Mini-Review: Revenge


One-hour drama

ABC, 2011-present

Sunday, 9 pm EST

Starring: Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe, Gabriel Mann, Henry Czerny

Created by: Mike Kelley

Intellectually, I recognize “Revenge” as pure camp—the word is even in lead actress Emily VanCamp’s name, after all. The premise of a pretty, blonde twentysomething, with infinite income, who goes to the Hamptons to exact revenge on the people who conspired to put her father in prison for a crime he didn’t commit is so contrived that to call it anything other than camp is to suggest you don’t own a dictionary. Yet, for all its implausibility, “Revenge” is oddly—though perhaps not surprisingly—compelling. To build a show upon such an absurd scenario requires a certain awareness of the absurdity, and I would argue that “Revenge” playfully exploits the tropes of its genre, even as it commits to them. All of the characters verge on caricature, nearly every one a scheming, deceitful opportunist who cares for others only insofar as it will advance his or her own goals. Still, these exaggerated motivations are not unconvincing, nor are the actions that result: no doubt all of us have at one time or another wished we could respond as these privileged people do.

“Revenge” allows its viewers to indulge in fantasies both light and pitch-black. The opulence of the Hamptons, and life on the beach, is on full display, and it is impossible not to get a vicarious thrill out of observing the lavish parties and extravagant homes of the super-wealthy. So too is the backstabbing equally enticing. The gratification of well-executed retribution cannot be underestimated. “Revenge” appeals to our darker impulses, while occasionally reminding us of why we must resist acting on them. It’s a frothy, nighttime soap opera, but it still offers something the psyche needs.

Leave a comment


  1. Revenge is one of my guilty pleasures 🙂
    Great review!

    • Thanks! I just got into “Revenge” about a month ago, so I am completely obsessed with it right now. (I just caught up to the latest episode today, in fact.) It’s definitely one of my “guilty pleasures,” but not one I’m so guilty about that I won’t recommend it to everyone I know.


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