It’s kind of a well known fact that, all considered, I don’t watch TV at all.
My mother’s TV set hasn’t been turned on since maybe 2013 tops. My own, I chucked in 2012 and never looked back. Really, at the end of the day, it was a useless piece of electronica that took over a lot of surface room. Last time I watched it, I think it was the election coverage.
But I am a Netflix member, and not long ago, I surfaced from a TV show that honestly surprised me with the writing quality alone: Revenge.
You may or may not have caught it on ABC network. The premise is that Emily Thorne arrives to the Hamptons and basically proceeds to wreak havoc on the lives of her next-door neighbors, the Graysons, as payback for what they have done to her and her father. Emily VanCamp does a stellar job as Emily Thorne, matched equally by Madeleine Stowe as Victoria Grayson.
Acting quality aside, I really, truly have to commend whoever conceived the series. Even right now, as I’m re-watching it – hey, when something’s good… – I am taking more and more in as to how relatable both sides of the divide are, and that right there is good writing. Really, the best there is. You have to love it when you can even relate to the antagonist and wonder whether or not Emily Thorne’s quest for vengeance and vindication is hitting the right target. But then Emily Thorne’s history surfaces and you want nothing more than for Victoria Grayson’s life to fall apart.
What got to me about the series is that Victoria is the kind of an antagonist you really cannot hate. She has her own history that slowly surfaces throughout the series, a fierce love for her children, and carries a lot of guilt for the sins of her and her husband Conrad’s past. At the same time, she inflicts a lot of damage on the very people she’s trying to protect, all in the name of keeping herself – and them – safe.
It raises a lot of questions that, honestly, struck me as those very similar to those I’ve been trying to raise with my writing. Emily Thorne opens each episode with a quote or a philosophical statement about revenge, perseverance, faith, grace, secrets… one part philosophy and three parts manta. As she and Victoria Grayson battle it out, with their own shares of collateral damage in the process, you see very clearly just how each episode applies to the earlier quote.
It’s not an original concept in terms of structuring to a particular philosophy, but I definitely see the way it works. You may’ve noticed that in my stories and the chapter titles: Damage Control. Side Tilts. Odd Choices. You get somewhat of a hint as to how it applies. Stieg Larsson did the same thing with the Millennium Trilogy; opening each chapter with a statistic or a historic fact (i.e. statements on female warriors in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest or stats on domestic violence in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). But oh, how effective to see it done visually! Really. The entire episode is a perfect match to each quote.
Honestly, I recommend the series. Not conventional at all. The fourth season kind of slides off the rails a little bit, but the story has a very satisfying conclusion. And not for nothing, but few things are funnier than Gabriel Mann as Nolan Ross.