From the realms of Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives and 91210, E4 now brings us yet another ABC drama about plotting, conniving and uber-rich Americans. And we love it.
Directed by Sanford Booksaver (The O.C, Prison Break) Revenge stars Emily VanCamp (Brothers and Sisters), who plays a beautiful, intelligent and bitter Emily Thorne – a girl on a mission to exact ‘revenge’ on those responsible for wrongfully convicting and killing her father. This of course all takes place in the multi-millionaire’s summer retreat that is the Hamptons.
The series starts in the midst of Emily and Daniel Grayson’s (Josh Bowman) engagement party. Daniel is missing, three shots ring out from the beach and just as we are about to get clarification that Grayson’s been murdered, we rewind five months.
We now move forward in a chronological order but with frequent flashbacks. Emily arrives in the Hamptons and rents a house next to the gigantic monstrosity of a mansion that belongs to the Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) and Conrad Grayson and their two children Daniel and Charlotte.
A flashback reveals that Emily has lived in the house she rents before, as a child, with her father and that he had a relationship with Victoria. Emily then produces a photograph of 22 of her Hampton neighbours, all of whom played, in some way or another, a role in her father’s demise. As episode one concludes, she takes a red marker pen and crosses out the face of her first victim.
There are 22 episodes to the series, so you get the gist – one traitor bites-the-dust every episode. It sounds simplistic, ill-thought through and predictable, but for some reason the connecting of dots plot works. It’s addictive; we want to see Emily cross of the last face from the photograph; we want closure; we yearn for the end but don’t want it to end.
If the plot’s bad but works, then the characters are worse and work even better. Two-dimensional, with the inability to have conversations with each-other without having at least one three-second penetrative glance into the camera, the Revenge cast are truly atrocious. VanCamp’s portrayal of Emily Thorne looks as if she’s attempting to method act but getting it very wrong. Bowman’s Daniel Grayson is completely unoriginal – the character is quite simply a reincarnation of The OC’s Luke, just with dark hair.
But, Victoria Grayson takes the biscuit, with a chest so huge that it supports her chin and a face so pumped full of botox that it’s emotionally barren, she truly is the embodiment of all things superficial. She’s the perfect stereotype; we don’t have to use any cerebral matter to come up with our own more suitable version, which sadly makes for fantastic viewing.
The setting of the Hamptons is the icing on the cake, as summer fails to reach our sorry Island, every Monday we can be transported to the other side of the Atlantic and spend an hour experiencing how the other half live. Parties, yachts, the latest fashions and women made-up within an inch of their lives, Revenge offers us the opportunity to imagine what being a multi-millionaire American would be like.
We say that we’re happier here, that we don’t need all of Jimmy Choo’s latest heels and that we are better people, but that doesn’t stop our fascination with the rich. Whether it’s Desperate Housewives, 91210, or dare I say it, Made in Chelsea, we’re obsessed with wealth and extravagant spending. It’s our guilty pleasure.
Revenge has all the ingredients to be a complete flop but has somehow defied the norm and become a raging success. Bringing in more than triple the viewers for the (9-10pm) slot on E4 last week, the show is now a weekly fix for more and more of the nation. Artistic talent: no. Addictive watching: yes.
Beware: once you start you won’t be able to stop.