This Catch-Up is written by Telaina Eriksen
Year of Release (originally aired): 2011 & 2012
Rating: TV PG/PG-13 (A lot of people die, leaving a dramatic pool of blood spreading slowly around them.)
Currently Streaming on Netflix?: Yes.
It’s me, your local cheater, bringing television once more into the realm of Catch-Up. I haven’t watched a ton of movies lately that were Catch-Up worthy. We did watch Maleficent this weekend and while I enjoyed that, it is certainly being promo-d enough that it doesn’t need a Catch-Up. Instead, I will write about what my husband calls my soap opera. Since Netflix is my primary source of TV and movies, there are many TV shows I haven’t even heard of that have been on for years. With the increasing fragmentation of cable programming and the speed at which shows are axed, someone with much more pop culture savvy than myself can have trouble keeping up with television shows, let alone me–a busy middle-aged mom who basically watches three “current” TV shows—Game of Thrones, Blacklist, and The Big Bang Theory. I had never heard of Revenge before it popped up in my Netflix as suggested for you! Our best guess for Telaina 5 stars!
I could go into the set of circumstances that made me wander from my stuffed instant queue (oh whoops, “my list”) and click on Revenge, but it would probably be over-sharing. Suffice to say, I’ve had kind of a tough fall and I was looking for some fluffy entertainment.
I decided I would watch one episode of Revenge to see if I liked it. Well here I am, a month later, starting on Season 3. The premise of Revenge seems simple—Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) moves next door to the Graysons (Madeleine Stowe chews scenery as Victoria Grayson and Henry Czerny looks and acts like a perfect douche as Conrad Grayson) both of whom betrayed her father. Emily plans to emotionally, financially and physically damage them in the same way her father was destroyed. (He was accused of a crime he didn’t commit and was then murdered in prison at their command.) The trouble is, every time Emily succeeds in one of her machinations, she usually triggers someone else to then want to take revenge on the person they think has caused their ill-luck. There is not a Buddhist or a radically compassionate Christian in this group—it’s a mean-spirited bunch, for sure. Sometimes the wronged party identifies this person correctly as Emily but sometimes they fall for Emily’s misdirection and start to wreak havoc on a person who had nothing to do with their current set of circumstances. I would say an innocent person but again, none of these characters are innocent. Also, as much as Emily tries, she can’t control and manipulate everyone, so people are constantly going rogue which then interferes with her intricate schemes.
My favorite character by far is Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann) who is Emily’s BFF and tech henchman. Nolan wanders through the show stealing every scene that he is in, spouting witticisms and having sex with both men and women as the mood strikes him. The fact that he thinks his bisexuality is unworthy of comment as does Emily, makes me love this show probably way more than I should. I root for Nolan as he kisses both guys and girls, but because he is neck-deep in Emily’s dark plans, he keeps having serious trouble in his love life, regardless of the gender of the person he is dating.
Nolan not only functions as what is left of Emily’s heart and conscience, but he is also the show’s comic relief. With quotes like, “Don’t do anything revenge-y until I get there.” and “I have PTSD—Padma Tyler Sexual Disorder.” (Padma and Tyler are two exes.) “I’m about a three on the Kinsey scale myself.” and “She keeps popping up like the homicidal stripper version of whack-a-mole” and “What? You guys went to revenge camp together?” Nolan keeps this TV melodrama from slipping all the way into General Hospital.
Another thing I love about this show is how it showcases women of all different ages. Madeleine Stowe is 56, and plays her age on the show. Amber Valletta who plays Lydia Davis is 40 and she too, plays right around her age in the show. There are beautiful younger women and beautiful young men, but there is also plenty of opportunities for actresses in their 30s, 40s and 50s to shine. The clothes are lovely—lots of sleeveless dresses cinched at the waist and the high heels! They are all going to keep podiatrists in business. The scenery is gorgeous—though the show really isn’t filmed in the Hamptons—they mix in shots from North Carolina and a few actual Hamptons’ beaches to give it a “no, we don’t shoot in California, not us” feel.
If plot holes and inconsistencies bother you (the white girl has a sensei? really?), this drama may not be for you. But if you loved soap operas as a kid, pop some popcorn and watch Emily and Victoria trade barbs, and Nolan redeem the whole series with his charm and wit.