10 Things I Hate About You Feeds the Teen Comedy Fire

I started watching 10 Things I Hate About You when it debuted in July because I loved the movie. I hoped desperately that it wouldn't ruin the original in typical spinoff fashion -- like how Joey ruined Friends. For Friends fans, watching Joey was torture, but not watching the show was against their principles. So I dutifully tuned in to 10 Things. Now, seven episodes in, it's gotten to the point where I actually want to watch this show not to keep comparing it to the 1999 teen comedy, but instead to see what happens to these great new characters.

They're different from their decade-old heartthrob counterparts: Bianca (Meaghan Jette Martin) is both witty and materialistic; Kat (Lindsey Shaw) is both sharp and jaded; Cameron (Nicholas Braun) is both neurotic and sensitive; and Patrick (Ethan Peck) ... well, Ethan Peck is gorgeous, but you can't really say he's better than Heath Ledger. The point is, these characters have depth -- and the right kind of depth that's appropriate enough for a television show and interesting enough for a comedy series.

How cute is it that each episode is titled after a classic song? Episode 7, "Light My Fire," was about a fire. And it was also about speaking your mind and feeding the flames of romance. Clever, no?

So, a lot of "major" things happened in this one: Bianca finally used the ol' B-word on Chastity (Dana Davis), Kat finally admitted her feelings for Patrick (and let him kiss her!), and Mr. Stratford (Larry Miller) finally got around to actually flirting with someone. Let's break it down, shall we?

By calling out Chastity, Bianca did that thing that all popular minions really want to do. And, yes, ABC family actually kept the word "bitch" in there, as well as a feisty jab at Janice Dickinson. Chastity embodies everything that is bad about high school cliques -- the self-centeredness, the secrets, the judgment, the standards -- and Bianca's cookie-cutter Moment of Clarity was every bit as satisfying as all the other fictional teenage breaking points shown in movies and on TV. But more truthful was the fact that Chastity didn't really change her behavior after the showdown -- she stayed every bit as egotistical as the day we met her.

By letting her hormones take over, Kat came to that conclusion all independent women don't really want to come to. After a few good long stare at dreamboat Patrick and a "cat lady" accusation apiece from Bianca and a random old lady, she realizes that she kinda-sorta-maybe has a fat crush on him (and with good reason -- Peck's voice is mesmerizing!). She then follows him to the roof, they make out a little, and then they ruin it with a little miscommunication. Damn teenagers.

Mr. Stratford, meanwhile, is caught off-guard and bonds with Friend-of-Woman-in-Labor (of course -- he's a gynecologist) and they discuss online dating over a bottle of $500 liquid courage.

When you throw in references to Anderson Cooper and bondage gimps, you've got yourself one hell of an intriguing script and one hell of an interesting cast of characters. I'm staying with this one.

10 Things I Hate About You airs on Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.

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