I don’t just hate redemption arcs for mean girl characters. I DESPISE them.
On this blog, I have made it clear that we at ShawarmaHead Studios have a preference for mean girl characters.
I am going to tell you why.
You see, for a very long time, I, ShawarmaHead, struggled to find good, creatively written, PROACTIVE female characters. I was so desperate in fact, that I didn’t care where I found them.
The keyword here is PROACTIVE. When a character, female gender or not, is a REACTIVE character, it’s very dehumanizing. Humans are by nature PROACTIVE AND REACTIVE.
Writers can display proactive characteristics in their characters by simply having a character have priorities outside of the main plot (e.g. going to the bank, having goals to achieve). More often than not, the reason female characters are so poorly done is that they lack that SIMPLE proactive trait that makes it clear that they behave like human beings.
That’s why so many people love female characters that do things on their own without waiting for someone for them to REACT to (e.g. falling in love with a man before changing).
In searching everywhere for this proactive element in characters. I came across mean girls. When I did, I had a revelation.
Mean girls are some of the most interesting and proactive characters to EVER be written. Can you imagine having the ability to CONTROL AN ENTIRE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT while still a teenager? It takes a certain level of EQ genius to accomplish such a feat.
So then why do I hate redemption arcs so much?
Because two things happen to mean girls in redemption arcs.
- They suddenly lose the skills they used to control the school. Bleaching of the brain of sorts. They become a blank slate.
- It is explained that the reason they are like this is because of self-esteem issues and insecurity.
Now I have different problems with each point.
Point # 1 – They suddenly lose the skills they used to control the school. Bleaching of the brain of sorts. They become a blank slate out of shame. Almost as if they have become a child again.
This is the point I have MORE of a problem with. I am expected to believe that a mean girl character who is so ambitious and calculating suddenly no longer has the skills to be able to do these things anymore.
If they are using those same abilities for good? That makes sense. Her abilities remain the only thing that changes are her motivations and goals.
But more often than not. The abilities of a mean girl character always seem to be synonymous with their morality.
If they become ‘good’, their abilities disappear. Their former intelligence also disappears.
Point # 2 – It is explained that the reason they are like this is because of self-esteem issues and insecurity.
Now, this would be as ONE EXPLANATION. Not the ONLY EXPLANATION for every single mean girl. It’s extremely limiting. The only mean girl character who I have ever seen who DID NOT have this excuse was Massie Block.
In the case of Massie Block, she was a character who actively aimed to become a mean girl. She planned for her take over, not because she was trying to hide insecurities, but because she believed she deserved to lead. She believed she had the aptitude. She believed she had good ideas. Even when no one else would. She gave herself the right to become a clique leader.
Screw Redemption Arcs for mean girl characters if it means they lose everything that made them interesting PROACTIVE characters.