“10 Things I Hate” about this premise

Can ABC Family successfully recreate a beloved ’90s teen gem? Doubtful.

Oh, look, the new Kat’s such a feminist! She’s wearing black! And a hat!
PHOTO COURTESY ABC FAMILY

Ashley Goetz

Oh, look, the new Kat’s such a feminist! She’s wearing black! And a hat! PHOTO COURTESY ABC FAMILY

Sometimes, the ABC Family channel manages to surprise the old and jaded A&E critic with what is essentially a dumb, teen-targeted trifle (âÄúGreekâÄú) thatâÄôs a fun-to-watch guilty pleasure. Or, they veer toward the preachy and the cringe-laden, like âÄúSecret Life of the American Teenager,âÄù with its new âÄúI had sex and my dad died as a result!âÄù storyline. But then, just as the wholesome channel worms its way into viewersâÄô good graces, they hit you with a bombshell. This time, they dipped their squeaky clean fingers into the teen movie golden era of 1998-1999 and chose not âÄúSheâÄôs All That,âÄù nor âÄúCanâÄôt Hardly Wait,âÄù but the best of the genre (arguably), âÄú10 Things I Hate About YouâÄù for a TV recreation. Remember the old Friday night retread of âÄúClueless?âÄù We prefer to forget it, too. For the most part, TV shows based on movies donâÄôt work, and from the looks of it, this new âÄú10 ThingsâÄù is doomed to fall Prada backpack over Sketchers sneakers. Like its film predecessor, the cast is comprised of mostly young unknowns, none too attractive. A couple have Disney and Nickelodeon pasts, but none of them are in line to be the next Miley Cyrus. The movieâÄôs writer and director are on board, as is Larry Miller, who played Kat and BiancaâÄôs overprotective dad, but from the clips released by ABC Family, that spark ignited by Julia Stiles/Heath Ledger/Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Larisa Oleynik canâÄôt be relit, no matter how hard these fresh faces try. Plus, whatâÄôs the point of bringing back a relic from the âÄô90s to todayâÄôs teenybop audience? Sure, thereâÄôs always relevance to be found in ShakespeareâÄôs timeless tales, and our generation has a certain level of nostalgia for the original. But the ABC Family show isnâÄôt targeted at 20-somethings, but instead at a demographic that knows Heath Ledger as the Joker, not the crooning bad boy Patrick Verona. The whole strategy seems like making a starless, dumbed-down version of the original for a generation who doesnâÄôt remember the movie. The movieâÄôs unofficial theme song, Letters to CleoâÄôs âÄúI Want You to Want MeâÄù has been redone in the slick, over-produced style favored by tweens today by some girly five-piece called KSM. That late-âÄô90s brand of sarcasm just cannot be recreated for today. Sadly, it seems as though the undercurrent of not-that-innocence which ran through the movie will be xâÄôed out in favor of ABC FamilyâÄôs, well, family-friendly requirements. Lindsey Price is not attractive enough to grab attention, the first failing of a show based on high school popularity and dynamics. Julia Stiles wasnâÄôt particularly gorgeous, but she had charisma that Price seemingly lacks, no matter how witty and snarky she tries to be. The way Kat has been styled is horrendous. Apparently, wearing tights with your shorts, an unflattering combination of cardigan and vest, and never taking off your black beanie hat make you âÄúdifferent.âÄù She listens to MPR, reads the paper, and yes, even mentions Kim Jong Il. Bianca is a 1D bubblehead of the highest order, and she better get some depth before the critics get their knives out. None of these teen actors can match their predecessors, and thatâÄôs the problem. The writers are grasping at straws. The kid playing Cameron is authentically awkward as a kid with a crush, his voice all wavery and jittery, but itâÄôs the awkward that makes you feel bad, not charmed. The dialogue tries to be snappy, particularly in exchanges between âÄúsassyâÄù Kat and âÄúsoulful bad boyâÄù Patrick, but since television doesnâÄôt carry a rating system that anyone pays attention to, and thereâÄôs no ticket taker at the TV station, the way these characters talk isnâÄôt how real 16-year-olds converse at all. No matter how many motorcycles he rides or how inky black his hair is, real 16-year-old boys donâÄôt behave as âÄúdarkly romanticâÄù as the writers want Patrick to come off. Too many pop culture references abound and fail to impress, though IâÄôm hoping BiancaâÄôs âÄúYouâÄôre really smiling with your eyesâÄù to the (far from Andrew Keegan awesome) Joey 2.0 was an âÄúAmericaâÄôs Next Top ModelâÄù nod. The big question is: How on earth do the writers plan to drag the plot of a 90-minute film into a TV series? Though in the world of teenybop romantic-dramedys like âÄúGossip GirlâÄù and the aforementioned âÄúGreek,âÄù itâÄôs easy to take an entanglement and drag it out for episodes upon episodes. Hopefully âÄú10 ThingsâÄù doesnâÄôt last long enough for a Bianca pregnancy scare. DonâÄôt kill our nostalgia, please, ABC.