#SuchStuff s5 e1: 10 Things I Hate About You
In the latest instalment of our Such Stuff podcast, we discuss the iconic movie released 21 years ago that was inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew
SEASON 5 EPISODE 1
10 Things I Hate About You
In the first episode of a new series specially created in light of recent circumstances, we travel back in time to 1999 to Padua High School, Seattle, to explore the wonderful world of iconic teen film 10 Things I Hate About You.
21 years to the day since the movie was first released, we ask: does transposing The Taming of the Shrew to an American high school work? How has the film dated? And how does one of Shakespeare’s most difficult plays transform into a romance that left the best part of a generation besotted with Heath Ledger?
Watch the film too and let us know what you think.
‘I know you can be overwhelmed and I know you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?’
— 10 Things I Hate About You
You can download the episode transcript or read it below.
Imogen Greenberg: Hello, and welcome to Such Stuff, the podcast from Shakespeare’s Globe.
This is the first episode in a new series of Such Stuff, specially produced in light of recent events.
No theatre ever wants to close its doors to audiences. A play isn’t a production without our audience. But in extraordinary times come extraordinary measures. This isn’t the first time a Globe theatre has closed its doors under similar circumstances – Shakespeare himself was no stranger to such measures – but we hope it’s the last.
Stay safe, look after yourselves, and until we meet again… we’ve been working hard to put together performances, conversations, and inspirations to bring to you in isolation. We’ll be exploring the extraordinary work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, looking at the transformative impact he’s had on our world, and exploring how he continues to inspire hope and creativity in times of global crisis.
There’s nothing quite like live theatre. But we’ve been thinking about all the ways we can create those connections, that feeling of being in the room. So we’ll be bringing you as much performance as we can on the podcast. And episodes will often include a watch or read along element. Join the conversation on social media, where you can also find out more about posing questions for Michelle Terry and Paul Ready. They’ll be joining us for a new feature on the podcast, the Shakespeare Diaries.
Now, as chance would have it… it’s 21 years to the day since the release of the iconic film 10 Things I Hate About You. A classic of the teen rom com genre, it’s not always immediately obvious that it was inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
So how does one of Shakespeare’s most difficult, even unpalatable plays, transform into a romance that left the best part of a generation besotted with Heath Ledger?
I chatted to Charlotte, Courtney and Ryo from our Communications team about growing up with 10 Things I Hate About You, whether transposing the play into an American high school in the 90s works… and how we look back on the film 21 years later.
So, stick around and you’ll hear from Charlotte…
Charlotte Horobin: I first watched it, it was a sleepover, I didn’t realise it was based on The Taming of the Shrew at all, I just watched it as like a classic teen rom com and I thought it was like, the best thing ever. I was like 12 or 13 and just like seeing Heath Ledger do his thing was great. I thought all future relationships would involve a guy singing over the school tanoy, ‘I just can’t take my eyes off you’.
IG: Did it ever happen?
CH: No it did not, unfortunately and no brass band played. There were no, you know, big gestures. But hey ho, we can dream.
IG: And here’s Courtney…
Courtney Caton: It’s weird ’cause I can’t remember the first time I actually watched this film but I remember there being a definite point once I got to university where it was just a reoccurrence and it was… if you were having a girls night, that would be a film that you would… like in the same way that everyone falls back on Mean Girls, 10 Things just became… and particularly when I was starting out working in London, post graduation and like, other female friends, that would be a film that we’d be like, always coming back to. There’s something about it and I can’t put my finger on it that’s just inherently watchable, it’s so quote-able, so funny.
IG: I forgot how funny it was.
CC: Honestly. ‘It’s just a party, and hell is just a sauna!’ Iconic.
IG: And finally, Ryo…
Ryo Tabusa: As a younger person, I didn’t really have a lot of appreciation for Shakespeare. But things like this and you know, things like West Side Story etc, did make me go ‘OK, maybe I should give Shakespeare more of a shot’ than I was already giving him.
IG: We’d love to know what you make of 10 Things I Hate About You twenty one years on… and if you’ve never seen it before, what better time to indulge in a little escapism? So please do watch along with us and let us know what you think on social media!
So, without further ado… let’s go back in time to 1999, to Padua High School, Seattle, where we lay our scene.
Sisters Kat and Bianca live with their overprotective father. Kat is an outspoken feminist who refuses to play the high school game, whilst all beautiful younger sister Bianca wants to do is date boys. Their father strikes a deal: if Kat dates, then Bianca can too. Step forward new boy Cameron, who has a crush on Bianca. He manipulates jock Joey – who also wants to date Bianca – into paying social outcast and bad boy Patrick to take out Kat. So Cameron and Joey both like Bianca, Bianca likes Joey or maybe Cameron… Kat doesn’t like anyone and nor does Patrick… except maybe they both like each other after all? What could possibly go wrong?
IG: The Taming of the Shrew…
IG: Not my favourite Shakespeare play.
CC: No and if I’m honest, I’m not incredibly familiar with it because it’s not, when you’re looking at the list, the one you go to for fun, pro-women content. There’s so much in that play I think which is unforgivable. But I think there’s so much in the movie that those actors make forgivable and earnest and sort of loveable within those characters that you sort of see them more as people. I think particularly with the way Petruchio is adapted to that character in 10 Things, you understand you do why he’s doing what he’s doing, he’s a fleshed out character, he’s not just a, you know, inherent misogynist, you see him have regret, you see him apologise, there is cause. Yeah. I think it goes part way to make those characters redeemable. I think he is written to be… in the same way actually that you hear about Kat and she’s hyped up, she’s sort of gaslighted as this terrible, terrible character when actually she’s just fighting against things that she doesn’t believe in, Petruchio in the film you hear… Patrick. His name is Patrick in the film?
CC: They have all these rumours about him and he’s crazy and he’s eaten a duck and he’s done all these things and he hasn’t. And you’re sort of like, actually we don’t really know anything about this guy other than what everyone is telling us.
IG: And that sort of puts… obviously there’s power games involved, but it sort of puts Kat and Patrick on more of an equal footing.
IG: Because they’re both part of this like strange high school where like they’re being told to be certain ways and they don’t want to and that makes them outcasts and actually what’s interesting I think, is there’s something dangerous about both of them. Whereas in the play, it’s Kat that’s dangerous, she’s subverting what you should do. And actually in this, Patrick is subverting what you should be, because he’s not Joey.
CC: No, he’s not. And I think from the beginning, Kat also has such a degree of agency that the characters… they also don’t question the way she is, they say she’s distant, she’s heinous, she’s this. But that I don’t think is meant as such a negative in the way that it is reinforced in the play to confine her character. Whereas even with her dad, that relationship of ‘have you upset anyone today’ and she says, ‘it’s only half past four’ and he’s like, you know what yeah, she’s just my daughter, she does whatever she wants and I don’t have the control I want to have but I just have to accept that whereas…
IG: Yeah and I really like that moment at the end when Kat tells the father that Bianca beat the shit out of Joey and says, I’m sorry I rubbed off on her’…
IG: As if he wants his daughter to be something else and he’s like no.
CC: You can be you.
IG: You can be anything you like. And you never get that moment in the play.
CC: No, not at all. But there isn’t room for it in the time that Shakespeare was writing. There was no freedom in that society. The two are almost not comparable in that way. Because of course if you were going to write an adaptation of Shrew these days, you would have all of the fun playful things that the movie has and really works with.
IG: Can we talk about female ambition?
IG: ‘Cause for me, that’s one of the things that, yeah, as you say the characters don’t get a chance to have in the play [laughs] and I think what I really like is the different ways it manifests itself in the film.
IG: So you have Kat who really wants to go to Sarah Lawrence. You even have the guidance councillor…
CC: Yeah [laughs].
IG: …writing like smutty fiction.
CC: Allison Janney is just the best.
IG: I forgot Allison Janney was in that film!
CC: She pops up everywhere in pop culture. You forget and then you see her and she is just perfect.
IG: She’s so perfect! You know, you’ve got a lot of women writing, you’ve got a lot of women with aspiration, you’ve got the best friend who loves Shakespeare and you’ve got… I think Bianca’s arc is really interesting…
IG: …’cause all she wants at the beginning is what she’s supposed to want.
IG: And by the end of the film, she takes agency, she beats the crap out of Joey, in many ways she makes a lot of decisions that are made for Kat like which guy she’s going to choose.
CC: Yeah. 100% and I think that’s what I definitely love about that film, that it’s so relatable. I think I growing up, sort of Harry Potter era, Hermione Granger, that sort of studious, loving books and not being afraid to enjoy what reading and knowledge has to offer you and how empowering that can actually be, people see themselves in that and I think you see that throughout Katerina, Bianca and even her best friend, the different types of femininity and positives and negatives of that.
IG: And I guess, the moral of the story is, high school ends.
CC: [Laughs] Yeah.
IG: You can reinvent yourself but like, in some ways that’s one of the things I find interesting about the ending when she gets back together with Patrick and you feel a little bit uncomfortable about it given that everything’s happened but you’re like, she’s leaving, she’s going to New York, like…
CC: And also there’s that streak of independence that although he’s apologised and she’s accepted his apology, she’s not held to that for the rest of her life.
CC: She’s still got agency, she could turn around and say ‘You know what, I don’t want you, this is it’. You know, ‘I’m going to live my life’. And you firmly believe that more than you believe and almost want the two of them to stay together at the end of the film.
IG: Transposing the play to an American high school in the 90s… does it work, does it solve any of the problems that we as a modern audience have with a play like The Taming of the Shrew?
RT: Well, starting with ‘does it work’, I think surprisingly, especially Hollywood American high school, how it’s depicted and the sort of caricatures of all these different personality types, I think it does work? It sort of showcases what I think watching sometimes The Taming of the Shrew now are over-exaggerated and almost too unbelievable characteristics. In an American high school setting, again for Hollywood, you think: yeah that makes sense: total jock, total bad boy, total you know, geek. You don’t even question it. So yeah, I think the setting works really well and… what was the second part of your question?
IG: Er, does it solve some of our like you know, moral issues with the play like… you know, there’s no… they change a lot of Petruchio / Patrick’s behaviour. It’s still not great, you know he gets paid to take Kat out on dates…
RT: Yeah, it’s all very problematic.
IG: He manipulates her and lies to her, yet they still end up together. It’s not great.
RT: It’s not great, but again I think by pulling it back to a high school level, what it does… so this is something I was thinking about, when growing up with 10 Things I Hate About You, obviously a lot of my school friends, we all watched it together and there was a lot of… I think what you do with the characters in 10 Things that you don’t necessarily do with the characters in The Taming of the Shrew is… Cameron and Patrick end up acting as a bit of a scale as to what kind of, as a guy, what kind of guy you think you are? Like between Cameron and Patrick, no one wants to admit they’re full Patrick, a full jerk and you know, does some questionable things. But then at the same time no one wants to admit they’re full Cameron, because he’s too nice, he too almost dweeby.
RT: Right? So people try and find themselves on a spectrum but they want to admit they have characteristics of both. Whereas I don’t think you do that with Petruchio and Lucentio, you see them as two very different… 10 Things I think brings it back enough that you still think of him as the bad boy characteristic of society, but you still want to be slightly like him and not just a full Cameron.
IG: He’s redeemably bad.
RT: Yes, redeemably bad.
IG: Whereas Petruchio feels fully irredeemable. But it’s really interesting what you say about that spectrum, because I feel like there was much less of a conversation around toxic masculinity, and how you bring up boys and all of that kind of thing which we are much more comfortable with having now…
IG: So the idea that a film that as you say explores type and caricature could become a model for where you fall in the high school spectrum is really interesting. ‘Cause you know, no one wants to be the really dweeby best friend.
RT: Yeah [laughs].
IG: And actually it’s interesting that you say Cameron is one end of the spectrum because re-watching it there was stuff that felt a little bit, you know, he’s interested in Bianca despite the fact that she’s incredibly vapid…
RT: Yes [laughs].
IG: For the first half, she also has an interesting, redeemable character arc. But the first half of the film, she doesn’t know if whelmed is a word and he’s like ‘She’s so interesting’ and his friends like ‘No, she’s not!’. There’s some slightly odd like, almost incel stuff…
RT: Yeah [laughs].
IG: …going on in the middle about what you deserve, what girl you deserve in this social spectrum which is really interesting.
RT: Well I mean that’s been built up I think by years I think of Hollywood deciding what that, you know, the ultimate girl next door is. And Bianca, I think they do a good job of not giving you so much of her that you like hate her or love her right away, you’re still trying to figure her out. Even though, she should be quite a simple character with ‘whelmed’. And her, what appears to be a sort of surface level, only about looks. You still don’t know enough, you’re like maybe there’s more depth to her, you’re waiting to find out. And I think Hollywood has spent a long time trying to paint that type of character as the one you want, the aspiration. I mean you look… I’ve been spending a lot of time recently watching 1920s musicals, and it’s always the case, you get just enough character in the female lead that you’re like, ahhh, I will follow her and then nothing else for the rest and then its just things that happen to her. Whereas when they created Katerina, they tell you so much about her and they paint several characters in the film right away as ‘I want to stay away from her, because she’s just not me’. Cameron is almost representing the audiences that Hollywood want to be immediately… I mean I think there’s a slight slow motion moment when he first sees her.
RT: And then that’s what we’re all trying to be programmed to see the Bianca type as, the sort of slow motion, that’s who I want, I don’t even know anything about her, I want to find out.
IG: In that way, does the film sort of undermine some of those Hollywood tropes, because Bianca becomes more interesting as the film goes on.
IG: She realises that Joey’s awful, she falls for Cameron, and she takes control. She’s the one who’s like, why haven’t you asked me out yet? And then beats the crap out of Joey at the prom. And in some ways. she has a more… I mean she still ends up with the guy, it’s still…
IG: You know, it’s still very Hollywood. But she does have a more interesting arc and I think rewatching it I was struck by how much it wanted to play with and undermine some of those tropes as how much it sort of adhered to them at the same time.
RT: Yeah because it does a sort of similar thing with Katerina, doesn’t it, or Katherine. Because she starts off as the sort of hates everybody, wants to stay away from all guys. But you find out slowly she’s got the softer side and there’s a reason for her…
IG: Her behaviour.
RT: Yeah, yeah, no it’s absolutely interesting that you see both those journeys throughout and how they meet. And I guess that brings them closer together as sisters.
IG: Yeah, the sister arc is a very interesting one. And also, you know, speaking of tropes, there is actually a point where someone calls her ‘a difficult woman’.
RT: Yes [laughs].
IG: And that’s a very Shakespeare, that is in The Taming of the Shrew in a very big way. But I guess what’s interesting about this is it gets under the skin of why she is the way she is and how she is responding to the world around her, how she’s responding to the Joey’s of the world and the Patrick’s of the world… The ending of 10 Things I Hate About You…
IG: …is not always one that I feel comfortable with. Like, he buys her a guitar and she’s like ‘you can’t just buy me a guitar’. But she kisses him anyway.
RT: Yeah [laughs].
IG: And that is a very rom com ending. You’re used to that happening but I think that because there’s so many aspects of Kat that you want to identify with as a teenage girl, like you want to not be defined by boys…
IG: You want to have aspiration and ambition, she has great speeches about Hemingway and terrible male authors, which is like, always fun and very formative.
IG: And then she sort of just ends the film by getting back with him.
RT: Yes [laughs].
IG: And you’re like oh god. So maybe it doesn’t…
RT: Well it’s the Hollywood trope of cut it off before we see them fight again. You’re just like zoom out, zoom out, bam, done.
IG: Yeah. All rom coms end with them getting together because no relationship is the Hollywood version.
RT: Yeah and you’ve seen them go through a difficult time so you’re like fun. I mean it’s interesting because he does buy the guitar and yes, that’s questionable as to whether or not it was appropriate, the right thing to do. But you do feel that Patrick has gone through a bit of a journey of… whether or not he’s getting there for the first time or whether or not he’s rediscovering that he’s actually not awful as a person. And that I think you don’t get so much in The Taming of the Shrew.
IG: Let’s talk about tropes.
IG: I guess how much does it subvert and how much does it adhere to some of those rom com high school tropes? Kat is very much portrayed as like a difficult woman, which does come from the play but it is also a high school trope, like if you think about Janis Ian, Mean Girls.
IG: I guess how you see the soft side of Kat, but does it also reinforce a certain type of difficult woman.
CC: I think one of the interesting things that I found was how, it’s much easier I think to forgive I think the men in the film than it is to forgive the women.
IG: That’s so interesting.
CC: In the way that you have you know, Joseph Gordon Levitt… his character says some really difficult things about you know, I did all these things for you and I expected you to like me, which you read on paper as really quite awful but because he’s Joseph Gordon Levitt and because he’s an adorable young man, you think you know what, he’s sorry, I forgive it. Same with Patrick. He buys her a guitar and you think you know what, he’s apologised. And that’s the standard that we hold men to and that’s not even the bare minimum and we’re OK with that. Whereas this woman has just, this young girl has lived her life unapologetically and we hate her for it. Why is that?
IG: One of the things I always found interesting about Kat is that throughout the film she so keeps herself to herself, she keeps the secret about Joey, she’s really hard around the outside, and you watch her like be ripped open and expose herself and there’s something… like the scene when she reads the poem in class, I struggle to watch that.
CC: Oh, no, I love that scene!
IG: Do you?
CC: Because she’s being so… I think there’s something really painfully honest about that where she’s so afraid, but she’s almost not afraid of being afraid anymore and she’s like you know what I can’t take holding this in, I just have to let it out and I’ve put up this shell and it’s too much, I’m just going to be honest and raw and move on from it. Because I have to see this guy in my class everyday, I have to stare at him and I have to just get that out and then I can process. There’s something quite admirable about that.
IG: It makes it a braver grand gesture than his, which is to sing a fun song. And we all love that scene but…
CC: And I think particularly because, and I know quite a lot about the film, but I’m pretty sure that scene was improvised by Julia Styles. I think there’s something about that that is inherently more special than the very obvious known, choreographed scene, which we do all love. It’s a great scene. But at the same time, if you were seeing… I mean they’re both fairly awkward scenes to be fair but I think if I had someone like Patrick singing at me I would find it so cringe-worthy, whereas if you’re in a class and you see someone breaking down, awful to watch but actually there’s something so much more human…
CC: …about that scene of hers than his.
IG: And I mean the grand gesture is the other big high school trope…
IG: …that runs through this film.
CC: Yup. He sings a song, he buys her a guitar. He might as well hold up a boom box to her window and say I’m sorry. You know, makes it all OK. But another question, if it wasn’t Heath Ledger, it was a less socially, conventionally attractive person, would we like all of those things? He buys her presents to get her back on side. He makes a massive public display of affection when she might be uncomfortable with that. Those are potential flags.
CC: But it’s done in such a way that…
IG: We accept it.
CC: We accept it. And it’s so strange.
CC: And it’s one of my favourite films but I’m hearing myself say this and thinking gosh, I know that’s not right.
IG: One of the things I found really interesting is how much it has and hasn’t dated. The English teacher…
IG: …who schools them all on intersectionality in 1998 is great!
CC: It’s so wonderful and just that idea of… I don’t think we talk much about class in romance in some ways. I think often when we’re looking at romance tropes, the only sort of intersect we look at is whether it’s feminist or not and class, race doesn’t really come into that.
IG: The one thing I found quite sad rewatching the film is Chastity.
IG: The best friend. I mean a classic trope, the black best friend. But also completely irredeemable.
IG: In a way that all the characters in this film, you get under their skin…
IG: …and you understand why they are the way they are.
IG: But we never get a reason for why Chastity behaves the way she does.
CC: I mean the only way I can try and attempt to justify her behaviour is thinking about it in terms of colourism, and you’re black and your best friend is white. And everyone looks at her and everyone say’s she’s beautiful. And suddenly someone looks at you and decides I don’t want her or she doesn’t want me, and you’re second best. Actually for a lot of black women, I say this being brown, that is socially impressed upon you whether you believe it or choose to believe it or not. I think that is subconsciously there. So for her to sort of say, you know what, screw this, I’m gonna be beautiful for once, I’m gonna be attractive and I’m gonna be wanted. I think that’s what I see now, I didn’t see that before. But that’s the only way I can sort of try and understand where she’s coming from. But also it could just be that she’s a mean person who happens to be black but in this day and age, those two things don’t go without meaning.
CC: And they create more meaning and you can’t ignorantly combine those two things anymore.
IG: I think it’s really interesting what you say ’cause there is that line when she says ‘hey, you passed’.
IG: And there’s a real acknowledgement there that she is second best and she knows that.
IG: And that that’s grim.
CC: And you just do what you have to do and be like, you know what, somebody wants me.
IG: You have to hope that if that film was made now, there would be like one line or two lines to just flesh out what you’ve said.
CC: Yeah. Also there’s that idea of… does she realise how awful is and does she just not care? And we all know guys like that. And some of us don’t care.
IG: How do you think that the film holds up as like an exploration of sisterhood?
CC: I think it’s interesting because of the age dynamic. I think they both go through very similar sorts of hurdles, in the way that they handle Joey, the way they choose not to tell each other about that.
IG: Yeah, ’cause I love that scene where Kat tells Bianca about her and Joey.
IG: And, you know, on one level, that conversation ends badly…
IG: Bianca throws her out, Bianca gets really annoyed with her.
IG: But that is such a relatable sister scene. That Bianca is processing what’s being said to her and she’s taking it out on Kat, but you see them together a scene later and you know that neither of them meant it.
IG: And there’s this sense of wanting to protect the other one, of wanting to hide yourself from them, and I think it’s such a relatable portrayal of, yeah, as you say the age gap: going through the same thing one after the other and not knowing how much to let the other one work it out for themselves or coach them through it?
CC: Yeah. And I think that’s it. And I remember thinking about my younger sister going away to uni and thinking gosh, she’s the same age as I was, she’s about to hit all of those different things, how much of that is me saying ‘oh, look out for this and think about this’ and just thinking… our experiences are going to be totally different so even if I said, ‘do x, y and z’, that might not work for her. And I think that’s really interesting in real life and in the film.
IG: I think what’s nice at the end of the film is that they have similar experiences but remain true…
CC: to themselves.
IG: And the fact that they are really different.
CC: Yeah. And they support each other’s differences at the end of the film, I think there is that understanding that they’re not the same person but they’re really there for each other and…
IG: And the fact that she doesn’t go to the prom for Patrick, she goes to the prom for Bianca. And Bianca is wearing the best dress…
CC: Mmmm. I’m not a fan of the dress.
IG: I’m so into the crop top and the…
CC: It’s so awfully 90s.
IG: I think it like birthed the Killing Eve pink dress.
CC: [Laughs] Ooooh…
IG: We would not have the Killing Eve pink dress without the Bianca dress.
CC: That’s true. It’s just so floofy.
IG: It’s so floofy. It’s the satin crop top that does it for me.
CC: Yeah [laughs].
CH: Favourite quote? ‘That must be Nigel with the brie!’ So bless him, the stereotypical nerds of the school, they’re all having their little elite gathering of nerds with nibbles and wine and it’s all sophisticated and then doorbell goes and he’s like ‘Oooh, that must be Nigel with the brie!’ and off he goes, and all hell breaks loose. The classic American house party.
IG: My favourite bit about that scene which I’d never noticed before is that Nigel is at front of the crowd with the brie!
CH: Yeah, he is at the front with the brie! I never noticed that either until the other week. And it’s like a proper meaty piece of brie, you know, it’s not just like your little triangle that you get in the supermarket. It is a proper wheel.
CC: Oooh, I’ve already spotted a few. My, just like, favourite, favourite quote is… ‘I know you can be overwhelmed and I know you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?’ ‘I think you can in Europe’. And it’s just so offhand, and so thoughtless but in that teenage speech language and I just love it every time.
IG: I think one of the things that really makes the quotes in this film is that every offhand background quote, every small detail is so funny.
IG: Like the question of whether or not he ate the duck and did it have feet on it, like the minutiae detail.
CC: When she’s got the belly on and he says ‘who knocked up your sister?’
CC: It’s great.
IG: I have to say, the belly scene is one of my favourites.
CC: Oh, oh my god, it’s just, everything about… remains iconic.
IG: OK, favourite quotes?
RT: So one that, I don’t know if I chose it or it’s just ’cause all my mates at school used to quote it, it’s the one Cameron says after she, Bianca, kisses him in the car. And he just goes ‘And he’s back in the game!’, all by himself in the car. And I feel like, like I said earlier, you see some of Patrick, you see some of Cameron, that part of Cameron is something I think we all see in ourselves. Or at least we did as guys in our school. We were just like, yes, we’re still in it, we’ve still got a shot. Because he sort of gets a little bit hopeless at that point, he’s just like well what’s the point and then he’s like ‘And he’s back in the game!’. I’ve always loved that bit!
IG: Favourite characters…
CH: Got to be Heath Ledger. I think if there was any other actor playing that role, I don’t know if I’d like him as much, but that smile. The amount of time we use that GIF on the Globe social media accounts is just… every need a beautiful, cheeky little ooooh, there he is, Heath Ledger, smiling by the lockers.
IG: [Laughs] Is it Heath Ledger’s beauty that makes that character redeemable?
CH: I mean, I don’t! Oh god, people are gonna hate me now. I don’t think he’s like phwoar, the most attractive man in the world. But there’s something about the character that he plays that’s a little bit cheeky, a little bit rebellious, I don’t know, I don’t know what it is, wild hair, he’s wild!
IG: It does make that character redeemable and interesting.
CH: Yeah, and just running up and down those stairs when he’s singing, that’s pure skill.
IG: Favourite character?
CC: It’s really hard.
IG: Honestly, on a rewatch, Allison Janney.
IG: I just think it’s such a small and perfect role.
CC: I would probably go with the Dad, because he comes out with so many one liners. Yeah.
IG: I think it’s also that we take such issue with Petruchio in the play but we don’t talk as much about the way that the father plays the daughters off against each other?
IG: And marries them off, and you know, it’s very much of its time. But the father in this is such a comic character and there’s so much acknowledgement I think that he is trying to enact power but knows he doesn’t have it?
CC: Yeah and I think all of the ways in which he does control them and tries to control them, you can logically see where that’s come from. He’s a gynaecologist, he works with, he says I have this young teenage mother and whether you believe the story he tells or not, you can see where that fear comes from. And this idea that he’s got two young girls, his wife has left, he needs to protect them, he doesn’t really know how, and him being overbearing is his way of doing that I think.
IG: And he still always lets them walk out the door.
IG: There’s no point at which…
CC: He doesn’t say absolutely you can’t go to Sarah Lawrence, I forgive it, he says you know what you are your own person and I have to let you grow but I’m always going to be here for you and there’s something really lovely about that.
IG: I think one of my favourite thing about the dynamic that he brings is he plays the girls off against each other, which is what happens in the play.
IG: But there’s almost like this pride when the girls come together and they make up.
IG: And that’s such a lovely thing.
CH: Favourite scene? I, the more I watch it now, I didn’t appreciate when I was younger, it went straight over my head partly due to my age and I was a very innocent child, is Ms Perky and her erotic novel that she’s just tapping away. She’s completely inappropriate with all the kids as a guidance councillor and she’s just writing things like bratwurst in replace of the male anatomy. It’s just great.
IG: Favourite scenes?
CC: I mean I love it and I hate it, but obviously when he’s singing and he slides down the pole and I think that’s about Heath Ledger’s charisma as opposed to what’s actually happening in the scene and again that idea of what you’re buying into.
I love the scene where she reads out the poem, I think that’s really wonderful.
There’s a scene, I can’t remember whereabouts in the film and it’s just the way he looks at her and it’s the first time he looks at her where he’s not thinking about he’s doing it for the money, he’s seeing her as an actual person and you can see there’s that flicker of doubt thinking am I doing the right thing. And that makes him so redeemable from the offset, that you think he knows this is wrong and he shouldn’t continue. He does and we judge him for it. But there’s something there that we can like and we’re allowed to like in the way that we can’t like Petruchio in the play.
RT: I’ve always liked the party that they throw at, was it Bogey’s house?
IG: Bogey’s house.
RT: Bogey’s house! And I like it because you know, similar like what we were saying with all the characters, I feel like you see a lot of tropes in a very short space of time as they wonder around the party, not too dissimilar to the cafeteria scene you were saying, but in the cafeteria scene it’s being narrated to us who all these people are we should be knowing, whereas in the party scene, I personally think in my equivalent years, would be the guy who was the fly on the wall and I would watch all of the people but being able to move around the party at the scene really captures all these micro-characters. And it’s always those little background details that I think makes or breaks both film or theatre.
IG: Yeah. And it’s a classic American high school party in that you have to suspend so much disbelief.
IG: That they’ve managed to get hold of that many kegs…
RT: Yes, yes. No problems.
IG: They’ve managed to get like… the whole thing is ridiculous but it’s brilliant and it is, you know, within that American high school context as you say, it’s like the perfect way, even the camera work, you’re following over people’s shoulders through the party as they sort of navigate social situations in this incredibly small space. And yeah, it’s very much like the turning point of that film: it’s when Bianca realises she likes Cameron, it’s when Kat realises she likes Patrick, everything hinges on that scene in many ways.
IG: And you know, Bogey is not a likeable character.
RT: [laughs] No!
IG: You’re happy for his house to get totally trashed.
RT: And he doesn’t even fight it that hard, you just see him sort of resigned to his like, yes this is my, this is what happens to me.
IG: And to be fair, we all remember that resignation from school.
IG: You’re like, just get through this, it’s fine.
RT: Another notable scene for me I think, and I don’t know if it is something I really enjoyed or if it’s something I have a little grudge against, is the scene where Patrick sings the song obviously in the bleachers in a sort of trying to apologise to Kat. But that scene, at least at our school again, set the tone for what boyfriends should be willing to do or what guys should be willing to do when courting girls.
RT: You know, maybe not to the scale of singing in the bleachers but like being willing to make a fool of yourself in front of your peers is definitely something that I remember in school you came across as a coward for not wanting to do it because you’re no Heath Ledger.
IG: That’s really interesting because I always found… I love that scene, but it feels like it goes beyond the suspension of disbelief.
IG: And it really falls into a grand gesture category of rom coms and stuff which I never saw the like of at school, like, I always thought the grand gesture was the point at which the film tipped over and… but it’s interesting that people attempted them.
RT: Well I mean I don’t think there was anything to that scale, but the gesture itself was I think something that was almost expected. I mean I definitely felt the pressure. There’s a lot of similar equivalents from rom coms at the time, like there was an expectation to do something very much outside of your comfort zone.
IG: Do you remember any of them from school?
RT: I will freely admit I don’t think I ever actually did… one thing is being told not by the girl herself but by her best friend that I should stand up in the middle of the cafeteria and declare to the entire room that I in fact have a crush on this girl. Which I did do! Probably not as loud as they’d hoped. But I do remember doing that.
IG: Well, props to you, Ryo.
RT: [Laughs] I mean I love the band on the roof at the end, sets the tone for the entire era. I think ends a film very nicely.
IG: I was genuinely shocked to realise the other day to see that scene and remember that it was a pre-drone filming scene, like they must have filmed that with a helicopter and it’s great.
RT: And it’s probably just them miming away or trying their best to sound like they’re authentically playing but no, it’s not. I mean I love the soundtrack to that movie, you can’t redo 10 Things I Hate About You with a different soundtrack, it wouldn’t work!
IG: There’s such a 90s feel to that is so of its time and so perfect and so used to as you say, like summarise a character. Like when Kat appears and she’s listening to Joan Jett, like that for me is such a perfect moment in that film of defining who that character is.
RT: Yeah, no dialogue at all. It’s the kind of thing that in a modern telling of Shakespeare, you would do to set the tone for a character without having to interfere with the actual original text? I think what it is time for is a 10 Things I Hate About You stage musical in this era of Mean Girls being re-done, I hear Sleepless in Seattle‘s being worked on, like the whole era’s being done. Bring 10 Things I Hate About You back on to the stage so then we can have a proper comparison of a stage 10 Things I Hate About You and a stage Taming of the Shrew.
IG: A call to arms for all of the incredibly influential Broadway producers who obviously listen to Such Stuff…
IG: That’s it from us. But what do you make of 10 Things I Hate About You? Has it dated well? Is Patrick a redeemable character? Should Kat have forgiven him at the end? Are you more of a Patrick or a Cameron? And is Bianca’s prom dress a fashion faux pas or the perfect 90s throw back? Let us know by joining the conversation on all of our social media channels.
And if you happen to be a Broadway or west end producer… please do consider that stage version…
You’ve been listening to Such Stuff with me, Imogen Greenberg.
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