10 Things I Hate About You is a classic romantic comedy set in Tacoma, Washington. The film stars Julia Stiles as Kat Stratford and Heath Ledger who plays Patrick Verona. Kat is adverse to mostly anyone and anything, including her sister, Bianca Stratford, who is the complete opposite of her. A new student, Cameron, is enamored with Bianca, however, her father has a strict rule on dating (unless Kat has a boyfriend she is not allowed to date), which is where Patrick comes into play. Patrick has girls falling at his feet with his bad-boy air and Australian accent, but these (of course) do not appeal to Kat. The movie is centered around a plan Cameron has, where he would pay Patrick to date Kat, to ultimately date Bianca.
According to Aristotle, “A comedy is a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character.” In this movie, that character would be Kat, her mother is no longer in the picture and she’s struggling to find her identity, not to mention the overwhelming decision about where she’s attending college in the fall, which her father is of no help. If that’s not enough, Joey, a boy from Kat’s past is trying to get with Bianca, which leads to the central conflict in the story. At the prom, Kat learns that Patrick was paid to date her, resulting in their “break up.” The movie title is from the title of the poem that Kat writes for her English class about Patrick, who is also a student in the class; the scene ends with her in tears and rushing out of the classroom. In the final scene, Patrick gifts Kat her dream guitar and confesses he’s fallen in love with her. This ending is representative of a romantic comedy as, “The… two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled.”
Kat and Patrick coming back together at the end represent the power of vulnerability, the acceptance of differences and a valuable character strength: forgiveness. Stiles plays a strong female lead, who acts according to how she wishes and does not back down to other males in the movie, although viewers learn that she was once heavily influenced by her peers and society’s expectations. Now, Kat has broken out of that shell and despite Patrick only being interested in her for the money at the beginning, he never criticized or judged her character or interests, unlike others in the film. Many people can relate to the ups and downs that Kat and Patrick face in the film, whether it be their relationship or the personal discoveries and challenges they experience.
While this film is not necessarily realistic, a romantic comedy is not meant to be. The ending is always supposed to be a happily ever after, which this one definitely is. When people choose to watch this genre, they are not looking for a tragedy or mirror of real life, but rather a feel-good ending.