What can I really say about this film that hasn’t already been said?
Perhaps it was only my small group of friends who love 10 Things I Hate About You as much as I love it, and most of that probably stems from the fact that this is a Shakespeare adaptation, and they are English nerds. But as far as film adaptions go, 10 Things I Hate About You is up there with some of the best, including Romeo + Juliet (which don’t worry, will get its own post soon).
So this movie, while being your stereotypical teen makeover drama flick, is also highly quotable thanks to its Shakespeare vibes. It doesn’t use the exact wording from the play, like Baz Luhrmann’s film did, but it still embodies the wonderful feeling of a Shakespeare comedy–which is to say, it leans hard into the artificialness of its plotline. For those of you who don’t know, 10 Things I Hate About You is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, where in order to date one sister (the kind and cute one), a man strikes a deal with other man to date the other sister (since she is the eponymous shrew and no one else would want to date her). Money is exchanged, and the fake dating begins. It is only after the two fall in love, of course, in spite of everything that the true romance begins–and then, of course, the true comedy of errors. In this updated version, the fake dating plot is thought through extremely well. The father in the movie is an OBGYN who doesn’t want his kids having kids too young—so that means no dating, no matter what. And the shrew character, too, has now become an ardent feminist in her senior year, sick of men, and only listens to Bikini Kill.
As a kid watching this movie, I did not understand the bulk of the references made about Kat. I barley recognized the title of the bands she likes, or the books she reads–but my god, I fell in love with her. I wanted to be her, because I felt like her. I was the odd kid out, and I tried to wear it like a badge of honour. Of course, though, that only leads you to seal off your heart, as Kat finds out and pens the love poem about hate the title is named after.
So it is easy to see how much I love this movie. I love comedies like this–especially Shakespearean ones–because the artifice (in this case, fake dating) that starts the plot never works out. It falls away by the second or third act because real feelings triumph more than games. Even when we normally date people–without the fake dating that this plotline adds on–we are still playing a game. We have rules. Etiquette. Even if we think we’ve been liberated from this, I know it’s just shifted to online texting culture and other such rules for hook-ups. These rules are there to get us started with something; to help us take a chance on someone who we might not normally. But they all fall away, all rules all artificiality, when we fall in love. That is the real goal–in my opinion–of the romance genre. Rules, leading to love. And that love, of course, conquering all.
My love of this film has also grown in the past couple years since my husband is a way bigger Shakespeare nerd than I am. He actually wanted to read part of the Taming of the Shrew at our wedding, since one of the later speeches is about devotion and the strength that comes from union. Since the word ‘shrew’ was still there, and I do have a Women’s Studies degree, he opted not to read that passage–but I understood and absolutely loved where he was coming from. Obviously, dear reader, as I married him.
Lastly, Alison Janey’s guidance counsellor role in this film is incredible. She writes erotica between her counselling sessions with students. She looks up synonyms for penis in order to make her writing that much more purple. It’s a scene I think of regularly, especially when I’ve said a particular body part too much. Now all I need is the cat mug like her, which knowing my family, shouldn’t be too hard to find.
I hope you enjoy!