The basic premise of the series is that the Stratford sisters, Kat (Lindsey Shaw) and Bianca (Meaghan Jette Martin) are starting off in a new school this year, Padua High. While Kat is an independent free thinker who wants to bring down the man, Bianca's only desire is to be popular, if possible, moreso than back at their home town. Bianca's desire is so strong that she has already researched who the most popular girl is, what she likes and how to spend time with her to get an in with her. In an almost formulaic manner, this means Bianca must try and join the cheerleading squad and become buddy-buddy with the head cheerleader, Chastity (Dana Davis). Unfortunately for Bianca, Chastity and Kat have a bit of a run-in (which quotes one of the lines from the film) and as a result, Bianca gets put in the position of mascot.
Meanwhile, Bianca catches the eye of Cameron James (Nicholas Braun), one of the school's awkward geeks. In a fashion similar to the movie, Cameron works hard to get close to Bianca, but for the most part, she sees him as a good friend (especially when she ends up thinking he is gay at one point). Adding a third point to the Bianca love triangle is a growing relationship between Bianca and Chastity's boyfriend, football player and male model wannabe, Joey Donner (Chris Zylka). The real problem for both Joey and Cameron is that Bianca isn't allowed to date by her over-protective father (Larry Miller), until Kat does, and that is something the older sister just isn't interested in right now.
Here is where I have to step onto my soapbox a bit. In the film (and play), Cameron and Joey are supposed to get the local bad boy, Patrick Verona (Ethan Peck), to go out with Kat so that they can try and date Bianca. As you would expect from any timeless romantic comedy, the love-hate dance between Patrick and Kat coupled with Patrick's monetary incentives promises some interesting plot twists when everything is eventually revealed. Unfortunately, this particular and major plot device of the film and play is missing here. Instead, the interest between Kat and Patrick, while still rocky at first, comes about more naturally and has nothing to do with any outside scheming. This really irked me as it was one of the major parts of the original story and I couldn't really see any reason why it had to be removed. I mean, I can understand making small changes like having Kat and Bianca being the new kids instead of Cameron, or actually developing Bianca into much more of a three-dimensional character (as opposed to the very flat one from the movie) in order to make the show easier to handle as a TV series over a 1.5 hour movie. I get all that, really, but why take out what is basically the point and driving force of the entire story?
Okay, I've gotten off my soapbox now. 10 Things I Hate About You also brings in a pair of support characters from the movie in Michael (Kyle Kaplan) and Mandella (Jolene Purdy). Michael is Cameron's lifelong friend and confidant who ends up coming up with a few odd plans to get Bianca to notice Cameron, while Mandella ends up befriending Kat as another social misfit. I'm still not sure how I feel about changing Mandella from a Renaissance-loving girl (as seen in the movie) to a goth-chick, but I was able to accept it and move on.
All-in-all, 10 Things I Hate About You is shaping up to be a good series, and the 10 episodes in Volume One not only do a good job of setting up all the characters as close-duplicates to their film and play counterparts, but stretch the plot out in a natural way so it doesn't feel like it is dragging as the season ends. I am curious to see where the show goes from here though, because while it didn't finish off the plot of the movie, it did go off in a slightly different direction. What I really enjoyed was the level of acting which surpasses pretty much anything else I've seen come out of ABC Family. There were quite a few times when Shaw sounded a lot like Julia Stiles and the same could be said of Peck portraying Heath Ledger's part. I was pretty impressed all around with the level of proficiency seen in this show.
10 Things I Hate About You: Volume One has a couple of special features, and while there isn't anything here that is a must-see, they still serve as nice extras. One featuette is your standard behind-the-scenes look at the series hosted by Shaw and Martin, while another has the cast answering a bunch of questions about what they like and don't like.
Even for viewers who didn't see the original film, or don't know much about "Taming of the Shrew," 10 Things I Hate About You: Volume One ends up being a good family experience that should at least be looked into. As for fans of the original works, while there are some disappointing aspects, overall it is a good adaptation and worth checking out.