The Taming of the Shrew is Just the Right Amount of Ludicrously Sexist

so a guy walks out of a bar, right?

he’s threatening the management, and the management is threatening him
he broke a bunch of glasses and is refusing to pay
then he vomits and falls down
OFF TO A GOOD START SHAKESPEARE

so the owner of the bar goes to get the cops
and meanwhile some rich dude shows up after a long day of murdering animals
and he’s like oh man a drunk dude
fuck guys let’s prank the shit out of him
and everyone is like YESSSSSSSSSSSSS
and the lord is like ok here’s what we’re gonna do
we’re gonna kidnap him
and we’re gonna dress him up real nice
and we’re gonna give him a bunch of servants
and a whole ton of really delicious food
and we are going to tell him he has just been hallucinating being homeless
for like SEVEN YEARS
and he was actually mega rich all along
and everyone is like wow
that’s not so much a prank as the plot for a reality show
but you’re the boss
let’s do this

so they do this
and the dude
whose name is Sly by the way
wakes up and starts demanding booze
and they’re like YES HAVE SOME EXPENSIVE LIQUORS
and he’s like FUCK THAT I WANT REAL PEOPLE BOOZE
and they’re like BUT YOU’RE NOT REAL PEOPLE YOU’RE ROYALTY
and he’s like FUCK ROYALTY I WANNA GET TRASHED
and they’re like you have a hot wife
and he’s like ROYALTY ALL THE WAY BABY
BRING IN THE TITS BRIGADE
so they let in his wife
who is actually just some pageboy in disguise
and the pageboy comes in and Sly is like HEY BABY I HOPE YOU WORE YOUR SEXIN’ CLOTHES
BY WHICH I MEAN NO CLOTHES AT ALL I GUESS
and the pageboy is like uh well
the doctor said we can’t bone for like a couple days
and in the meanwhile we have some people who have come here to perform a play!
isn’t that great?!
and Sly is like yeah ok i guess

so then the rest of the play is the play the actors put on for Sly
SERIOUSLY
like i already told you about hamlet
where instead of killing his uncle like a real man
hamlet puts on a play about killing his uncle
and I told you about Midsummer night’s dream
where a good third of the play is spent watching some idiots rehearse a fucking play
but this right here is the king shit of frame narrative mountain
the play within this play is SO DISTENDED
IT HAS TAKEN OVER THE ENTIRE PLAY
THINK YOU’RE EVER GONNA FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS TO SLY?
NOPE
SORRY ASSHOLES
SHAKESPEARE DECIDED TWO SCENES IN THAT HE IS WRITING A DIFFERENT PLAY NOW
AND YOU’RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO GO ALONG WITH IT

so this play is called the taming of the shrew all of a sudden
and it starts with two dudes showing up in Mantua
which is in italy
which shakespeare is for some reason fascinated with
and these dudes are called Tranio and Lucentio
they get to come on stage first
because they are pretty much the only people in the play who don’t suck
so they’re shooting the shit and whatever
when all of a sudden here comes like a million more people
there’s Bianca
who is super hot and pretty much totally great in every way
Katherina
who is such a huge bitch that it’s a plot point
Baptista
who is their father and also kind of a huge idiot
and Hortensio and Gremio who both want to bang the shit out of Bianca
understandably

so Hortensio and Gremio are both busy trying to convince Baptista to give them Bianca
and Baptista is all like NAH BROS
NOT GONNA MARRY OFF BIANCA UNTIL SOMEONE MARRIES HER UNMARRIABLE OLDER SISTER
KATHERINA, QUEEN OF THE BITCH NAVY
and Hortensio and Gremio are all like fuck man
seriously?
why would you do that
are you trying to get one of us to agree to be a wingman
and like take one for the team?
because fuck that
we both like our nuts a whole lot
and having them attached to our bodies is a high priority
so no sir
we are not going to man up
and put our dicks at the mercy of your castrating ice priestess
and Baptista is like well shit
looks like no one is happy
and Katherina is like DAMN RIGHT NO ONE’S HAPPY
YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
and Baptista is like well in the meantime
I am hiring a ton of really great tutors for my daughters
because i am assuming they are going to be single for a very long time
so if you know any tutors you should def hit me up
and then he and his daughters leave
and Gremio and Hortensio are all like fuuuuuuck
who the fuck is gonna marry that twank and open the floodgates to hot chick central
welp
better go find some idiot to do it for us
so then THEY leave

so Lucentio and Tranio have watched this whole thing take place
and Lucentio turns to Tranio and he’s like dude
dude
I totally want to bang Bianca
can you help me with this?
and Tranio is like no doubt bro
that is what bros are for and I am the most broful bro that ever bro’d a bro like you
bro
so here’s what we’re gonna do
we’re gonna disguise you as a super legit tutor
and get Baptista to hire you
and then you can bang the shit out of Bianca no problem
eh? eh?
and Lucentio is like okay I like the way you think man
but who is going to pretend to be me while I’m pretending to be a tutor?
that is super important for some reason
and Tranio is like DUH BRO
I AM GOING TO PRETEND TO BE YOU
and I am gonna get baptista to agree to marry Bianca to me
but it’s cool because I’m gonna be pretending to be you
so really he will be agreeing to marry Bianca to YOU
and you’re gonna be banging her already so it’s not like she’s gonna say no
and Lucentio is like fuck that’s brilliant
quick
exchange clothes with me
and then Lucentio’s servant shows up and gives them shit about it
but that’s okay
that guy’s only job in the play is to piss everyone off
literally everyone
ALL THE TIME

so meanwhile Katherina and Bianca are yelling at each other
Bianca is like SIS I AM TRYING TO GET LAID HERE
AND YOUR ARCTIC-ASS LOINS ARE A SERIOUS IMPEDIMENT TO THIS
and Katherina is like MAN I AM SO FUCKING FED UP WITH YOUR BULLSHIT
WHY IS IT THAT EVERYTHING WITH A COCK AND BALLS
INSTANTLY MAGNETIZES TOWARDS YOUR LEAKY MEATPOUCH
and Bianca is like WELL MAYBE IF YOU WEREN’T THE ARCHFIEND OF BITCH ISLAND
YOU MIGHT GET SOME MANLOVE AS WELL
and Katherina is like HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED THAT MAYBE I AM ONLY LIKE THIS
BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO BANG ME?
which brings us back to the age old question
which came first
the chicken or the HUUUUGE BITCH

so meanwhile Hortensio hits up his critically insane pal Petruchio
who shows up at Hortensio’s door beating the shit out of his own servant
over a fucking syntactical error
and Hortensio is like yo bro
I called you here because I know you will fuck anything with money
and i found a chick with SO MUCH MONEY who no one else will fuck
and Petruchio is like SIGN ME UP I DON’T EVEN GIVE A FUCK
and Hortensio is like man also
I really want to bang Baptista’s other daughter Bianca
so when you go to try and hook up with Katherina
I am going to disguise myself as a music teacher
and then I want you to present me to Baptista
and he will present me to Bianca
and I will present Bianca WITH MY PENIS
and Petruchio is like GENIUS
and then Gremio shows up like wassup guys
I sure hope everyone is trying to win Bianca’s hand honestly like I am
look I brought a scholar who I am going to give to Baptista
as a kind of a bribe to get Bianca to bang me
BUT PLOT TWIST GUYS
THE SCHOLAR HE HAS IS ACTUALLY LUCENTIO
WHAAAAAT

so yeah then everyone shows up and gives completely unqualified teachers to Baptista
and Baptista accepts them totally unquestioningly
and also some books from Tranio
who remember
is pretending to be Lucentio
and is asking for Bianca’s hand in marriage
even though NEITHER HE NOR THE REAL LUCENTIO HAVE EVER ACTUALLY MET HER
YEP GUYS SHE MUST HAVE SOME GRAPPLING HOOKS FOR TITS
BECAUSE IT DOESN’T TAKE MUCH TO MAKE DUDES TRY AND GET UP ONS

but then Katherina shows up
and everyone’s like oh shit here comes the bitchstorm and they leave
except for Petruchio who’s like AWRIGHT LESS DO DIS
and then he and Katherina prepare to have the most EPIC RAP BATTLE OF ALL TIME
it’s so epic you really had to be there
the closest I can come to rendering it in its original form is:
KATE: YOU’RE A STOOL
PETRUCHIO: SIT ON MY FACE
KATE: I’M TOO FAT
PETRUCHIO: YOU’RE A BEE! BUZZZZZ.
KATE: YOU’RE A BUZZ. A BUZZ-ARD! ZING!
PETRUCHIO: TURTLE!
KATE: MORE BEES!
PETRUCHIO: LET’S MAKE OUT!
and then Kate smacks him

so obviously Petruchio decides that they need to get married on Sunday
and everyone comes back into the room because the screaming has died down
and Petruchio’s like GUESS WHAT GUYS
WE’RE GETTING MARRIED ON SUNDAY!
and Kate is like what the fuck
no
and Petruchio is like aw honey don’t be coy
you were totally into it when we were alone just a moment ago
and Kate is like NO NO WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS
THIS IS LIKE ONE OF THOSE NIGHTMARES WHERE NO ONE LISTENS TO YOU
AND THEN YOU’RE NAKED AND SOMEONE HAS NAILED YOU TO A CUCUMBER
and Petruchio is like that’s my Katherina alright
and for some reason no one sees any problem with this
and Petruchio goes off to get some clothes for the wedding
and Kate freaks the fuck out and goes to her room
and then Gremio is like hey Baptista
can I marry your daughter?
I’ve kinda been trying real hard for a long time
and it seems like it might finally work out
and Tranio is like hey Baptista
I’ll pay you twice as much for your daughter as whatever Gremio pays
and Baptista is like SOLD
and Gremio is like aww

but so anyway then the real Lucentio is EXACTLY where he wants to be
but the problem is
so is Hortensio
although Hortensio manages to begin his tenure as music professor
by getting a guitar broken over his head by Katherina
so okay she’s kind of a huge bitch but she is also a born rockstar
but then immediately after that Hortensio and Lucentio
(Lucentio’s codename is Cambio by the way)
are bitching each other out over who gets to tutor Bianca first
and bianca’s all GUYS
GUYS
I’M A GROWN-ASS WOMAN
I CAN PICK MY TUTORS MYSELF
so cambio gets to teach me greek right now
while the music teacher guy tunes his instrument
and Lucentio’s like YESSSSS

so Hortensio goes to tune his violin or whatever it is
and Lucentio and Bianca go over to the other side of the stage
and Lucentio starts translating latin to her
only he’s not translating latin
he’s just saying latin
and then saying whatever the fuck he wants afterwards
all like LOREM IPSUM DOLOR SIT AMET
I AM LUCENTIO AND CAN WE BANG YET?
and Hortensio’s all HEY I’M DONE TUNING
and Bianca’s like YOU STILL SOUND LIKE SHIT
TUNE THAT SHIT SOME MORE
and then she’s like LOREM IPSUM DOLOR SIT AMET
WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU WE’VE NEVER EVEN MET
and Lucentio is like oh man i’ll change that around real soon
and Hortensio is like SERIOUSLY I’M DONE TUNING
and then he starts giving Bianca a lesson
and tries the SAME BULLSHIT BUT WITH MUSIC
and Bianca is having none of it
although I imagine this whole thing is another HUUUUGE boost to her ego
basically the upshot of it is no one gets laid
and Hortensio and Lucentio both suspect each other
of doing EXACTLY WHAT THEY’RE DOING
so that’s cool

NOW IT IS SUNDAY ALL OF A SUDDEN
everyone is waiting for Petruchio to show up
but he’s not there
and then his shitty servant shows up like oy
Petruchio is on his way
but uh
you’re not gonna like it
he’s kind of dressed like a trashbag covered in vomit and poverty
and Baptista is like WHAT THE FUCK NO WAY
and then here comes Petruchio
looking like he drove a bargain dumptruck through the ugly store
then ran himself over with the truck
and everyone is like DUDE PLEASE BORROW MY CLOTHES
DON’T GET MARRIED LOOKING LIKE THIS
PLEASE DUDE BE REASONABLE
and Petruchio is like REASONABLE?
HAVE I EVER
EVER
DONE ANYTHING TO SUGGEST THAT I AM A REASONABLE PERSON?
COME ON TOOTS LET’S GET MARRIED
and then he marries Katherina
who is understandably upset about everything that is happening
and then immediately after the wedding Petruchio is like OK WELL THAT WAS NICE
NOW WE ARE LEAVING
SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR FAMILY KATHERINA OH TOO LATE HERE WE GO
and Katherina is like hey whoa fuck no
we’re staying
and Petruchio is like hm
NOPE
and then he just kind of drags her away with him
and thus begins an all-out campaign of intense psychological warfare
conducted by Petruchio on his new wife
like on the way back to his place
he knocks over Kate’s horse
then beats his servant for letting it fall over
allowing the horse to remain on his wife
then they walk home through the snow and Petruchio immediately starts screaming
at EVERYTHING
screaming and hitting people and flinging food everywhere
he is just such a perfect bastard
that there is literally no time left over for Katherina to be a bitch
plus Petruchio is starving her and depriving her of sleep
literally
he is doing things that are specifically banned in the geneva convention
pretty sure
he straight WILL NOT GIVE HER MEAT
and he sits up every night
so that whenever she falls asleep he can just start SCREAMING UNTIL SHE WAKES UP
THIS IS STRAIGHT HORRIFIC TORTURE
THIS IS NOT A COMEDY ANYMORE THIS IS FUCKING TERRIFYING

Meanwhile back in Mantua
Hortensio has gone to Tranio
(who he still thinks is Lucentio)
to tattle on the real Lucentio for being all over Bianca
so they go and spy on Lucentio
and he’s totally laying the charm on as thick as extra chunky peanut butter
the peanut butter of LOVE
and Hortensio is like look at that
look at all that love butter
that’s disgusting
I can’t believe I was ever into that chick
Dude Lucentio
let’s make a deal
I will promise to never bang Bianca
if you make me the same promise
and Tranio is like YOU GOT YOURSELF A DEAL
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
by the way I keep really wanting to write Tranio’s name as Traino
but anyway then Hortensio goes off to try and marry some rich widow
and Lucentio’s servant shows up like HEY
I GOT A GUY WHO CAN FRAUDULENTLY IMPERSONATE YOUR DAD
I DON’T REMEMBER WHY WE NEED THAT BUT I GOT IT
and Traino is like SWEET
TIME TO DO MORE SHIFTY BULLSHIT
and he goes and convinces this old dude to pretend to be Lucentio’s dad Vincentio

meanwhile Katherina is trying really hard to get some food
she is starving to death and the sleep deprivation doesn’t help either
god this is just an orgy of horror
let’s talk about something else

so Baptista shows up to Lucentio’s house
and Tranio is there with the old dude pretending to be his dad
all like YEAH TOTALLY LUCENTIO CAN DEF MARRY BIANCA
FINE BY ME
and Baptista
who you may have noticed
is INSANELY GULLIBLE
is like sweet let’s do it tomorrow
seriously you could make a shit sandwich
just bread and shit
and you could give it to Baptista and be like hey Baptista
I made you a sandwich
I can vouch for this sandwich
you should put it in your mouth
and he’d be like YES SIR IMMEDIATELY WHAT COULD GO WRONG

okay now we HAVE to cut back to Kate and Petruchio
there’s plot stuff going on
because now they’re headed back to Mantua
along with Hortensio
(who is hoping Petruchio will teach him to brutally dominate HIS new wife)
and they’re riding along and Petructio is like BOY
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL FULL MOON WE GOT GOING ON TONIGHT
and Kate is like dude what the fuck it’s like 10AM
and Petruchio is like WRONG BITCH
WRONG
WHAT TIME IS IT
and Kate is like 10AM
and Petruchio is like WRONG AGAIN
GUESS WHAT TITS MCGEE
WE ARE NOT GOING A STEP CLOSER TO YOUR HOME AND FAMILY UNTIL YOU AGREE IT’S NIGHT
and Kate is like ok fine it’s 10PM
and Petructio is like BZZZZT
WRONGGGG
IT’S 10AM TWANKSHANKS ARE YOU FUCKING BLIND
and Kate is like FUCK FINE WHATEVER
WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT ME TO SAY
I WILL SAY WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT I DON’T EVEN CARE ANYMORE
I HAVEN’T SLEPT IN WEEKS AND I THINK I AM DEAD
and Petruchio is like NOW WE’RE TALKIN’
and then they run into the actual Vincentio on the way to mantua
which just adds another wrinkle to the venerable penis that is this fucking plot

so then they all arrive in Mantua
and Lucentio has just run off to go get secretly married to Bianca
or like
sort of secretly married
I mean it was Lucentio who Baptista agreed to let marry his daughter
and now it is Lucentio who has snuck over to the church in the middle of the night
where the priest is waiting for him
and some witnesses also
and marrying Bianca
honestly I don’t know why the whole thing with the fake dad and Traino was necessary
probably just for laughs
but anyway while Lucentio is getting married Petruchio and Kate
and Hortensio and the REAL Vincentio
all show up to Lucentio’s house
and they’re like OY
WHERE LUCENTIO AT
and the old dude pretending to be Vincentio sticks his head out the window like
SHUT THE FUCK UP GO AWAY
and Vincentio is like BUT I’M HIS DAD
and the old dude is like NO ME
and then Traino shows up like oh shit we’re fucked
better continue the charade for as long as possible
so he starts yelling at Vincentio like YO OLD MAN STOP PRETENDING TO BE MY DAD
and Vincentio is like TRANIO YOU AREN’T EVEN MY SON WHAT ARE YOU DOING
so Tranio calls the cops and has Vincentio arrested
and then Lucentio shows up with Baptista and Bianca like dudes chill out
I married Bianca everything is fine
let me explain the thick syrup of lies I have been feeding everyone for weeks
and Baptista and Vincentio are like well shit
I guess that works out
still gonna beat the shit out of Triano though

so but then everyone has dinner together and parties it up hard
even the widow Hortensio married shows up
she’s a huge bitch to him and he has no idea what to do about it
and then she gets into a fight with Katherina and they almost murder each other
and all the dudes are like CAT FIGHT CAT FIGHT YESSSS
but then Bianca steps in and gets them to calm down and leave the room to talk it out
and then she leaves too
and then all the dudes start giving Petruchio shit for marrying the ultrabitch
and Petruchio is like orly?
I bet I’ve brainwashed and abused her to the point where she is a good wife
and everyone is like OH YEAH?
WANNA BET?
and Petruchio is like sure
let’s all send messengers to get our wives
and whichever one comes quickest, her husband gets 200 bucks
and Lucentio and Hortensio are like AWW YISS
so Lucentio sends a message for Bianca
and the messenger comes back like SHE’S BUSY
and then Hortensio sends a messenger for the widow
and the messenger is all SHE SAYS YOU SHOULD COME TO HER
and then Petruchio sends his message
and INSTANTLY Kate is in the room like yes sir what do you want sir don’t starve me
and Petruchio is like FETCH THE OTHER WIVES
so she gets them
and then she delivers a lecture on the importance of obedient wives
and all the men give Petruchio a round of applause
while he insults his wife’s hat
ANOTHER VICTORY FOR FEMINISM

so the moral of the story
is if you’ve been striking out with the ladies a lot recently
maybe it’s because you’re not using enough deceit and torture

the end.

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17 thoughts on “The Taming of the Shrew is Just the Right Amount of Ludicrously Sexist

  1. I did a report on this play junior year of high school
    my teacher was a total feminazi, but when I mentioned that I felt uncomfortable reading all of that fucked-up shit, she just told me to suck it up.
    moral of the story is that no matter how big of a feminist a person is, they'll still eat up whatever shit Shakespeare throws at them provided they teach English.

  2. wow, perhaps a new alinement of thinking would not go astray?
    the play can be done within many contexts and all can make sense if its thought through. And it by no means if a sexist or feminist play today if staged with a more conscious notion.
    Perhaps to think a little beyond just what a English teacher or face value notion and get creative to what the play stands for now. The torture and submission can totally be avoided if questioning and re contextualization goes into it. And the fact that the character Sly is left at ends makes great creative technique if you want to wrap the story up.
    Maybe get a little more brave and read a little harder and you will realise that is why its still one of his most popular plays and it's obviously liked by many even after his death almost 500 years ago.

  3. Jess: Maybe the play's so popular because there are lots of people who think that sexism and torture is kinda funny? I think maybe!

    Look, the answer to 'this play is super problematic in very obvious ways' should not be 'this is because you are not properly recontextualizing to ignore all that stuff.' It's true that there are good productions that go way beyond the source material to make something way more empowering to women, but you don't get to ignore the inherent problems in the script because of that.

    (Also, this retelling was as awesome as usual. Loving the new Shakespeare kick – any chance you'll do Titus Andronicus?)

  4. I think it's pretty difficult to read the play as empowering to women in any way, but I also think it's not as entirely fucked up as it appears from a 21st-century viewpoint.

    What is easy to miss amid all the starving and sleep deprivation is that Petruchio doesn't eat or sleep either. And while it was perfectly legal in Elizabethan England to beat your wife, the text of the play never has Petruchio lay a hand on Katherine (though many productions ignore this entirely in favor of maximizing slapstick violence).

    The metaphor used for Petruchio's taming is taming a hawk. When you tame a hawk you don't want to break it's spirit, you just want it to be barely tame enough to be a productive and obedient hunter. Carrying this over to Petruchio and Kate, it means he doesn't want to break her, just quiet her down enough to fit into society.

    It's a sucky society where women are pretty much owned by men, but even so, Kate probably will have a better life as a married woman (i.e. respected by society), with a husband who is her intellectual match (unlike the entire rest of the cast who are all idiots) and actually respects her intelligence and spirit (Petruchio says he's much more attracted to her when he hears that she broken the lute over Hortensio's head). And at the very least now she's getting laid.

    The play is definitely not a masterpiece of feminism–and I would hate to be in Kate's shoes–but I don't think it's so problematic that it is not appropriate (when performed tastefully) or cannot furnish interesting discussion today. I'm not entirely comfortable with everything in it but it is worth reading just for Katherine and Petruchio's first scene together, which is really clever and full of sex jokes that went right over my head when we read it in Jr. High English.

  5. @vaya: Totally skipping over your very insightful and awesome commentary to say that when we read this my senior year of high school, I totally did get the sex jokes. We had to perform part of it, and I and my devil's-advocate-arch-nemesis in the class performed the EPIC RAP BATTLE, right down to to "What, with my tongue in your tail? Good Kate, I am a *gentleman!*" Rimming references in high school English class, FTW.

  6. Excellent re-telling!

    Also, I like the discussion this one sparked.

    Taming of the Shrew obviously tells a pretty sexist story, but that is why, told now in the 21st century, it works so well as a piece of feminism: because (as this brilliant re-telling just demonstrated) it is so ludicrous and can be turned into a satire. It brings to attention exactly what feminist ideals are about. I think that is what mrskippy's English teacher may have been trying to get at. Reading literature that offends our modern ideas about women's equality helps us think about what things were like before such ideas existed.

  7. Your retelling is brilliant, Ovid!

    Another call for you to do Titus Andronicus, please. That play is so incredibly crazy. Rape, murder, and cannibalism–told by Shakespeare! It was originally a Roman play, of course. The Romans got the lock on crazy…

  8. People will say Shakespeare is a sexist, anti-Semitic, intolerant and shit. But none of that matters because these words mean nothing but shit. Same with the authors of the Arabian Nights.

  9. Forsooth, playgoers! I hear you quite enjoy
    My plays, so verily I did insert
    A play within a play, so that you might
    Laugh raucously whilst you laugh raucously!

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