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What I Like About You is a 2002-2006 Frog network sitcom about two sisters living in New York. Holly Tyler (Amanda Bynes) is an impulsive, hyperactive teenager; Val Tyler (Jennie Garth) is hyperorganized neat freak nearing 30.
In addition to coping with each other, they also have to deal with their friends (in order of appearance):
- Gary Thorpe (Wesley Jonathan), Holly's longtime best friend
- Jeff Campbell (Simon Rex), Val's boyfriend (in season 1 only)
- Henry Gibson (Michael McMillan), Holly's first love
- Lauren (Leslie Grossman), Val's work-rival-turned-business-partner
- Vic Meladeo (Dan Cortese), Val's (eventually ex-) boss and eventual husband
- Vince (Nick Zano), either a hunk or a sleaze, depending on what gender you ask in-universe example
- Peter (Stephen Dunham), Vic's chauvinistic replacement
- Tina Haven (Alison Munn), Holly's female confidante & bad influence
- Ben Sheffield (David de Lautour), a musician Holly meets in Europe
Contains examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Holly's old standup comedy tape in "Dangerous Liasons" is the actual routine that got Bynes hired for All That back in the day.
- Val and Todd's backstory in the same episode is a 90210 plot; Todd is played by Luke Perry.
- In the Season 4 episode where Holly and Val's father returns as Barry Bostwick, this time gay, he and the entire cast sing the Grease song, Summer Nights. Bostwick was the first Danny Zuko in the original, 1973 Broadway production
- Adorkable: Gary in the beginning, when he's a virgin who believes in conspiracy theories about pyramids and Stonehenge. Later, Henry.
- All Just a Dream: Val's drunken marriage to Todd the plumber at the end of season 3/beginning of season 4. When she wakes up, though, the drunken marriage to Vic is real.
- Anything That Moves: Lauren.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Val is afraid of sharks, bears and leaving the house with the flat iron on.
- Big Applesauce: Duh!
- Borrowed Catchphrase
Ben's wife: Benji!
- Brand X: Holly & Gary's "iBop" music player. Justified on the "Palm Pirate" and "Rulex" as Jeff being conned into buying knockoffs.
- Butt Monkey: Henry especially but Gary has moments too, particular before Henry was introduced.
- Call Back: "The Talk" has one to Gary's crush on Val in the first few episodes.
- The Cast Showoff: A musician was cast as Ben specifically for this. Allison Munn (Tina) also gets an episode to show off her voice.
- Subverted by Holly several times throughout the series; Bynes is a pro at Stylistic Suck singing.
- Catch Phrase: Gary's "Oh my damn!"
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Implied:
Lauren: When I don't have a boyfriend, I get to know myself pretty well.
- Dawson Casting: Extremely averted with Holly (who's in-universe birthdays were near Bynes'). Played straight with Henry, Vince and Gary, all of whom were played by actors who were 24/25 at the time of their introductions, and Tina, whose actress was 28 at the time of her introduction.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Everyone (except Holly) whenever Gary is shirtless.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Henry, when we first meet him. Vic, when he returns.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Gary Johann Thorpe
- Fiery Redhead: Tina
- Flanderization: Lauren was first introduced as a fellow employee at Val's office who was smart and competent enough to pose as a threat to Val. Yet after she was introduced the second time and became a permanent cast member, her character became a stereotypically dumb blonde who's too dumb to be believable.
- Foreshadowing: Double-Subverted. "Loose Lips" is a perfect setup for a developing Val-Vic romance in season 2. Then, over the summer, he leaves the firm. Two years later, he shows up & marries Val.
- Ironically, and perhaps Squickily, he had no problem flirting shamelessly with Holly in his first appearance.
- Friends Rent Control: Justified & semi-averted. At the start of the series, Val's been in the same apartment for several years, with a high-paying, upper-executive job & a roommate to split rent with.
- "Tyler v. World" shows a tiny, filthy, unlivable rat trap going for the same rent she's currently paying, at which point Val lampshades the rent control.
- The huge loft the Tylers move to in "The Loft" is offered at the same rent level by the owner after Holly does him a huge personal favor, & once Holly's gainfully employed in season 3, she splits the rent with Val.
- Grand Finale: "Finally..."
- Grandparental Obliviousness: Implied, since Nana does not have glaucoma, but medicates herself as though she did.
- Guide Dang It: Jeff's last name is seen only in the season 1 DVD cases.
- Heroic Sociopath: Lauren. Sometimes Tina as well.
- Holly has her moments, particularly in season 1 when there's no Tina, and especially in "The Game."
- Hey, It's That Girl: Jenna Fischer can be seen as an administrative assistant during season one.
- Halloween Episode: Two (seasons 3 & 4). Also two Thanksgiving episodes (seasons 1 & 4) and a Valentine's Day episode (season 1). No Christmas Episode, though.
- The Internet Is for Porn: Lauren is very surprised when Holly tells her that there are other things on the Internet besides porn.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Val went to Columbia, Peter went to Yale, Lauren's doctor boyfriend went to Harvard Medical School, and Henry attends Princeton. One episode revolved around Holly's interview with Columbia and her decision not to apply to Columbia.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Played with. Gary begins the series a virgin, & Henry's sexual resumé consists solely of his first time, though a fraction of Vince's or Peter's experience dwarfs them both combined.
- The Matchmaker: Holly and Lauren, for Val and Vic.
- Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: After breaking up with Jeff, Val spends a couple episodes being hyper-picky about dating prospects.
- My Friends and Zoidberg
Holly: (To Vic on proposing to Val) What could be better than giving her in front of all the people she loves? ...and Tina.
Vic: (Proposing to Val) So I want to ask you, in front of all the people you love...and Tina...
- My Girl Is a Slut: Tina, Tina, Lauren and Tina.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Holly. Val tries.
- New Job Episode: Played with. For Val & Lauren, the switch from public relations work to baking was permanent, as were Vince's shift from bike-messaging to real estate & Vic's transition to firefighting. Holly, Gary, & Tina, on the other hand, often found themselves in assorted short-lived employments, though Holly eventually settled in as a music manager.
- Noodle Incident: Numerous. As mentioned above, the show was co-created by Dan Schneider.
- The Other Darrin: Mr. Tyler was played by Peter Scolari in the pilot; when he came home to visit twice in the last season, he became Barry Bostwick. And gay.
- Parental Abandonment: Mrs. Tyler is dead, and Mr. Tyler moves to Japan in the pilot. Gary's and Tina's respective parents are divorced. Vince hates his father.
- Platonic Life Partners: Holly & Gary
- Product Placement: An episode was devoted to Holly and Tina competing to be in an Herbal Essences ad, both getting beat by the girl who was actually in the ad, which aired in the last scene of the episode.
- Promotion to Parent: Val
- Put on a Bus: Jeff, Peter and Ben, no two of whom ever even met each other.
- Henry as well. He returned for one episode in Season 3, however.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Gary's crutches; Wesley Jonathan had injured himself in an exhibition basketball game.
- Really Gets Around: Tina and Vince.
- Real Song Theme Tune: And Titled After the Song to boot.
- Relationship Upgrade: Holly & Vince, but then not, but then yes. Gary & Tina in the finale.
- Sex Changes Everything: Holly went flipping insane after "Halloween".
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Holly and Val start off Different As Night and Day, but through 4 years of rubbing off on each other, both start to balance out.
- Slap Slap Kiss: Gary & Tina
- Stalker with a Crush: In the earliest episodes, Gary to Val. In season 3, Vince to Holly.
- Teens Are Short: Averted. Teenage Amanda Bynes was 5'8, making her taller than adult Jennie Garth who was 5'5. Many episodes would actually have Garth wearing high heels and Bynes in sneakers so that they would appear to be the same height (sometimes even making Garth look taller).
- Three Amigos: Holly, Tina, and Gary from season 2 onward.
- Throw It In: The season 1 gag reel suggests that Bynes does this a lot.
- Time to Move: Played straight in "Tyler v. World", subverted in "The Loft" & "I Want My Baby Back".
- Token Minority: Gary
- Token Minority Couple: Averted. Gary does have two black girlfriends during the show's run, but one of his first dates is with a white girl, he has a crush on Val for a while, and he ultimately ends up with Tina.
- Walk On the Wild Side Episode: Jeff says to Val he wishes she was more spontaneous. She goes a bit wild during the episode but reveals at the end the whole experience "nearly killed me".
- What Happened to the Mouse?: From season 4's "Halloween", does Gary ever get his apple butter!?
- And in one episode Val goes to a speed dating service, meets a very nice guy, who seems really interested. He stands her up. Val goes to look for him, but finds Peter instead. Never addressed: what happened to the mystery man?
- With a Friend and a Stranger: Holly (main character), Gary (the friend), and Tina (the stranger).
- You Look Familiar: A couple former Beverly Hills, 90210 actors say this to Val.
- Your Cheating Heart: Holly's knowledge of Vince's past makes her paranoid about this.
- They even named an episode "Your Cheatin' Heart."