Every so often, I’ll remember the existence of ABC Family’s 10 Things I Hate About You that aired between 2009-2010, and I’ll get upset all over again because the series deserved a second season. I’ll also promptly rewatch the short 20 episodes in the first season to remind myself why I appreciated it so much.
The TV series isn’t perfect by any means, and it pales in comparison to the film, but it’s still well done, and Ethan Peck is the ideal Patrick Verona. Alongside Peck, 10 Things I Hate About You stars Lindsey Shaw, Meagan Martin, Nicholas Braun, Dana Davis, Ally Maki, Chris Zylka, Larry Miller as Walter Stratford, and more in the kind of adaptation that could’ve been even better in 2022. The potential was always there in the TV series, and where it succeeds is in its means of working through romantic comedy tropes.
Perhaps, if it were initially advertised as a mini-series back then, showrunners could have succeeded in telling the story they wanted during the 20-episode run. TV adaptations and tactics were relatively different back then, and internet fandoms weren’t loud enough to potentially score a renewal like for NBC’s Timeless or Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, among other shows.
The TV series naturally follows typical high school stereotypes fiction tends to harp on, but at the very least, it’s the maturity with Kat and Patrick that works so well to get to the beating heart of the series’ love story. Ethan Peck and Lindsey Shaw are both riveting as their respective characters, and their chemistry is sizzling. There’s a specific episode I’ve always remembered most vividly, Season 1, Episode 7, “Light My Fire,” where they give in to the burning longing between them right in front of an actual fire blazing in the distance.
It’s not the kind of first kiss that ends well, but it’s still worth remembering, as is the entire episode where moments of quiet vulnerability allow characters to slightly open up about their fears regarding what they could lose. There’s also a fantastic moment in this very episode where despite the argument their rooftop kiss ends with, Patrick goes out of his way to save her vinyl records, knowing many of them belonged to her mother.
It’s moments like this followed by everything that subsequently happens in the last few episodes, which show us that their means of challenging one another and bringing out the best in each other could’ve led to one of the most outstanding TV romantic relationships of all time. The final few episodes focus on some of the best tropes like sneaking around, doing little things for each other, quiet moments of vulnerability, and even when it all hits the fan, the series manages to clarify where it goes south, which is perhaps the most shocking part of it.
10 Things I Hate About You starts with a relatively intriguing first season with strong potential, but the cancellation never allows that to come full circle by the finale. The audience is left with more unanswered questions than a satisfying conclusion. And that isn’t to say it ends so badly, it isn’t worth watching (because some canceled shows sadly have this outcome), but when you see the potential, it’s hard not to want more. Still, where Patrick and Kat’s fans are concerned, their arc works.
We all adore Nicholas Braun as Cousin Greg in HBO’s Succession, but let’s not forget that this was one of his best roles too. Braun’s Cameron James is a damn delight. The characters each give us ample humor and growth by the end of the season, but there’s still much to learn about them and where they’ll end up. Cameron is one of those characters, as is Meagan Martin’s Bianca, who finds her own voice while it’s consistently changing, and she herself is still learning plenty. And Larry Miller, of course, steals every scene he’s in with the kind of hilarity only he could master for this role.
Much like the film, the heart of the series is essentially the development between Patrick and Kat’s romantic relationship while simultaneously focusing on the Stratford sisters and how they navigate with a highly overprotective father. We get barely enough development with the Stratford family, and while that isn’t to say that great moments don’t exist, more would’ve been better.
The same goes for characters like Cameron, Chastity, and even Joey—without a proper conclusion, much of it is left to our own imagination. Will Chastity really move to a new school? Will Dawn and Cameron last? What’ll happen to Joey on the reality show? Will Kat’s words about her classmates on the day of the election have consequences? And what about that horrifically awkward ending? It’s too late to bring it back now, isn’t it?
10 Things I Hate About You is now streaming on Hulu. Did you watch the series back in the day? What are your thoughts about it? What would you have liked to see? Let us know in the comments below.