[info]aldiara wrote
on May 17th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Shameless pimping: Revenge

Yeah, yeah, I know. SO MUCH TO WATCH ALREADY. I don't care, you guys - I still need to introduce you to my new show!crush. I think it's time my friends knew about us. I mean, it's not like we're *dating* or anything. This isn't the kind of show for a steady relationship. It's the kind of show that you watch and mock and tease and make out with a few drunken times, and then before you know it, you're having FEELINGS and you know you're fucked. Because you know the FEELINGS will be used against you. You know you're losing ground. You know you should turn back, that you're already in too deep. But you can't stop.

So I don't know what exactly it is we're doing, and I know whatever it is might end up destroying me, but I know I don't want to stop.

Friendslist, please meet my beautiful, fucked-up, funny, soapy, gritty, issues-ridden crush...

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The show's plot is (very) loosely inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo; set among the massive mansions of the upper class in the Hamptons, it tells the story of a young woman named Amanda Clarke who infiltrates the filthy-rich and influential Grayson family with one single purpose: To systematically and completely destroy their lives. When Amanda was a little girl, her father was set up as a terrorist by the Graysons and went to prison (where he was later murdered) for a crime he didn't commit. Among the prime conspirators was Victoria Grayson, the woman her father loved and who ended up betraying him. Separated from her father when she was eight, Amanda now returns as a grown-up, with a fake identity and a careful, elaborate, ruthless plan for vengeance. And she has no interest in getting closure.

If you heard a ridiculously dramatic narrator voice whilst reading that, LOL YES. So far, so soapy! I started out watching this as something similar-though-superior to Ringer, and there *are* many parallels - it's glossy and shiny and populated by insanely beautiful people who are constantly scheming to ruin each other.

But it's also so much more than that. The sleekness and elegance is just a thin veneer over an abyss of issues and fucked-up-ness and feelings-you-can-feel.

Reasons to watch Revenge:

1. The Cast

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The actors are fantastic and well-cast and most of the characters are layered and wonderfully developed. Best of all, there is a marked dearth of Mary Sues or annoying goody-goodies. All of these people are entirely made up of shades of grey. And these actors BRING IT!

2. The Main Character - Amanda Clarke

Amanda Clarke a.k.a. Emily Thorne, played by Emily VanCamp, who is so lovely that I sometimes forget to breathe when watching her:

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Emily is fast becoming one of my favourite heroines ever. She is unapologetically ruthless. She has a plan and she means to see it through, no matter the losses, and morals be damned. This is endlessly intriguing because while she is far from being a shrinking flower, she is also no psychopath. She makes no excuse for some of the things she does. But she is fully aware that her actions have consequences and even that her need for vengeance might destroy innocents and might irreparably damage herself. She accepts this. She is vulnerable yet steely-minded. She's a master of hiding her feelings. She fucks up and sometimes she's lucky, and above all, she's smart. She can think on her feet and her schemes always make sense (something that Ringer's ploys and manouevres stopped doing at about episode 2, lol).

I find it so refreshing to have a female main character who is badass but not in a superhero/suspend-disbelief/infallible way; someone who is extremely morally ambiguous but whose actions always make sense and are well-motivated; and who is in no way a Mary Sue.

Also, Emily VanCamp is delivering a truly breathtaking performance. [info]alsha mentioned that she reminds her of Firefly's Inara, and she's right - her poise is incredible. And she has the most beautiful voice.

And... everything:



(And she goes through so many hair colours/styles \o/ #hairisallthatmatters)

3. Nolan Ross:

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Nolan was a friend of Amanda's father and is one of the very few people who is aware of her agenda. He is sort of a friend, sort of an uneasy ally, sort of a brother/father figure to Amanda, and they also have ambivalent semi-UST chemistry, all of which adds up to one hell of a fascinating relationship.

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Nolan himself is a snarky, sharp-tongued billionaire geekboy with a keen wit and a heart of pudding. He describes himself as "a 3 on the Kinsey Scale", and indeed he has mad chemistry with anything that walks. He and Emily make a brilliant team of troubled allies, and I live in fear of the day when her ruthlessness may turn against him, because he won't stand a chance. OR WILL HE. Arrrrgh.

Think Spike meets Logan Echolls meets LOST's Sawyer meets Bill Gates meets Jaime Lannister meets Draco Malfoy. (yes, Draco Malfoy. More on that in a minute.)

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[FANGIRLY TANGENT OF GABRIEL MANN LUSTING]
Nolan is played by Gabriel Mann, who imbues this role with so much wit and character and geeky charm that as a result of this show, I suspect I will be watching Everything He's Been In, Ever.

In recent years, Gabriel Mann spent his time modelling with other hot boys...

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...making interview statements that consolidate my burgeoning crush...

"I am happy to be in a position where I can do what I love and have total anonymity with my personal life. I wouldn't want my private life be public... that side of fame is kind of scary to me."

...and, oh yeah, Being Draco Malfoy:

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Honestly? The man's awesome knows no bounds. But that's no reason not to go exploring said bounds :DDDDDDDDD

[/FANGIRLY TANGENT OF GABRIEL MANN LUSTING]

4. Victoria Grayson

Okay, I'm sure I have mentioned many many times that I wish to be Madeleine Stowe when I grow up:

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THE WOMAN IS FREAKING 53. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??

Ahem. Victoria is Amanda's main target - as a child, she witnessed this woman betraying Amanda's father, the man she purported to love. But nothing on this show is as simple as it first seemed, and Victoria Grayson definitely isn't. There is so much hidden underneath her flawlessly beautiful Society Queen veneer that I am not even going to try and delve into it. Suffice it to say that she will suck you in with her iron shields and her luminous eyes and the way she smiles most brightly when her heart is most broken.

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FEELINGS!!

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FEELINGS IN RED.

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FEELINGS WITH SMILES.

5. The Other Characters

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Conrad Grayson, Victoria's deliciously unscrupulous husband. You hate him, you cuss him out, and then you suddenly feel for him. Then you go take a couple anti-fever pills and have a glass of wine and then you come back and hate him again, only deep down you will always wonder whether you truly sympathised with him for a moment, and nothing will ever be the same again.

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This is Ashley, party planner extra-ordinaire, employee to Victoria Grayson and Amanda's best friend. OR IS SHE.

Either way, LOOKIT THE PRETTY.

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This is Daniel, Victoria's son and the man who is an important part of Amanda's intricate revenge plans. He is a bit of a bland rich boy who makes the perfect pawn for Amanda's ploys. OR DOES HE.

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This is Tyler, Daniel's best friend who harbours a deep suspicion about Amanda, but then that may just be a cover for his own agenda. OR IS IT.

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This is the real Emily Thorne, a girl from Amanda's past with whom she switched identities in order to carry out her revenge plans. Emily is also part of my absolute favourite sub-plot - the story of a rivalry/friendship between two very different young women whose feelings for each other are complex and fascinating. I think the best way I can describe it is this relationship gave me Buffy/Faith vibes - there is deep understanding, loyalty and genuine affection, but then there is also a wealth of other factors that interfere and fuck everything up.

AND THE SPARKS, PEOPLE. THE SPARKS.

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Guh.

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This is Jack Porter, Amanda's best friend from when she was little, who doesn't recognise her in her grown-up Emily-guise. Jack is a decent, hard-working, self-deprecating bartender and sailor type person. He is also a bit boring, although he gains some profile later on. There is romantic sparkage between him and Amanda but thank god they don't take it too deeply into OTP territory. Amusingly, Nolan keeps seeking his friendship, for reasons clearly to do with nothing more than deep and abiding lust.

And then there are loads of other characters and many of them are really interesting, but good lord, this is already long enough.

6. The Story

As previously mentioned, The Count of Monte Cristo served as an inspiration for this show. Initially, that made me sceptical, because I figured having a novel as source material was limiting the premise of the show. But I have since come to see the error of my ways. The connection is *there* enough that you can see the bridging elements and appreciate the show's clever little homage nods to Dumas. At the same time, it diverges plenty. The twists keep coming and you can't guess any of them based on source material alone. There are always tantalising possibilities that might still happen if you've read the novel, so you can play with the plot in your head, but it's never anything as basic as just going with something that's been done before.

And this is clever writing, people. Granted, there are plenty of soapy developments, but I never got the feeling that they were just throwing out twists to keep suspense going artificially. This is a show that keeps you on your toes and engaged and guessing, but it's never gimmicky or illogical. I dig that.

7. There is also stuff like this...

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(I hear you people are into wallslamming)

...and this...

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(Don't get comfy, though. There is NO cuddling and kissing on this show, and everyone has an ulterior motive, which doesn't mean they can't also be sincere but even if they are, chances are said sincerity will get ruthlessly exploited. It is seriously Issues Heaven.)

And apparently next week's season finale has this to offer among other things:

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I CAN NOT STOP FLAIL.

8. And there's a puppy.

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The puppy is wise. The puppy knows all.

9. Colour-themed parties:

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10. Let's look at that cast again:

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(Do they need to be mostly naked? No, of course not. BUT WHY WOULDN'T THEY BE?)


So, yeah. I REGRET NOTHING. The show is currently nearing its season 1 finale (episode 22 airs next week), and it's been tight and engaging and suspenseful throughout, with plenty of humour and emotion to keep it real. And unlike certain other shows I could name *coughcough RINGER coughcough*, there is plenty of life left in this premise - I could easily watch another 3 seasons of this, and I am so glad that there's going to be more.

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