Review: 10 Things I Hate About You 1×1

Romancing the shrew

10 Things I Hate About You

In the US: Tuesdays, 8/7c, ABC Family

10 Things I Hate About You was a teen comedy in 1999 that had two distinct advantages over other teen comedies: it was smart and it had a great cast, including Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Allison Janney, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Krumholtz. Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and set in Padua (High School), it depicted the various attempts – some fair, some foul – by boys of the school to woo the two sisters, Bianca and Kat.

Ten years on, ABC Family have tried to recreate the magic of the movie in a TV series, by dragging in its original director and most of the script. It’s not a bad try, but it’s just not all that.

ABC Family premieres its new original series, “10 Things I Hate About You,” a half-hour, single-cam series inspired by the 1999 hit movie of the same name, on Tuesday, July 7 (8:00 – 8:30 p.m. ET/PT). Gill Junger, who directed the movie, will be at the helm of the ABC Family series through its first several episodes, and the weekly series will be executive-produced by Carter Covington (“Greek”). Larry Miller will also reprise his role as Walter Stratford, the over-protective father to the Stratford sisters — Kat, a feminist with a razor-sharp tongue, portrayed by Lindsey Shaw (“Aliens in America”), and Bianca, a girl with a plan to climb the social ladder at her new school, portrayed by Meaghan Martin (“Camp Rock”). Ethan Peck (“Adopt a Sailor”) takes on the role of resident bad boy Patrick Verona (originated by Heath Ledger in the 1999 film). Peck is the grandson of the legendary Gregory Peck. Nicholas Braun (“Princess Protection Program”) will portray Cameron James, Padua High’s “nice guy,” and Dana Davis (“Heroes”) will portray head cheerleader Chastity Church.

“As huge fans of the ’10 Things I Hate About You’ film, it was very important to us that this new series carry on its spirit, and at the same time introduce new stories and characters that will resonate with the movie’s fans and our Millennial audience,” said Kate Juergens, EVP, Original Programming and Development, ABC Family. “With director Gil Junger helming the series and Larry Miller back as the father to the Stratford girls, the film’s unique charm is alive and well.”

The half-hour series will center on the Stratford sisters, Kat and Bianca, as they start at their new high school with very contradictory goals. Kat is a strong-willed, in-your-face feminist who is looking to save the world and get out of high school as fast as she can. Bianca is a social butterfly whose only concern is that she be popular, at any cost. As they both start out on a bumpy year at Padua High, can the girls find what it is they want navigating the popular crowd, boys and their over-protective Dad?

Is it any good?
It’s not bad, but it’s really just like any other teen TV comedy. It’s not especially clever – although it’s not dumb. Some of the cast are excellent: Lindsey Shaw (Kat) from Aliens in America is almost as good as Julia Stiles, and Larry Miller from the original film’s cast reprises his role as the two daughters’ father. But the rest are pretty poor and are over-acting to an incredible degree – with the exception of Gregory Peck’s grandson, Ethan Peck (Patrick), who seems to be trying to get by using the voice of the lead singer of Crash Test Dummies alone.

We’re also bypassing a big chunk of the original’s plot as well, with Patrick and Kat already showing interest in each other without so much as a sign of payment being offered to Patrick. Kat’s ‘shrewish’ qualities seem to be ‘having a brain and a backbone’, rather than anything too bad; and Patrick hasn’t done much to earn his bad-boy image beyond sit and glower. In other words, most of the individuality and the Shakespeare of the original has gone, even though it is gratifying to see that a smart, indie girl is the heroine of the piece.

You can see where it’s probably going, but the amount added to the plot to flesh it out to series length is merely diluting rather enhancing at the moment. Still, it’s not awful, so I’m going to stick with it. I just wish there were some flashes of originality and wit.

Here, for your delectation, is the entire first episode on YouTube. It’ll take you about 27 minutes to watch, you lucky people. Alternatively, just watch the first two minutes of each of the three vids, since they contain the best bits by some fluke.