It’s the age of fourth-wave feminism, of Wonder Woman and widespread girl-truce and “I believe you.”

But flip on the TV, go to the movies or even slide into the soft velvet seats of a theater orchestra section, and still, somehow, the Mean Girl reigns. She’s the pop-cultural archetype we just can’t seem to quit.

  • There’s Mellie Grant in "Scandal," although Olivia Pope certainly has her moments.
  • There’s the sorceress with the enviable cheekbones in "Maleficent" and Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada.”
  • Even if a lifetime of traumas hadn’t been flung her way, Cersei Lannister would probably still have been the most beguiling tyrant on "Game of Thrones.”
  • In the protracted blood feud between the Swifts and the Kardashian-Wests, the Mean Girl is definitely Taylor. (Or maybe it is Kim. It’s all so super-unclear.)

And now? She’s Broadway-bound.

A freewheeling 2 1/2 -hour “Mean Girls” musical, based on the 2004 cult movie written by comedian Tina Fey, is working out the kinks on Washington’s National Theatre stage before it heads north for a Broadway run.

The ultimate Mean Girl: Regina George

A serious contender for one of moviedom’s most terrifying Mean Girls, Regina George, leader of the clique known as the Plastics, has a smartphone now, and skinny jeans, platform heels and tight leather jackets, not to mention a few slithery rock numbers.

Outside the theater, 13 years after “Mean Girls” hit the megaplex, womanhood has changed. In our era of kindness and allies and pink-hatted sisterhood, is betrayal really still what girls do?

“I’m not mean! I’m a woman,” argues Donna Rodney, 49, of Silver Spring, as she waits to enter the National Theatre on a recent rainy afternoon. Women are her support system, she says, but she has a theory about why the Mean Girl persists.

“I think there’s a lot of stereotypes people want to hang on to,” she says. “It’s more interesting to be mean and nasty to other women than to be inclusive and understanding and to be a caring person.”

“Being mean is far more interesting.”

On screen, and onstage, it certainly does make for a good time. But who among us hasn’t known one — just one! — Mean Girl in real life? Who has not dreamed of secretly slipping her Kalteen bars?

The original book on ‘Mean Girls’

Rosalind Wiseman’s 15-year-old book, "Queen Bees and Wannabes,” was the source material for “Mean Girls.” In it, Wiseman, who spent much of her life in Washington, described girlhood as an animalistic landscape of Queen Bees (moneyed pretty girls who alternate kindness with reproach, basically just to gaslight their entire social group); Sidekicks (the totally indoctrinated disciples of the Bee); Targets (fairly obvious, this one); and other girls you should hope never to cross in a dark alley.

But “Queen Bees” wasn’t fiction; it was a manual for parents whose teenage daughters were growing up so fast, and potentially into psychotic little Mussolinis.

Not everyone will encounter a Mean Girl in their lifetime, says Wiseman, who now lives in Colorado, but there continue to be girls — and grown women — who “disproportionately make life miserable for the other people around them.”

Now, she might just use social media to do it.

Wiseman, who has a quick laugh and a habit of dropping unprintable words, has written more than half a dozen books, including one on boy behavior. But she acknowledges that it’s her field report on girls who feed on the destruction of other girls that has endured.

Just like the Mean Girl herself.

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