"Now here's something I've noticed about girls, after years of careful observation. They tend to sort themselves into groups of three. There's the hottest one, who is the boss. She dominates and controls the second-hottest one, who is the sidekick and second-in-command, and she instructs her in the art of clothes and sexiness. Then there's a third one, usually chubby or freakishly tall and skinny or otherwise afflicted, whom #1 and #2 both boss around."
King Dork by Frank Portman
The "mean girl" and her posse have been documented as a real phenomena in the teenage world. This set-up, though, has also become a cliche in teen books and movies.
Does the overworked cliche undermine reality? Hmmm. But that's beside the point. I want to talk about something else.
I keep wondering how teenage girls feel when they see this stereotype in a book or movie. Do girls recognize themselves as the head harpy? As the social climber hoping to get the harpy's place? As the loser girl in the bunch? Do they see nothing wrong with this scenario? Do they just assume the author is talking about someone else? Or do they wonder who the heck these people are?
Girls are portrayed horribly in books like The A-List and The Gossip Girl. But those books aren't very well regarded, and there's a big question about how seriously readers take them. Books like King Dork, however, are well-reviewed and considered serious literature. Readers aren't reading them for laughs.
Boys take a beating in a lot of YA books, too, including King Dork. When, say, an adolescent athlete sees his kind described as tormenting and abusing weaker kids, what goes through his mind?
I'm not saying that no one should write about these kinds of characters because their real-life counterparts might be injured. I'm saying that I really can't imagine how kids feel about seeing themselves portrayed this way.