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I burn, I pine, I perish” for the movie 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). This masterpiece has been my favorite film since my sophomore year of high school. To date, I have watched the entire movie over 100 times. Obviously, I love this movie, and here are some reasons why you should too!

Academic Excellence, Kind of

Loosely based off of Shakespeare’s classic The Taming of the Shrew, this film gives the story with the added appeal of 1990s high school drama, while still incorporating iconic lines and other references to Shakespeare’s life. However, there are some major deviations from the original play, making this version a novel and exciting adaptation.

Girl! Power!

One of the biggest deviations in this movie from the original Shakespearean plot is that of female power. In the play, Katherina (Kate) is eventually “tamed” by her husband, Petrucio, and encourages other women to obey their husbands at all costs. Even her monologue ends with “Even such a woman oweth to her husband; And when she is forward, peevish, sullen, sour, And not obedient to his honest will, What is she but a foul contending rebel And graceless traitor to her loving lord?” 10 Things, on the other hand, allows Katarina (Kat) to be a strong, independent woman who finds love while remaining true to herself throughout the story; a trait that drew in the acting talents of Larisa Oleynik. 

Raunchy Humor

Let’s start with the fact that Ms. Perky, the guidance counselor at Padua, is writing an erotic novel during her time at the high school. The students are also aware of this novel, as Kate clearly says, “I'll let you get back to Reginald's quivering member” when in conversation with Ms. Perky. With the addition of Mr. Stratford’s anger toward teenage pregnancy and Joey’s sexual comments peppered throughout the movie, Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith did a spectacular job at pushing this PG13 rating to its limits (and a more R rated script that was eventually nixed due to excessive vulgar language can be found here). 

The MUSIC

Picture this: you open on an aerial shot of a large, Seattle-based high school and “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies is playing. You have just entered the world of 10 Things I Hate About You. As the film continues, the soundtrack adds to each scene in ways that other filmmakers are unable to replicate: viewers find themselves transported to a high school house party with the voice of the Notorious B.I.G. reverberating through their heads. Others can feel the sweat that accompanies watching Letters to Cleo live in a club. By pulling music from not only the 90s, but also from the 80s and 70s, Richard Gibbs was able to produce a soundtrack that accurately represents the film with high quality music. 

Star-Studded Cast

Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Allison Janney, Gabrielle Union, and Larry Miller (yes, this is Paolo from the Princess Diaries) are some of the stars that play a role in bringing this film to life. This was my first introduction to the talents of Heath Ledger (yes, I know that The Dark Knight is amazing, but it took me a few years to appreciate it) and I have been a fan ever since. 

Dynamic Characters with Perfect One-Liners

This is pretty straightforward, so here are some of my favorites:

“Chastity: Mr. Stratford, it's just a party.

Mr. Stratford: And hell is just a sauna.”

“Patrick: Who needs affection when I have blind hatred?”

“Chastity: I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?

Bianca Stratford: I think you can in Europe.”

“Chastity: Well if you must know, a small study group of friends.

Mr. Stratford: Otherwise known as an orgy.”

“Joey: Shit Bianca I’m shooting a nose spray ad tomorrow!”

“Ms. Perky: Bratwurst? Aren't we the optimist?”

Applicable Life Lessons

After watching this film a handful of times, a few scenes stand out when I consider the lessons that it attempts to promote. One scene occurs after Bougie’s party, when Cameron wants to give up on his pursuit of Bianca. Patrick, however, uses this moment of defeat to remind Cameron to “[not] let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want.” Kat supports a similar self-confidence memo when speaking to Bianca. She emphasizes that “You don’t always have to be who they want you to be,” encouraging her sister to be her own person who doesn’t succumb to the pressures of popularity. 

Heath: a Triple Threat!

Actor? Yes. Singer? I guess so. Dancer? How does he do it all?! I'm still unsure about how he learned to look so comfortable singing in front of a crowded football field, but he does, and it is one of the most iconic scenes of the entire film. Not only has this scene impacted my expectations of a public love profession, but it has also taken over my laptop, as I have two stickers of Heath dancing on the bleachers on the front. Oops!

Now remember, this love is not reserved for young women with a love for Australian accents. Even Gil Junger, the casting director, admitted to having told his coworkers the following after Ledger’s audition: “Ladies, I have never wanted to sleep with a man, but if I had to sleep with a man, that would be the man. Please cast him immediately.”

THE Poem

“I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair.

I hate the way you drive my car.

I hate it when you stare.

I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind.

I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme.

I hate the way you’re always right.

I hate it when you lie.

I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry.

I hate it when you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t call.

But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you.

Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.”

A beautiful sonnet spoken aloud to Kat’s english class about her relationship with Patrick. What makes this poem so iconic? The fact that Julia Stiles filmed that scene with real, emotion-filled tears

A Story for Every Person

As of today, I've convinced 10 different boys to watch this film, without me present, in an attempt to woo me. How does this happen? After initially convincing them to start the film, they find themselves drawn into the story and humor. Although traditionally labeled as a “rom-com,” 10 Things provides various aspects of entertainment to all types of people, even those who despise the rom-com genre. 

So, go out! Spread the good news that 10 Things I Hate About You is a masterpiece that will continue to be loved throughout the generations!

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Kate Uganski

Notre Dame '20

Lover of the Great Lakes, Heath Ledger and the color yellow. A neuroscience and behavior student with plans to become a pediatrician. Strong believer in summer camps and trips to Europe.
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