Beyond The Bitch
by Caitlin Tegart
In comedies, women are often the girlfriend, the wife or the bitchy friend of the girlfriend or wife (Leslie Mann, God bless you, you’ve worn all the hats). But there was a time when women did some seriously kooky shit in movies and got the be the funny, flawed, active idiot all the guys get to play. So let’s take a look at these movies and aspire to reach their level of kookiness.
Perhaps this is an odd choice for Beyond the Bitch since the lead of Ten Things I Hate About You (Julia Stiles’ Kat) is, well, kind of a bitch. But she has her reasons! Her mom’s dead, her little sister’s more popular than her and Andrew Keegan is always around. No one’s happy when Andrew Keegan is always around, except Kat’s sister Bianca who has a crush on Keegan’s character Joey Donner, a preppy popular kid.
Bianca likes wearing mini-backpacks, but she doesn’t like that her dad (the wonderful Larry Miller) won’t let her date, because he’s an OB/GYN who’s seen too many teen pregnancies but who, I guess, hasn’t seen many contraceptive options. Kat is also at odds with Larry Miller because she wants to go to Sarah Lawrence which is far away from their Seattle home. Kat wants to go to Sarah Lawrence because … you know, she likes feminist rock. One day Larry Miller decides that Bianca can date if Kat does! Why does he decide this? I guess ole Larry Miller just understands a great plot device when he sees one! (Ten Things I Hate About You is based loosely on Shakepeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. You know Shakespeare as the author of Clueless.)
Bianca tells Cameron, her French tutor, who secretly knows little French and only wants to get close to Bianca, about her dad’s deal and then Cameron starts scheming. Cameron presents his dilemma to his toady/only friend Michael, who warns Cameron that Bianca’s sister Kat … you know, she likes feminist rock, so this is going to be difficult. Cameron asks school rebel Patrick (Heath Ledger, le sigh) to take the Kat Challenge, but he doesn’t bite, so Cameron convinces Joey to pay Patrick to date Kat in order so that Joey can date Bianca (and, in theory, Cameron would swoop in at this point). So, we’re off!
Patrick wins Kat over by singing “Can’t My Eyes Off Of You” at a soccer practice. So much for the feminist rock! Since Kat’s dating, Bianca wants to go to prom with Joey, but – get this – Kat reveals she and Joey dated freshman year, they had sex and then he dumped her! WHAT? Bianca gets the chance to prove she’s a decent sister and tells Joey to get to steppin’.
Kat and Bianca go to prom with Patrick and Cameron and all seems well, until Joey confronts Cameron about manipulating the deal for himself, thereby revealing that Patrick, who now has feelings for Kat, was paid to date her. The next morning Kat is bummed, but her dad reveals he’s letting her go to Sarah Lawrence! Why? Because Larry Miller comes in to advance the plot.
The next week in school, Kat reads her poem “10 Things I Hate About You” in front of the whole class which is clearly about Patrick, who totally gets it. Kat goes to her locker to find a guitar which Patrick has bought with Joey’s money. They make up. He loves that feminist rocker.
Fun fact: Larisa Oleynik, who played Bianca, graduated from Sarah Lawrence, a college she’d heard of in a movie.