“What I Like About You” is a hidden gem from the early 2000s!

If you’re frantically looking for the next serotonin-boosting show to cheer you up, exhausted and fragile, What I like about you — a vastly underrated sitcom that aired on the WB nearly two decades ago — is finally available to stream.

Imagine this: it’s 2002. All your current worries are temporarily suspended as you are mentally transported to a simpler time – a time when people frequented Blockbuster, flared jeans and Ugg boots were fashion staples, Maroon 5’s. Songs about Jane just released, and the sound of laughter bits didn’t make you cringe.

In this distant but pleasantly familiar world, teenage Amanda Bynes plays Holly Tyler, an exuberant 16-year-old who faces a major life crisis. Holly’s father has just found a new job in Japan and he expects her to uproot her life to move in with him. (The Audacity!) While he flies off to settle down, Holly travels to New York for a week to crash with her 28-year-old sister, Valerie (Jennie Garth). Hoping to make the temporary living situation permanent, Holly tries to convince Val that she would be a perfect roommate, but instead turns out to be a massive, albeit adorable, intrusion.

Image: Wb-Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

Val and Holly may be sisters, but without the common last name, you’d be hard pressed to believe they’re related. Val is a quiet perfectionist who thrives amid organization and order. She rarely lets loose, and the mere thought of breaking the rules could cause her to break out in hives. Holly, on the other hand, likes to have fun. He is an extroverted, clumsy, and accident-prone chaos magnet who constantly finds himself in precarious positions. Essentially, she’s the anti-Val, so it makes sense that the two sisters struggle to coexist. Their opposing personalities are a constant source of tension throughout the series, but Holly and Val eventually balance each other out. As they navigate careers, relationships, friendships, heartbreak, and milestones over four seasons, you’ll find their chemistry and unique dynamics impossible to resist.

While the ladies are more than capable of commanding the screen on their own, Season 1 also introduces a charming best friend, Gary (Wesley Jonathan), and a restaurant-owning boyfriend, Jeff (Simon Rex). As the series progresses, notable new characters – including Henry (Michael McMillan), Vince (Nick Zano), Lauren (Leslie Grossman) and Tina (Allison Munn) – also enter the lives of the Tyler girls and become get caught up in the seemingly endless chain of hijinks almost immediately.

What I like this

Like someone who loved What I like about you when it was on the air and spent years watching reruns on Freeform and Nickelodeon, I’m not afraid to say I was moved when I learned that all 86 episodes began airing on HBO Max in January 2021. The news is huge for early fans looking to reacquaint themselves with the show, but it’s also great for a new audience – anyone in the mood for a smooth, low-stakes, comfortable binge.

Bynes comes across effortlessly authentic, as if she was born to play the feisty Holly Tyler.

There’s a lot to love and love about What I like about you, but the massive dose of soothing nostalgia the sitcom delivers is one of its current best draws. The series is like a digital time capsule filled with music, pop culture references, technology, fashion trends, and familiar faces from decades past. You’ll recognize a bunch of famous cameos, including Tony Hawk, Megan Fox, Penn Badgely, Jenna Fischer, and Jesse McCartney. And if you are a 90210 fan, get ready, because you will see Jennie Garth reuniting with Ian Ziering, Luke Perry, and Jason Priestley too.

What I like about you clearly has his fair share of star power, but no one shines brighter than Bynes, who was just released The Amanda Show and Huge liar when the pilot aired in 2002. From the first scene where Holly drops into her father’s suitcase to protest the move (and then dramatically falls out), Bynes captivates. His endearing and signature style of humor shines across the screen and repeatedly forces a smile on your face. Bynes comes across effortlessly authentic, as if she was born to play feisty Holly Tyler, and watching her carry the character confidently while ricocheting perfectly between silly and serious will remind you of her incredible talent and range.

If you ever considered yourself an Amanda Bynes fan, What I like about you is essential viewing.

All aboard your new ship, everyone.

All aboard your new ship, everyone.

Image: Wb-Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

Aside from a series of ridiculously implausible scenarios that would only happen on TV, there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about What I like about youthe scenario. But that’s what makes the show so remarkable. It’s a classic sitcom about family, friends, and dating that ticks all the boxes you want. It has gorgeous apartments filled with exposed brickwork and PB Teen-style decor that will leave you envious. It has cozy restaurants and bakeries that make it perfect group meeting places. And there are sexual tensions, crushes and love triangles galore.

Like many shows from 2002, the series hasn’t aged perfectly, but the majority still holds up today. As is the case with other old shows adapted for streaming (looking at you, Dawson’s Creek) the original What I like about you the theme song – a lively cover of Lillix from The Romantics jam, “What I Like About You” – was also replaced with a much less fitting melody. Luckily, you can still see the original Season 1 and later season openers online.

If you like female-led comedies like Gilmore Girlsbrother show like sister, sister and the short-lived sitcom Mary-Kate and Ashley So little timeor series that follow roommates and groups of friends like new girl Where Friendswatching What I like about you should be obvious. If you watched the Teen Choice Awards without irony in your youth, you owe it to yourself to binge on this show as an adult. And if you frequently scour streaming platforms for sweet and enjoyable hidden gems, the series deserves the top spot on your “must watch” list.

I never thought that at 27 I would devour – let alone console myself – a TV show I started watching when I was nine, but here I am. I skimmed through all four seasons in less than four days (in my defense, each episode is only 20 minutes long) and rejoiced in the years of joyful memories and beloved characters that washed over me. The show is a reminder that no matter how carefully you plan your life, things can, and in all likelihood will be get ejected from the course. It’s a reminder to stay strong and go with the flow, and I can’t think of a better time to internalize that message.

What I like about you is streaming on HBO Max.

Helen D. Jessen