Because the weather in the northeast has become unpredictably hot like Canadian actress Emily VanCamp. (Like really? Who saw that coming?) Because Madeleine Stowe once decided to leave Hollywood to become a farmer but luckily returned to be one of the sexiest fifty-somethings on television. Because as the 2011-2012 television season comes to a close, we reflect on how difficult it was for ABC to find a new series that didn’t embarrass a famously defunct airline, Aaron Spelling’s ghost, Tim Allen’s tool belt, or the network itself. Because Wednesdays seem so hollow and humdrum without Revenge gracing our tubes with its weekly dose of crimson and guile. Because top arbitrary amount of things lists are an easy way to fill up a blog post for the uncreative. Whatever the cause of its conception, here lies the top five reasons to rewatch (if you haven’t already hopped on the bandwagon by now, I weep for you) the alphabet network’s clinic on compellingly satisfying TV Revenge:
5. Connor Paolo fans (I know you’re out there, Paolo-itos!) get promptly reintroduced to classic Eric van der Woodsen steez, as if to provide refuge to the hordes of Gossip Girl expats who clamor for a return to UES prep school attire. The character of Declan Porter on Revenge seems to be an appropriate remix of both Eric and Dan — if middle class Long Island towny isn’t the Brooklyn bred not-so-starving artist of 2012, I don’t know what is. And somehow, this amalgam works pretty well in the Hamptons. Declan has the relatively rough backstory to give his usually opaque whimpers (and complexion) some color. Speaking of…
4. The color red. It’s everywhere. It foreshadows, underscores, and highlights. It somehow legitimizes an almost too simple premise and title card. The scarlet color palette is just part of the richly provocative aesthetic of Revenge. The sartorial direction must be noted as well.1 The pilot episode sets a precedent by introducing a majority of the players in snazzy red formal attire under the auspices of both an engagement party and a murder. Revenge appears most palpable when red, and the series is most stirring when it explores relationship and/or displays violence. The color red connotes bloodshed and lust simultaneously, and the series persistently teeters between the two to the benefit of its viewers.
3. The show’s sheer consistency in performance has to be praised. Those that follow TV show advanced metrics (is that a real thing yet?), may appreciate the stats where Revenge excels: ranking first in dramatic reveals per televised hour, leading the pack in voiceover efficiency quotient, and off the charts scores in flashback utilization rate. There’s’ simply something impressive about the exposition of story in the series. Creator Mike Kelley, of One Tree Hill and The O.C. fame, exploits familiar tropes — from combat training and wisdom gaining from older Asian men to young love struggling to traverse disparate upbringings — to bring essentially The Count of Monte Cristo: Suffolk County Edition to the small screen from a female perspective.
2. And that female perspective is terrific. Emily VanCamp’s performance makes the television you overpaid for because some kid at Best Buy made fun of you for not going bigger when you really just wanted him to explain why your antenna stopped working worth every cent. She effectively manages a host of storylines, identities, romances, red outfits, fight scenes, scowls, fake smiles, real smiles, and lies. Emily as Emily Thorne or Amanda Clarke, as a brunette or a blonde, delicate or ass-kicking, is simply a joy to watch. She’s a sympathetic female protagonist who operates with a level of agency and competence regrettably uncommon among TV’s leading ladies. No lady from Liz Lemon to the Girls girls is as capable as Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne. In fact, she’s more comparable to Don Draper. Yeah, I said it. Revenge should be called Mad WoMen. (I know. Sorry.)
1. That brings me to the final reason you should rewatch the addictive first season of Revenge this summer, and prepare for its Fall return: Emily VanCamp’s ascension from girl next door cute to femme fatale hot, alongside Madeleine Stowe’s reassertion of her own unwavering good looks as summer ice queen of the Hampton’s, Victoria Grayson.2 The two of them playing off one another is captivating, if only for the high level of pretty that each brings to the table. Fundamentally, that is what the show offers — a casual dalliance into the world of the beautifully coiffed 1%. There’s certainly something superficial about the appeal of the series, but when superficial is done well enough, what’s genuine is how much you enjoy where you’ve found yourself, how interested you are in the pretty faces. In that, the most important reason to rewatch Revenge is truly Emily VanCamp’s interestingly (unconventionally?) pretty face and everything that it may represent for a viewer.
There’s certainly something significant to be said about the ability of this young woman to lead a successful network series as a fully dressed, strong, and able woman. But I’d rather close with the latest gossip that Emily VanCamp was spotted making out with her costar, Josh Bowman (Daniel Grayson).3
1And the lovely Ashley Madekwe must be mentioned here. Aside from being an unabashed fashionista on and off the screen, I spent at least four episodes deciphering her racial makeup. I settled on her being part Black, Western African, because of her English accent but she was definitely Puerto Rican or Bengali for a scene or two. She’s like a chameleon, always just the right color, always just the right outfit.
2In 1994 she was one of People‘s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.” In 1995, she was one of Empire‘s “100 Sexiest Stars in film history.”
3Greatest disappointment from Revenge‘s first season: Daniel not being dead. And now, he’s smooching my boo.