Review: Revenge

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. It is, after all,  best to get back at those who wronged you when they least expect it and after the matter has settled – in their minds at least.

ABC’s primetime drama series Revenge toys with this basic premise and introduces us into the high society world that connects the wealth looted in Wallstreet to the kind of narcissistic lifestyles and decadence it creates in the outskirts of the city, in the idyllic and posh Hamptons. It tells the story of a young woman who does exactly that: take revenge on those who wronged her by making them do horrible things to each other.

Years after the injustice that landed her father in jail and then cost him his life, Amanda Clark (Emily Vankamp) moves back to the Hamptons and charms the pants off her “new” neighbors — while plotting their downfall for sins committed against her family.

This modern day drama is inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo, in which the protagonist – after years of wrongful imprisonment  – finally returns to get revenge on those responsbile for his demise.

Revenge is an intriguing show if you can look past the gaping plot holes, if you can suspend disbelief to the 15th power and if you in general are the kind of person who enjoys watching stylized high society soap operas. Otherwise you will spend your time trying to make sense of how, for example, a little girl/woman can actually manage to take down an entire empire, why things just fall into place conveniently to achieve the desired plot outcome and why a thirty-something year old guy is a billionaire.

This is one of those shows that precipitated in light of the Occupy Wall-street movement but with the basic structure of shows like Dynasty and Dallas. It is primetime soap.

Emily Vankamp playingalm bad-ass

There is a lot of unconvincing stuff going on in this show – from not only the actions of the characters but also their feelings and emotions. People fall in and out of love with each other at a drop of a hat, true to soap opera form, someone believed to be dead ends up actually being alive and when they do come back everyone is as “shocked” about seeing this person again as they would be if that person had returned from a long vacation. Things also seem to be strangely falling into place when convenient and the plot “twists” are doctored and predictable.

They were trying to pull a Point of No Return here but it failed as this story is basically about a bunch of obscenely wealthy people who engage in the most heinous acts so they can continue living in the lap of wealth and luxury. Because of this, their “plight” and struggles do not evoke much sympathy. What do I care if the main lead brings down her scumbag husband? She is a scumbag herself. In fact, every character is a despicable human being you don’t care about.

To make matters worse, the miscasting of Emily Vankamp as the skilled, edgy and angry former delinquent with martial arts skills akin to The Bride in Kill Bill further leads to the unbelievability of the story. Emily Vankamp is just not very believable as the angry, former troublemaker from juvie out to avenge her dead father.  She seems too tame and proper. It’s like you took a girl from the OC and said “here, play the little assassin“. It just looked ridiculous and was very unconvincing

 That is because Vankamp is just not convincing as the real Amanda Clarke. She is supposed to be this complex character stuck between her conscience and her relentless desire for revenge, a woman who is deeply angry and manipulative becasue she needed to be that person in order to take down a mogul. But Emily Vankamp is just not that person. We do not see that complexity and the struggle. Her character portrayal is too calm and composed; too unconflicted. 

In fact, all the characters are mechanic and barely inhabit their roles.

Sporadically there is some excellent writing in there but that is rare becasue those excellent parts are interrupted by these annoying soap opera like plot twists and unbelievable character portrayals.

So if you don’t mind watching a bunch of poor rich people and their heart wrenching struggles to remain on top of the food chain, con each other out of millions they in turn conned out of some poor unknowing soul, then this is the show for you. If, on the other hand, soap operas with two dimensional characters and strange plot twists and unbelievable, implausible story lines aren’t your cup of tea, then I recommend not tuning in at all.

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