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October 9, 2015

10 Things I Hate About You: Pilot (series premiere)

by Jason Hughes, posted Jul 8th 2009 1:38AM
10 Things I Hate About You(S01E01) Just as the new Parenthood series coming to NBC is a re-imagining of the classic movie, 10 Things I Hate About You is a very loose take on the film of the same name. And the film itself is a loose take on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. The only real connection to that source is an early name-drop for the playwright.

If you let yourself get frustrated at how this doesn't even come close to mirroring some of the themes of Shakespeare's comedy, you'll miss out on what the show does offer, besides Larry Miller reprising his role from the movie as the sisters' father. Just think of it as a high school comedy featuring two very different sisters. In this one episode, we got pretty effective glimpses of virtually every social strata that exists in a high school. It's no My So-Called Life, but 10 Things does a pretty good job of being a family high school comedy. And isn't that what it's trying to be?

I really expected to not like this because ... well, I'm not a teenager and I'm not a girl. But I did go through high school, and things really haven't changed all that much; either that or the writers are my age and as out of touch as I am. This captured pretty well the social cliques that existed when I was there back in the stone age.

In the beginning, I found myself far more interested in sister Kat (Lindsey Shaw) as the acerbic "future activist" than I was in Bianca's (Meaghan Jette Martin) efforts to be shallowly accepted by the popular kids. Kat's just so much fun to watch as she's wrecking the head cheerleader's car and out-brooding the brooding guy ... what was up with his deep voice?

As the episode progressed, it was the dynamic between the two worlds represented by Bianca and Kat that I found myself enjoying. We had some of those same diverse dynamics in my family going to school, and it is amazing how who you're related to can impact your social standing. It was also gratifying to see that despite their differences, the sisters do care about one another, or at least Kat does as proven by the lengths she went to to get her sister on the cheerleading squad. I think Chastity should still get some bad pics in the yearbook for making Bianca the penguin, though.

One of the strengths was the strong dialogue throughout. Whether it's Dad Stratford nudging his daughters into doing the right thing or the interactions of the kids, each beat reads pretty authentic. The entire cast is doing outstanding work in their roles, as well, even if they are fairly one-dimensional for now. Likening Bianca's social standing as a new student on the first day to the kids at Hogwarts before they approach the Sorting Hat was not only an accurate comparison, but in one line it established the geekiness of Michael and Joey.

Can I also say that I enjoy the height difference between these two; I love the dopiness of the second-string quarterback who isn't good enough for the bitch on heels, Chastity. Hell, I even enjoyed the principal laughing at the idea that equality existed in the school.

Whether the show stays strong is going to depend on allowing these characters to find that second and ultimately third dimension to their personalities. There's a lot of room for greatness, and these actors seem up to the task of adding some depth to the series. I can easily see the show tackling some tough teenage issues without coming across as too preachy, based on the strength of acting and writing I've seen so far.

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Doctor Cranium

I have to disagree: as soon as high school comedies try to add depth to their characters they stop being funny or relevant to anyone who isn't in high school.

The makers need to look at the Clueless TV series as an example of how to transfer a high school movie to the small screen. Imagine if Cher's personality had layers and dimensions: it just wouldn't work.


July 20 2009 at 8:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that Kat was way more interesting than Bianca. Hopefully the showrunners will realize that and switch the focus in her direction. Otherwise I can see this as one of the shows I TiVo, then fast forward through one of the characters' scenes.

And yes, this show doesn't have all that much in common with the film but I can see the wisdom in keeping the name: I wouldn't have TiVo'd it if it weren't connected to the movie I liked so much.

July 09 2009 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Just think of it as a high school comedy featuring two very different sisters."

Then why couldn't they have just written a brand-new show without horridly destroying the legacy of a classic 1990s high school movie? I hated the show. It was terrible.

July 09 2009 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree! Larry Miller was my favorite part last night. It was like he just picked up his role from the movie and kept going. It was perfect! I loved Ethan Peck too. He was gorgeous. I can't wait to see what is in store for us next week!

July 08 2009 at 5:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm not likely to watch this regularly, but I may give it a look-see for Larry Miller. I am glad to see Lindsey Shaw's still working, though.

July 08 2009 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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