinett. The Union recaptured Battery Powell, and Van Dorn ordered a retreat. But, since Union Major General Rosecrans did not immediately pursue them, they escaped total destruction for a time.

Like Regina, the South was taken down yet another peg, but not yet defeated. Just like Cady, Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the West would strike a more decisive blow at Vicksburg.

‘You’re a mean girl, Cady’: Chicago Taxi-Cab War, 1928

War between people in the same social group: that’s Cady and her friend Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) all the way down. Cady eventually usurps Regina’s place in the Plastics, catching beef with Janis, who confronts Cady about their friendship and their former goal of taking down the Plastics, not joining them.

A similar war happened in Chicago in the 1920s, between taxi drivers for Yellow Cab and Checker Cab. The city was a war zone, with cabs maneuvered like tanks through the streets, shots fired from cab windows, murders, and even bombings. The war allegedly began with the murder of Frank Sexton, who was attempting to organize the cabbies. A man named Jack Rose was accused of the murder, so Patrick Sexton—Frank’s father—murdered Jack in response. Checker Cab owner Morris Markin’s home was firebombed in 1923, leading him to relocate HQ to Michigan.

The wars continued, though. Five whole years later, in September 1928, a Yellow Cab driver shot and killed a Checker Cab driver. The next week, someone dynamited two Yellow Cab garages. On Oct. 3, 1928, Yellow Cab owner John D. Hertz – yes, that Hertz – had his personal stables bombed, dragging 11 innocent horses into the body count. 

If only the two companies could have shared the crown of the Spring Fling Queen, things might have gone back to normal. But no, they had to go shoot each other in the streets instead.

‘Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by Regina George’: Unification Treaty, 1990

By the end of Mean Girls, Cady has owned up to the Burn Book and made up with Janis, and there’s a tentative truce between them and the Plastics. Eventually, they all realized their feud was kinda stupid, and decided to get along for the sake of each other. And finally, for the first time since World War II, the same thing would happen for Germany.

The Berlin Wall was only one border separating East and West Germany, but by 1989 the 96-mile double wall encircling all of West Berlin was guarded by 302 watchtowers – all the better to look for defectors crossing the “death strip,” the space between the walls (and therefore the space between the two Germanys). The wall was decommissioned in November of that year, and, presaging the fall of their allies the Soviet Union, the unstable East German government – already destabilized by an unrelated tear in the Iron Curtain – accelerated its breakdown. Less than a year after the demolition started, Germany was fully reunified as a democracy on Oct. 3, 1990.

As Cady narrates at the end of Mean Girls, “All the drama from last year just wasn’t important anymore… finally, girl world was at peace.”