When I first started watching "Revenge" back in September, I thought I was going to have to sweep my viewing habits under the rug and treat it as a very guilty pleasure (similar to how I feel about "The Bachelor"). I was certain that the soap-opera set-up and absurdly rich characters would ensure that the show was terrible; something that I'd watch on my laptop at a volume low enough that even my roommate couldn't hear. But seven months and 16 episodes later I'm an out-and-proud "Revenge" fan -- and so are a whole lot of other women.
For those of you that don't watch the show, the set-up is pretty basic. A rich girl named Emily Thorne comes to the Hamptons, rents a beautiful beach house and proceeds to integrate herself into the elaborate social scene. What the viewers know, but the majority of the characters do not, is that Ms. Thorne is in town to exact revenge on the people who wronged her father years before -- which turns out to be pretty much everyone. (If you want the details on all of the complicated relationships, check out HuffPost TV's infographic web of "Revenge" connections.)
I first realized that I wasn't alone in loving "that new show featuring the girl from 'Everwood,' the guy from 'Gossip Girl' and that other guy from 'Roswell'" (other confession: I was a big fan of the WB growing up), in line at Trader Joe's. I heard the woman in front of me mention her plans to go home and watch to the cashier. I couldn't help myself and I joined in the conversation, which turned into an epic "Revenge" love-fest. (I can only assume that the other grocery-buying patrons were less than pleased.) When Jezebel's Dodai Stewart penned an essay entitled "Of All The New Ladycentric Programming, 'Revenge' Is The Best" in January, my viewing habits were 100 percent affirmed.
So in celebration of the return of "Revenge" after a six-week long hiatus, here are three reasons that I can't get enough of this melodramatic gem of a television show:
1. It doesn't take itself too seriously.
"Revenge" is a nighttime soap opera. It features sultry, oh-so-serious voice overs from anti-hero Emily Thorne at the beginning and end of each episode, takes place in The Hamptons and is built around ... wait for it ... a REVENGE plot. But the show knows exactly what it is, and instead of trying to be hip and new and innovative, it embraces its melodrama genre -- and does a damn good job. Sometimes I watch TV to see myself represented on-screen (which is probably why I'm cheering so hard for the success of Lena Dunham's "Girls"), but sometimes I just want a little escapism. "Revenge" provides that in droves -- bring on the billionaires, giant beach houses, cocktail parties and townies, and add a dash of murder to boot.
2. NOLAN ROSS.
Nolan is Emily's one semi-ally and most definitely the best character on the show. As a woman who once took a few Sociology of Gender courses in college, hearing Nolan explain that he's "about a three on the Kinsey Scale" won me over once and for all.
3. Women are the key power players of "Revenge."
There are a whole lot of men in the "Revenge" version of the Hamptons, but they consistently play second fiddle to the women, who really hold all of the cards. Emily's main love interest, Daniel Grayson, is head over heels in love with her and asks her to marry him -- all while she's waging a secret war against his family. Daniel is a good person and a character that the audience grows to care about, but while in other shows, the rich, successful business school grad would be in control of the storyline, young Grayson is more of a pawn.
Daniel's mother, Victoria Grayson, is the other woman to watch. She rules the social scene of the Hamptons with an iron fist, stopping at nothing to take down those who threaten her position. But to the "Revenge" writers' credit, Victoria is a (somewhat) complex antagonist. Even in her more awful moments, her character is compelling -- which is probably why Madeleine Stowe was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance. The women of "Revenge" might not be realistic or groundbreaking, but they're pretty badass.
Do you watch "Revenge"? What are your favorite no-longer-guilty-pleasure TV shows?
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