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Clique Tour

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"Where you sit in the cafeteria is crucial because you got everybody there. You got your Freshmen, ROTC Guys, Preps, JV Jocks, Asian Nerds, Cool Asians, Varsity Jocks, Unfriendly Black Hotties, Girls Who Eat Their Feelings, Girls Who Don't Eat Anything, Desperate Wannabes, Burnouts, Sexually Active Band Geeks, The Greatest People You Will Ever Meet, and the Worst. Beware of The Plastics."
Janis, Mean Girls
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If half of all stories are "a stranger comes to town," then someone has to show that stranger around town. Said Naïve Newcomer is likely to get a Clique Tour. Someone points out the area's cliques and groups — which are usually Stereotypes or other familiar archetypes — to the newcomer and explains the Popularity Food Chain. Sometimes, there will be one clique/group that is humorously out of place or otherwise emphasized; in the case of the latter, this marks them as important. The tour may be paired with stereotypical activities or otherwise quick Establishing Character Moments for the entire clique, such as jocks introduced tossing footballs and shoving nerds into lockers, the Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse verbally bullying someone, or nerds working on homework. One variation is to excise the newcomer entirely and have the society exposition done via As You Know dialogue or as narration to the audience.

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The Clique Tour is a quick way to introduce the societal dynamics of a new location to both the newbie and the audience. This can take place in any location, such as schools (in this case, the work is usually a teen comedy/drama, and this trope is used to acclimate the Audience Surrogate, the New Transfer Student, or the Foreign Exchange Student), new towns/cities, or jails.


Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • Saya gives Marcus one in Deadly Class as she introduces him to the assassins' school. The cliques in this case composed of the children of violent groups. The "Dixie Mob" are redneck neo-Nazis, the "Preps" are rich CIA/FBI, the "Jersey Kings" are East Coast mobsters, the "Soto Vatos" are drug cartel kids, the "Kuroki Syndicate" is Yakuza, and the "Final World Order" are LA gang mangers.
  • In the second issue of Generation Zero, Keisha gives a tour of the cliques at her school to the Zygos Twins so that they can more easily analyze all the students at the school and determine who was most likely to know something about the murder of Keisha's boyfriend.

    Films — Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (2013), when Twilight tells Fluttershy that she's going to run for Princess of the Fall Formal in order to prevent Sunset Shimmer from getting her crown, Fluttershy tells her that she needs to convince everyone in the school to vote for her and she lists off the cliques of the school: the athletes, the fashionistas, the dramas, the eco-kids, the techies, and the rockers.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 10 Things I Hate About You, Michael welcomes new boy Cameron with a tour of the high school's social scene.
  • Subverted in 21 Jump Street when Schmidt and Jenko are surveying the high school they're infiltrating. It should be noted that the duo are nearly a decade removed from high school and are unfamiliar with the drastically different social climate of high schools in the film's present day (early-2010s).
    Jenko: Okay, those are Goths, those are nerds...
    [they pass by a clique of hipsters]
    Jenko: I don't know what those are...
    [then they pass by a clique of Weeaboo kids]
    Schmidt: What the fuck are those things?
  • Meredith lists the school cliques in Bratz to Avery and Quinn. She's even got a color-coded map of where each clique sits, and the camera pans to each group for the audience's benefit as she rattles off their names.
    Meredith: You have the goths, the skaters, the disco dorks, the beat boy blingers, the gangstas, the wanna-be gangstas, the pretzel people who are into yoga, very different from the greenies who hate anything not made of plants. Then you have the nerds, the kids who like to dress like dinosaurs, and the football jocks.
  • In Clueless, Cher shows Tai the ropes of high school by showing her the cliques as they walk up to the school entrance. She points out the people who run the TV station, the "Persian mafia", and the popular boys before the conversation is derailed.
  • In The Craft, when Sarah arrives at school she walks around the schoolyard, where she is warned against hanging out with the three magical outcasts. Sarah ignores this warning and ends up getting involved with them.
  • In Disturbing Behavior, Gavin gives new kid Steve the tour, with color commentary from his sidekick, U.V.
  • A list of cliques is recited by the secretary Grace in Ferris Bueller's Day Off to denote how universally loved Ferris is in his school:
    "Oh, he's very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads — they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."
  • A non-school example happens in Gangs of New York: After Amsterdam Vallon returns from a fifteen-year exile to the neighborhood called Little Five Points, his old friend Johnny acquaints him with the factions that control it now, including the Natives that slew Amsterdam's father; the Tonies, a mostly Italian band destined to become The Mafia; and the Gussies, mostly hookers and pimps. While the gangs aren't at each others throats, they are fiercely territorial and viciously vindictive.
  • At the beginning of Heathers, New Transfer Student J.D. gets a tour of all the cliques in the cafeteria. He deliberately chooses to sit at the table for the unpopular losers, despite getting offers from the nerds and from the jocks.
  • Lemonade Mouth: A variation occurs when Stella, on her first day of class, is given a tour of all the clubs operating in the school's underground — such as the drama club, the newspaper, and the lone member of the chess club.
  • Mean Girls: Janis points out the high school's social groups to new girl Cady in the cafeteria. Also the page quote at the top.
  • Parodied in the opening of Not Another Teen Movie when the freshman orientation guide tells the students that there are no cliques or exclusive groups at the school, then immediately separates his tour group by stereotypes and tells them that those people will be their only friends for the next 4 years.
  • Played with in Pitch Perfect, where the usual Clique Tour speech only highlights the four different a cappella groups on campus: the Bellas, The Rival Treblemakers, The Stoner High Notes, and the Harmonics (they sing a lot of Madonna). The rest of the campus social life is handwaved away as unimportant by Benji, who describes the Treblemakers as the coolest group, "short of jocks, cheerleaders, or actual cool people."
  • Parodied in Superhero Movie, where Trey tells Rick about the bus cliques such as the jocks, the nerds, the emos, the Frodos, and the Scarface Society.
  • In St. Trinian's, new girl Annabelle is shown the boarding school cliques in the dormitories. She is introduced to the chavs (loudmouthed, brash girls), the posh totties (fashionable social-climbers), the geeks, the emos, and the first-years.
  • In the opening sequence of Easy A, as Olive begins narrating her story, the camera takes a one-shot of various cliques in her school, culminating in her getting shoved out of the way by a nameless Alpha Bitch and having her stuff dropped, papers flying away and all.

    Literature 
  • In Discworld, the eleven-year old Pteppic arrives at the Assassins' Guild School. After a shaky start when he comes to the attention of his housemaster for all the wrong reasons, he is befriended by the savvier Chidder, who takes a shine to him and tells him what to look out for and who to avoid.
  • From Speak: "We fall into clans: Jocks, Country Clubbers, Idiot Savants, Cheerleaders, Human Waste, Eurotrash, Future Fascists of America, Big hair Chix, the Marthas, Suffering Artists, Thespians, Goths, Shredders."
  • When The Wandering Inn presents the backstory of Pisces and Ceria in the setting's Wizarding School, much of the chapter is taken up with explaining the various political factions of mages within the school, some of which become narratively relevant later on.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: In the song number "What U Missed When U Were Popular", George points out several cliques who were considered "unpopular" in high school to their class's prom king Josh.
  • On The Magicians, Eliot and Margo point out the different disciplines of magic at Brakebills to newcomer Quentin.
  • In the pilot of The Wonder Years, Kevin looks over the various cliques at his school while his older self narrates:
    Adult Kevin: You had your cool kids. You had your smart kids. You had your greasers. Of course, in those days, you had your hippies.
  • Gentaro naturally gets one in Kamen Rider Fourze when he tries to sit at the cheerleader table. Being an All-Loving Hero, he takes this as a challenge to make friends with every single clique. And he does.

    Video Games 
  • In Bully, in the mission "This is Your School", Gary shows Jimmy the four cliques of Bullworth Academy at the cafeteria: the Nerds, the Preppies, the Greasers and the Jocks. Rather justified...since those are also the factions who offer missions.

    Western Animation 

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