The 1980s had Dallas and the '90s had Melrose Place. Today's viewing audiences have Revenge, possibly the sweetest evening soap opera of primetime. Revenge is a show filled with lies, manipulative characters and enough backstory to spawn a prequel if the creators so desired. It takes the traditional soap opera themes of greed, lust and, yes, revenge, to another level. They're intelligently twisted to give audiences a weekly escape into a world where no one is as they seem.
In the beginning
Revenge premiered Sept. 21, 2001, on ABC, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMBD). The series begins with Amanda Clarke's return to Southampton and the beach home she once occupied with her father, David, a man framed for a crime he did not commit. However, Amanda has assumed the name Emily Thorne (portrayed by Emily VanCamp), and she is out for revenge against the people who framed her father and caused his imprisonment and subsequent death. For 17 years, Amanda/Emily has been consumed with anger and hate for the Graysons, the family responsible for her father's incarceration. She has meticulously plotted a twisted, complicated web of revenge against the Graysons and the others David Clarke once trusted.
The plot thickens
Like any good nighttime soap opera, simple revenge is not enough. Revenge tantalizes viewers with plot lines including greed, love, lust, infidelity and murder. Everyone is connected to each other, even if they don't know where all the connections meet. At the center of everything is Emily, the new face of Amanda Clarke. She is the spider, spinning a web of deception. However, Emily is not the only one with deep, dark secrets. Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), matriarch of the Grayson family, has just as many secrets as Emily, and each is tied to David Clarke and his little girl.
Revenge features multiple characters, although not as many as a traditional daytime soap opera. Viewers don't need a scorecard to keep track of most characters, especially since there have been multiple scenes where the main characters are gathered together for various affairs. Each main character has at least one personality trait that is exaggerated. From Emily, who is hyper-focused on her personal revenge plot, to Victoria, who is the ultimate conniving socialite, each character can appear over the top and even a bit crazy.
More characters equal more plot twists
The Grayson family also includes the adulterous Henry Grayson (Henry Czerny), Victoria's husband, and Daniel Grayson (Joshua Bowman), their son and Emily's love interest. Daniel has his own past, including a scandalous affair that did not end well. His younger sister, Charlotte Grayson (Christa B. Allen), is a privileged teen whose parentage comes into question. Other characters include Nolan (Gabriel Mann), Emily's ally, and Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler), someone from Emily's past. Declan Porter (Connor Paolo) is Jack's younger brother, who is involved with Charlotte Grayson. Ashley Davenport (Ashley Madekwe), a party planner, is a friend to Emily, an assistant to Victoria and someone who wants more than anything to claw her way to the top of the Southampton social tower. Ashton Holmes plays Tyler Barrol, a character with multiple issues, including uncontrollable rage.
Revenge offers its audience a rollercoaster of a ride each week with emotional scenes and intricate plot lines. The set and costumes are lavish and befitting the Southampton society in which the characters exist. The first season leaves viewers with plenty of unanswered questions, perfect for drawing everyone back to indulge in more revenge during next season.