The late ’90s saw a glut of mostly forgettable teen movies come and go at the multiplex, but 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You managed to stand out. Transplanting Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew to a modern-day high school setting, it launched the careers of Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. And while those other teen flicks gather dust, 10 Things has been granted new life as a TV series.
Coming to ABC Family beginning July 7, the plot of the half-hour comedy is essentially the same as the film: Sisters Kat and Bianca adjust to life at Padua High while living under the microscope of their loving but intrusive dad, Walter Stratford (Larry Miller, who played the same role in the film). Lindsey Shaw stars as Kat, a rebel determined to show people she doesn’t care what they think, while Meaghan Jette Martin is Bianca, who never met a popular person whose ring she didn’t kiss. The two should just be able to stay out of each other’s way, but their father has imposed the rather Shakespearean rule that Bianca cannot start dating until her older sister does.
This seems like a bad turn for Bianca until Kat finds herself inexplicably drawn to a mysterious loner named Patrick Verona (Ethan Peck), who seems equally taken with her. Shaw (Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide) says that as Kat discovers new emotions within herself, she’s forced to re-examine her whole outlook on life.
“She runs into situations and people — especially with this boy — where she finds herself exposed more than she ever has been, and she realizes that those feelings that she never thought were there [are] surfacing,” Shaw says. “Because of that she’s having to reflect on how she’s judged her sister, who always operates off those feelings. She’s realizing it’s OK to be a kid, it’s OK to be a teenager, it’s OK to be excited by stuff that isn’t going to save the world.”
Calling herself a fan of the film, Shaw said she could always relate to Kat’s guardedness and feeling she needed to put on a brave front. On the flip side, she says costar Martin (Camp Rock) is “an open book,” which makes her perfect casting for Bianca.
Holding them together is Miller, who plays Walter much the same way he did in the film, as a single dad — widowed this time, instead of divorced — trying to come to grips with his daughters becoming young women.
“He’s a guy who just doesn’t understand why his life is changing,” Miller says. “He’s someone who cares deeply about his daughters, and he’s going to hold onto his life as rigidly as he can.”
The decision to reprise his role was easy, Miller says, after he was contacted by the film’s director, Gil Junger, who also directed the pilot. Not only was it a chance for the journeyman actor to return to one of his more well-known characters, but Walter isn’t the typical dumb-dad so often found on TV.
“That’s one of the things I felt, ‘You know what, [we’ve had] enough idiots as fathers for the last 20 years,'” he said. “That’s fine that we’ve seen that. If it’s funny, it’s funny, but it can be enough. This guy can be right, too. He might use extravagant measures to try to get the point across, but … his heart’s in the right place.”
Photo: © 2009 DISNEY ENTERPRISES, INC. Credit: Vivian Zink. All rights reserved.