Ariana Grande's 'Thank U, Next' video: Small details you missed

Ariana Grande fans got an early Christmas present from the pint-sized pop star when she released her highly anticipated music video for her single "Thank U, Next" on Nov. 30, 2018. Just as the singer teased on social media, the video was one big homage to hit female-led comedies from the 2000s. Well, to four of them anyway — Mean Girls, Bring It On, 13 Going on 30, and Legally Blonde. Grande stepped into the shoes of some of the films' famous characters, and did we mention she enlisted the help of some famous friends like artist Troye Sivan to round out the cast of her video? Clearly, Grande has connections.

And, of course, there were some references to Grande's headline-making personal life, as well. But casual viewers may not have caught all the little details in their first watch, so for those who don't want to pause every few seconds to learn all about the "iconic" video, here's everything you need to know.

Yep, that's the OG Aaron Samuels

Did the actor playing the Aaron Samuels character in Grande's ode to Mean Girls look familiar? He should because that is the original Aaron Samuels, Jonathan Bennett, and good thing, too. Who else could play the guy whose hair looks sexy pushed back?

Before the "Thank U, Next" video debuted, Bennett took to Instagram to share a selfie with Grande on the music video's set. "Aaron [heart] Regina. Thank U, Next," he wrote in the caption. The timing of his role in the video likely couldn't have come at a better time for Bennett, as he released his Mean Girls-inspired cookbook, The Burn Cookbook: An Unofficial Unauthorized Cookbook for Mean Girls Fans, with co-author Nikki Martin in October 2018. He took full advantage of this opportunity by getting Grande to pose with the cookbook for a social media post. He also appears to carry The Burn Cookbook through the halls in one scene of the music video. Most people can't dream of that kind of publicity for their project!

Oh, and that woman in the beginning of "Thank U, Next" that says she had a guy propose to her just so she could end an engagement like Grande? That's actress Stefanie Drummond, who played Bethany Byrd in Mean Girls. You know, the one with the "heavy flow and a wide-set vagina" who Regina George punched in the face once? Yeah, her.

No one could replace Jennifer Coolidge

Jonathan Bennett and Stefanie Drummond weren't the only original stars from one of the movies Grande channels in her video. She also recruited actress Jennifer Coolidge, who starred as nail salon worker Paulette in 2001's Legally Blonde. (She was also a staple in other 2000s movies such as the American Pie franchise and A Cinderella Story.) It makes sense that Grande would ask Coolidge to reprise her famous role for her music video, because, honestly, who else could do that character justice? Coolidge is simply irreplaceable, and a Legally Blonde homage without Paulette is not one we want to see. Plus, she's already a master of the Bend and Snap!

So, what about Grande's dog in the Legally Blonde-inspired scenes? Well, that unfortunately wasn't the dog who played Bruiser in the original movie. That pooch sadly passed away in 2016. The dog we see in "Thank U, Next" appears to be Grande's real-life pup Toulouse, a Beagle-Chihuahua mix.

Pete Davidson makes an appearance… kind of

Ariana Grande and comedian Pete Davidson took the world by storm when reports swirled that they'd gotten engaged in June 2018, after just a few weeks of dating, but their romance wouldn't last long. That engagement ended by October 2018, reported TMZ. It was after their split that Grande wrote "Thank U, Next," and she mentions Davidson in the song, singing, "Even almost got married / And for Pete, I'm so thankful." 

It makes sense that Grande references her one-time fiancé in her music video too. On a page in her version of the Mean Girls' Burn Book — which is simply titled, "Thank U, Next" — Grande includes a photo of her and Davidson. Around the picture, she wrote his name in a heart and "I love you always." She also hinted that she may have been the one to end their relationship, as she wrote, "Sry I dipped," in marker on the page.

Let's talk BDE

The Burn Book page about Pete Davidson isn't the only reference to him in the video, though it may be the most obvious. Ariana Grande also seemed to reference Davidson's so-called "BDE," or "Big D**k Energy." In case you missed when that poetic phrase took over the internet over the summer of 2018, BDE essentially means "a quiet confidence and ease with oneself that comes from knowing you have an enormous penis and you know what to do with it," as The Cut so eloquently put it.

While the phrase doesn't necessarily have anything to do with one's privates, Grande did focus on that in her video, talking to Jennifer Coolidge about someone we presume is Davidson: "I mean, he was really cute, you know. He was really cute. And it was… it was really big." It's worth noting that on Davidson's Burn Book page, Grande also wrote, "HUUUUGE." Oh, and the phrase "BDE" also appears on the delivery man's uniform in one of the nail salon scenes, replacing "UPS."

Shoutouts to her other exes

Of course, considering how Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next" is all about her past relationships and their influence on her, it only makes sense that she references not only Pete Davidson but also other ex-boyfriends, including rapper Big Sean and dancer Ricky Alvarez. Big Sean's shout-out appears first in the video by way of the first page of the Burn Book. Written beside a photo of Grande with Sean are the words "so cute" and "so sweet." In parentheses below the notes, Grande hilariously added, "Could still get it." On Alvarez's page, Grande wrote that he was a "great dancer" and they shared "good times." She also noted that they'd be "friends forever."

The only one of Grande's ex-boyfriends mentioned in the song that didn't have a page in the Burn Book was rapper Mac Miller, who sadly passed away after suffering an alleged drug overdose in September 2018 (via Rolling Stone). When singing lyrics about Miller, Grande just looks away from the book and up toward the ceiling.

Kris Jenner's a 'cool mom'

While getting comedian and Saturday Night Live legend Amy Poehler to reprise her role as Regina George's mom in Mean Girls probably would've been a long shot, Ariana Grande was able to snag a major celeb who totally embodies the hilarious character for her music video — none other than Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner. Doesn't the momager look so right behind that video camera?

Besides being a world-famous mother who spearheaded her children's careers, Jenner has actual experience holding a video camera to capture moments of at least one of her daughters' lives. In the first season of Keeping up with the Kardashians, Jenner was shown wielding a camera, filming Kim Kardashian's nude photoshoot for Playboy. "You're doing amazing, sweetie," Jenner said, unknowingly launching herself into meme status.

In Grande's video, however, Jenner doesn't say those same encouraging words. Instead, she happily references the song by saying, "Thank you, next, b***h!"

A Nickelodeon reunion

"Thank U, Next" isn't just a must-see music video for 2018, but it also served as a reunion of sorts for Ariana Grande and a few of her former Victorious castmates. Elizabeth Gillies, Daniella Monet, and Matt Bennett, who played Jade West, Trina Vega, and Robbie Shapiro, respectively, in the popular Nickelodeon series, all appear in the video. Gillies took on the role of Mean Girls' Cady Heron, originally played by Lindsay Lohan, while Monet played a cheerleader and Bennet played love interest Cliff Pantone in the video's Bring It On scenes.

One person notably absent from the video was Victorious' main star, Victoria Justice. Grande and Justice have long been rumored to have had a feud during their Nickelodeon days. Though Justice has previously denied the gossip, the fact that she's not in "Thank U, Next" has made some fans wonder if there is indeed bad blood between the stars, as noted by Hollywood Life. "i just KNOW somewhere victoria justice is seething. i just know it," one Twitter user wrote.

Ariana's new catchphrase

Perhaps the biggest Easter egg that Ariana Grande hid — or, let's be honest, blatantly displayed — throughout her "Thank U, Next" music video was the song's title, which got its name from one of Grande's old sayings. Fans can spot "Thank U, Next" everywhere, from the cover of the not-so-mean Burn Book, the background of the talent show, and on the wall of her dorm room in a Legally Blonde-inspired scene. The cheerleaders in the video also wear red-and-black uniforms with "TUN" emblazoned on them, which presumably stands for "Thank U, Next." In contrast, their rival cheerleaders have "Lovers" on their uniforms, likely as a general way to reference all of Grande's past relationships.

"Honest to God knock me out," or "H2GKMO," is another one of Grande's famous catchphrases and is referenced in the beginning of the music video. It can also be seen on Grande's right hand, where she has it tattooed, when she looks at the cassette tape she made for herself.

That cheerleader really is pregnant

Notice that really pregnant cheerleader in Grande's video? That wasn't a prosthetic baby bump — that woman was really pregnant. Very pregnant. And that woman wasn't just some woman — she's actually YouTube star Colleen Ballinger, who's best known for her obnoxious, heavily lipstick'd YouTube character Miranda Sings and who's been close friends with Grande for years. In June 2018, Ballinger revealed to her 7.5 million YouTube subscribers — and that's saying nothing about the 9.9 million subscribers on her Miranda Sings channel — that she was three and a half months pregnant. So, you do the math as to just how pregnant she was while filming Grande's video.

Oh, and that scene toward the end of the video where Grande kisses Ballinger's big pregnant belly? Fun fact: You can spot a lipstick mark on her stomach before Grande plants her lips on the baby bump, so we're guessing they had to film that sweet smooch more than once.

We see you, Frankie

Ariana Grande's older brother, Frankie Grande, may not have had a role in the music video for "Thank U, Next," but he still managed to make an appearance. If viewers look closely at the walls in Grande's bedroom set in the Bring It On world, they'll spot a poster featuring none other than the popular YouTuber and Celebrity Big Brother star. The poster in question is of Frankie figure skating and appears to have his signature scrawled across it. Also, if fans pay extra close attention to the 13 Going on 30 scene in "Thank U, Next," where Ariana Grande looks at the dollhouse, they can see a mini version of that poster in the tiny recreation of the Bring It On bedroom. Now that's some serious attention to detail.

Another YouTuber also made it into the video? Gabi DeMartino, who previously incited Arianators' wrath after posting a parody video to her channel of her living like Ariana Grande for a day. Clearly, that's all water under the bridge, as far as the pop star is concerned.

Selfie queen

In one of the 13 Going on 30 scenes in Ariana Grande's video, the "God Is a Woman" singer looks at a dollhouse that features the Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, and Bring It On bedrooms she was in earlier, in addition to a bathroom. Look closely and you'll see photos of Grande inside. One noteworthy picture in particular can be spotted in the bathtub. It's a selfie Grande took with a flowery bunny-eared filter and posted to Instagram on Nov. 15, 2018.

Why is this photo so special? Well, it caused Grande's fans to freak out (via Glamour), as it showed off the singer with a much shorter hairdo. While the cut was certainly no pixie, it was a far cry from Grande's trademark long hair, which she often wears up in a tight ponytail due to damage caused by years of bleaching and dying her hair red for Victorious.

Getting political

While Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next" video is mostly just riddled with references to her personal life and nods to 2000s movies, the pop star appears to have snuck in a subtle political statement. While reenacting the scene of Legally Blonde's Elle Woods studying outside while wearing a bikini top and a fur coat, Grande can be seen reading a text with the title "Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy."

This can hardly be just by chance considering all that's going on at the Texas-Mexico border as a result of President Donald J. Trump's policies. Grande has opened up about her feelings toward Trump before, saying on Twitter after his 2016 election: "We just have to stick together right now" (via Billboard).  She continued, "Let's please be active and vocal every day toward making each other feel accepted and loved for our differences. … it's the only way we will be able to get through what could possibly be a very dark few years."

Did she tease new music?

Very much in the style of fellow singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande seems to have included references to upcoming music in her video for "Thank U, Next." For instance, in one Mean Girls-inspired scene, Grande wears a shirt that reads, "A little bit needy" — a marked change from Regina George's iconic shirt that read, "A little bit dramatic." As fans may already know, Grande previously released snippets of a song possibly called "Needy" on social media, reported Billboard.

"Seven Rings" is also thought to be one of Grande's future track releases, as it was seen on a list alongside "Thank U, Next" and "Needy" on what appeared to be a set for Grande's "Breathin'" music video (via Elite Daily). In the "Thank U, Next" video, Grande drives a sleek, black car with the license plate "7 RINGS." That can't be a coincidence. Fans reportedly believe that rumored song is about Grande's friendships, as she and her friends have all been spotted wearing the same ring.