By Curt Wagner
10:56 AM CST, November 16, 2011
“Revenge” producer Mike Kelley is kind of a genius.
I try not to throw that word around lightly, but the Winnetka native earns the praise for creating a must-see, damn-it’s-not-on-this-week drama at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC.
I’d call it a guilty pleasure, but I feel no guilt at all enjoying it.
Kelley’s real genius—and I’m an idiot for not seeing this earlier but I was too preoccupied with all its soapy goodness—is that he’s taken on the recession in an incredibly entertaining way.
Having the show’s main character, Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) plot the downfall of the corrupt rich folks who destroyed her father, Kelley is tapping into America’s current frustration with economic inequality—and distrust of the “1 percent.”
He’s given viewers in the lower and middle classes a hero. Emily’s doing what all those protesters on Wall Street, in Chicago and other major cities want to do. “Revenge” is Occupy Hamptons, if you will.
It’s also just plain fun.
Let me catch you up: Emily has moved back to the Hamptons to exact revenge on the wealthy folks who years earlier set up her now dead father and ruined her life. While in juvie, she swapped identities with another woman, who now uses Emily’s real name, Amanda Clarke.
Loaded with the money her father left her, our Emily spares no expense to destroy her targets (and they have been dropping like flies). She’s tapped her dad’s confidante, tech gazillionaire Nolan (Gabriel Mann), to help her in her quest. Her prime targets are Hamptons socialite Victoria (Madeline Stowe) and Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny), but she’ll happily take down others who get in her way.
In order to get to the Graysons, she’s been romancing their son, Daniel (Joshua Bowman), but she’s actually falling for the hottie. She’s also sweet on blue-collar hunk Jack (Nick Wechsler), with whom the young Amanda used to play.
Many plot twists have ensued over the episodes—which I encourage you to watch legally at abc.com or wherever they are online—but those are the basics.
The Nov. 16 episode, “Treachery,” promises to deliver squeal-worthy moments because the real Emily—I’ll refer to her as Amanda (Margarita Levieva)—has come to town after dispatching private eye Frank with a tire iron.
Amanda’s arrival can only make Emily’s situation even more complex and difficult, as you can see in the video sneaks above. Also tonight, Queen Victoria takes in her former bestie Lydia (Amber Valletta), the gal who had an affair with Conrad before Frank pushed her off a building.
See what I mean about the soapy fun? As I pointed out in my earlier review, “Revenge” delivers plenty of eye-rolling, unbelievable moments and over-the-top dialogue, but it’s just immensely watchable.
VanCamp, who formerly played sweet girls on “Brothers & Sisters” and “Everwood,” was cast against type as Emily and she’s nailing it. She makes Emily steely while plotting but also confused because she’s falling for Daniel. Thanks to VanCamp’s terrific performance, we believe that Emily knows her need for revenge may likely destroy her.
Stowe delivers a delicious, ice cold performance. She elevates what is basically a soap opera mainstay—the bitchy diva—to a sublime creature worthy of the Queen title fans have bestowed upon her. Don’t you just love the way she sizes up every person she encounters and every situation she’s in? A stare from her could freeze fire.
Mann irritates me as Nolan, but that’s exactly why I love his portrayal of the nerdy meddler. And I have to agree with AOL’s Maureen Ryan, he’s turned another annoying character, Tyler (Ashton Holmes), into someone more interesting. I could not have been happier to see Nolan confront Tyler about his gigolo history—and blackmail bed him in the process.
I'm giggling as I write this story. I just love "Revenge."
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