The Brief: Ariana Grande's much-anticipated video for "thank u, next," is a star-studded, and upbeat celebration of self-love and friendship.
The much-anticipated music video for “thank u, next” dropped on November 30, 2018, and broke YouTube’s record for the most views in 24 hours. The video references and reenacts iconic moments from four beloved films of the early 2000s: Mean Girls, Bring It On, 13 Going On 30, and Legally Blonde.
The first section of the video makes fun of some of the most ludicrous gossip that has circulated about Ariana Grande. This tribute to Mean Girls includes appearances from Colleen Ballinger, Troye Sivan, and Jonathan Bennett (Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls). Ariana plays the lead “mean girl” Regina George and her IRL friends play the other members of “the plastics” clique. In a scene replicating the holiday talent show from Mean Girls, Kris Jenner enthusiastically wields a camcorder, parodying Amy Pohler’s overzealous “cool mom” character in the original film.
A remix of the cheerleader-flick Bring It On features Ariana’s Victorious co-star Matt Bennett, Colleen Ballinger (again), and some of Ariana’s backup dancers.
In the 13 Going On 30 section, Ariana appears with shorter hair at a wedding where the bride’s silhouette looks a lot like Ariana as well. She brings a dollhouse like the one in the film, except in this version, the rooms match ones from other scenes in the “thank u, next” video.
Ariana goes full Elle Woods in the Legally Blonde homage, which features her actual pet dog as Bruiser. She and Jennifer Coolidge (Paulette in Legally Blonde) recreate the “bend and snap” salon scene, with a BDE reference snuck-in.
This video’s immediate success can be attributed to Ariana’s immense popularity, the hype around the song, the nostalgic elements of the video, and the many easter eggs it contains. This video honors self-empowerment, self-care, and self-love in a fun embrace of positivity, femininity, and friendship.