Ladies and gentlemen, meet 10 Things I Hate About You, the newest member of the great summer shows club.
Based on the 1999 movie of the same name, 10 Things takes the framework of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and remodels it into an endearing teen rom-com with room to spare for feminism, morality and wonderful silliness. The acting and writing is entirely squee-worthy and if things continue to go according to plan, it might just become an all-time great, in the tradition of My So-Called Life, Buffy and The O.C.
So, what is this series, why should you watch, and what's to come? Read on to find out the 10 things you need know about 10 Things I Hate About You:
1. As star Ethan Peck says, "The show is different from the film. We're trying to reimagine the characters and the ideas and the situations." What's different? Well, it's set in California, not Washington; the Stratford sisters are new arrivals in Padua, not long-time residents; and Peck's "outsider" version of Patrick Verona won't be showboating in the football stands á la the iconic Heath Ledger "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" scene.
2. Ethan Peck's Patrick Verona doesn't say much for the first three episodes, but he does start talking eventually. The actor—who says he's a total "space case" in real life and says he uses the phrase, "Wait...what?" more than any other—told us he finally gets chatty around episode four. (Show runner Carter Covington says of the part, which does involve a lot of broody skulking and locker-leaning, "I kept thinking of Jordan Catalano from My So-Called Life.")
3. Covington tells us that there will very likely be kissing before the end of the season. When and how? Well, episode seven is titled "Light My Fire," it features Patrick's first visit to his leading lady Kat Stratford's house, and the actors sound very excited about it. As Kat herself (Lindsey Shaw) tells us, by the second half of the season, their relationship will "move away from the comedy, more towards the relationship side of things." Whoo-hoo!
4. As much as you'll go gaga for Ethan Peck, you'll want to be best friends with Lindsey Shaw's Kat. Shaw nails all the sarcasm and well-written wit inherent to the role of Katherine/Kat/"the shrew," but there's more to her than that—she really is interesting. Like Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy (from the most successful movie-to-TV adaptation ever), Shaw's Kat Stratford has high school problems, but she has bigger problems, too. As Shaw puts it, "Kat's almost kind of like a hero-crusader kind of person. She's always got a campaign."
5. Kat's baby sister Bianca, meanwhile, is played by the adorable Meaghan Jette Martin. As Meaghan explains about her character: "[Bianca] definitely doesn't have her priorities straight, but what makes her fun and likable and relatable is [that] she's not quite sure where she's going in life."
6. There is a girl-on-girl kiss in episode six, but it doesn't happen the way you expect. (Note from Covington: "Originally, we had [spoiler deleted for your protection] selling her panties to Japan" for that plotline.)
7. Fun fact: Nicholas Braun, who plays Cameron (the Joseph Gordon-Levitt role from the film), is 6-foot-6. (We share this because it's fun to watch scenes and realize how comparatively ginormous he is.) Cameron, of course, is in love with Bianca, but to hear Meaghan tell it from Bianca's point of view, that's not going very well: "He's currently, in my mind, my gay best friend."
8. Dana Davis (whom you might remember as Monica Dawson from Heroes season two) was not originally slated to be a regular but was so remarkable in the pilot as Cordelia Chase-esque mean girl Chastity that she was invited to join full time. Covington says, "As soon as I saw dailies, I was like, 'Wow. She should be a series regular. She is so good.' "
9. Speaking of good performers, Larry Miller reprises his role from the movie as the Stratford sisters' overprotective father, and Gil Junger, who directed the movie, returns to direct six episodes of the 10-episode first season.
10. If you miss out on 10 Things I Hate About You, you will kick yourself. It is the best thing that ABC Family has ever produced; it's funny, smart and sweet; and we swear on our teenage love interests that your devoted viewership will be rewarded.
10 Things I Hate About You premieres tonight on ABC Family at 8 p.m.