Not much to like or hate amid predictable teen angst
The 1999 movie “10 Things I Hate About You’’ was a distinctive teen flick because 1) it was loosely modeled after Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,’’ 2) it served as Heath Ledger’s breakthrough, and 3) it had some charm despite its tired plot. The new TV series adaptation of “10 Things I Hate About You’’ is distinctive only because it’s based on the 1999 movie.
Otherwise, this ABC Family high school comedy, which airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m., is run-of-the-mill TV material. The names amusingly reference Shakespeare - Patrick Verona, for instance, and Kat Stratford - but the characters are all blandly prototypical teens running in over-familiar cliques. There’s nothing really awful about “10 Things I Hate About You,’’ but at the same time there’s nothing special enough to make it better than watchable.
Sisters Kat (Lindsey Shaw) and Bianca (Meaghan Martin) are polar opposites. Kat’s political and tough-minded, and she mutters over her breakfast about how “we’re the world’s last superpower and yet we don’t have universal healthcare.’’ Bianca is superficial and eager to be a cheerleader, and she defines herself by the boys she dates. Their single father, played on the show and in the movie by Larry Miller, is farcically overprotective, and he won’t allow Bianca to date until Kat does. When his daughters started at a new high school in last week’s debut episode, he had these words of wisdom: “Remember the most important thing: Don’t get pregnant.’’
Romantic chaos ensues. Patrick (Ethan Peck, Gregory’s grandson), a boy with soulful eyes and rogue attitude, may be interested in Kat, while Kat is piqued by this “Captain Intensity.’’ A geeky guy named Cameron (Nicholas Braun) has a crush on Bianca, but she has chemistry - and chemistry class - with the boy coveted by the school’s vindictive head cheerleader, Chastity Church (Dana Davis). What else can a bunch of love-struck teens do except go to a keg party (with nonalcoholic beer) and screw it all up?
The script tends to toss out weak jokes, and it telegraphs the nature of each character to us, in case we can’t already tell the difference between the nerd and the dumb blonde, or the bad boy and the goody-goody. The most interesting character is Kat, and Lindsey Shaw makes her self-righteousness more than tolerable. Kat hates everything her sister loves, and yet she isn’t shrill or inhumane in her superiority. That’s the one thing I really liked about “10 Things I Hate About You.’’