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The Daily Beast: "Revenge is not only winking noir, it’s a retribution fantasy for the 99 percent"

ABC’s hit nighttime soap Revenge is not only winking noir, it’s a retribution fantasy for the 99 percent.

Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, in which I visit the set of Revenge and talk to its creator, Mike Kelley, and cast members--including Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe, and Gabriel Mann--about the show’s popularity.

It’s difficult to escape the narrative lure that ABC’s nighttime soap Revenge—equal parts vengeance fantasy, noir-tinged thriller, and sprawling character-based soap—casts in its wake. The drama (Wednesdays at 10 p.m), inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, has been featured everywhere from the cover of Entertainment Weekly to a sumptuous Oscar-night promo.

Every one of its deliriously unexpected plot twists is voraciously dissected on Twitter by the Revenge faithful, captivated by the show’s premise: a young woman, Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), returns to the Hamptons to wreak havoc on those who destroyed her family, exacting a bitter, um, revenge that tightens a noose around the necks of the wealthy residents of the Long Island community, even as she finds herself caught in a love triangle between Daniel (Joshua Bowman), the son of femme fatale Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) who destroyed her family’s fragile happiness, and her childhood crush, Jack (Nick Wechsler). Emily—criminal mastermind, computer hacker, cat burglar, and willing arsonist, not to mention a ronin in Giuseppe Zanotti stilettos—recalls Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander as much as she does Dumas’s Edmond Dantès. Forget about the Hamptons, this show is firmly based in Crazy Town, as Emily commits every crime short of murder to achieve her ends.

“She wants them to suffer the way that she has suffered her entire life,” said VanCamp, sitting in a smoke-filled dive bar a few blocks from the ocean, which is standing in as a low-rent meeting place for her character. “That’s the only satisfaction that she can ever get. She’s missing that forgiveness is ultimately the best way out.”

While VanCamp said this, she was wearing a brown wig, sapphire-blue contact lenses, and the sort of low-cut skimpy dress that would have landed Lindsay Lohan in the tabloids back in the day, a disguise pulled from Emily Thorne’s figuratively bottomless bag of tricks. This costume is fairly standard fare for Revenge, which deals easily in vertiginous doubles and assumed identities, among other tropes. An attempted murder is caught on tape from the belly of a whale statuette; two characters are revealed to be unlikely siblings; a down-and-out stripper bludgeons a private investigator to death. It’s heady and out-there stuff, the show’s innate campiness fusing with a dose of actual homoeroticism at times. From the outside, Revenge is a show that should never have succeeded, one with a seemingly ludicrous and close-ended plot, stuck in a dead-end time slot, and with a star who had made her bones in earnest fare like Everwood and Brothers & Sisters. Yet it’s getting roughly 8 million viewers per week, with just the right sort of audience in these ratings-starved times.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...


Alex said…
I have to admit that I was so against the show before it premiered last year. As you mention, it has an utterly ludicrous plot that I felt wouldn't hold up... apparently I was wrong. I am now a huge fan and watch it avidly each week. It's soap melodrama at its finest and sometimes that's all you need for a mid-week pick me up.

You should check out my podcast, Geek Out Girls, where I talk about all things entertainment related.

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