10 Things I Hate About You: 10 things we love to hate about this film

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Julia Stiles and Susan May Pratt in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures

It does pass the Bechdel Test, but only just

The Bechdel Test — if you don’t already know — is a pop culture ‘test’ which stands as a sort of marker on how little women actually appear on-screen or get to talk on-screen in films. Originally created by Alison Bechdel during a conversation between two characters in one of her comics, the Bechdel Test prescribes that a film only passes if there are more than two named female characters, two female characters have a conversation and that the conversation isn’t about men.

In a strange turn of events, uber-feminist Kat isn’t the one of who has the most Bechdel-Test-passing dialogue. That trophy goes to Bianca. “I know you can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed” is one of the greatest lines of dialogue in modern cinema and also passes the Bechdel Test. Bianca and Chastity’s other conversations dig into even deeper territory (“I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack”), and while they may not be about men, they are not exactly representing the pinnacle of female intellectualism.

For a film whose central protagonist is supposed to be incredibly feminist, Kat’s conversations often revolve around men, or allude to them in some way. Kat’s other interactions are with best friend Mandella (a Shakespeare obsessive), but even their conversations either revolve around Kat’s burgeoning relationship with Patrick or around Shakespeare. He might be long dead, but he’s still a man. Mandella even gets paired off by the end of the film, to Michael, of all people.