My Advice to ABC’s ‘Revenge’: Quit While You’re Ahead

Last night’s Revenge brought us yet more twists and turns in ABC’s monumentally and fantastically soapy drama — don’t worry, I won’t tell you what happened — leading me to wonder when they’re going to be ready to throw in the towel on this one. Jack may not be ready to move on, but some of us are starting to get a little frustrated with the ongoing tension. You know what I’m sayin’?

Don’t get me wrong: I am a huge fan of Revenge and I eagerly dissect it in my email with friends each morning after a new episode, but it’s starting to wander big time, and that’s because, like all good drama, it has an expiration date. The question is whether the production team and ABC are going to recognize that, or if they’re going to draw this painfully out in an effort to milk every possible drop of ratings out of it.

So far, Revenge is going pretty strong ratings-wise, and ABC’s renewed it for fall in a pretty plum spot on Sunday nights, allowing it to replace Desperate Housewives and pairing it with the unexpectedly popular Once Upon A Time. (Sorry if this is controversial, but I really can’t get into Once Upon A Time, you guys.) It’s obviously immensely successful because it speaks to the deep desire in all of us to tear out the hearts of our enemies and eat them for breakfast with a little raspberry jam. Er, maybe that’s just me.

I think I’m supposed to say that Revenge is all about love and passion and emotion and how these things drive us to do weird and horrible things to each other, but I’m pretty pragmatic so I really just watch the show for the revenge and the plotting. Because I do love me some revenge, and Emily’s cool, calculating scheme is interesting to watch as it unfolds (and collapses, as the case may be). It’s sort of like seeing vultures swirling around and taking leisurely pecks now and then rather than just getting down and getting to it. Yes, I just compared Emily Thorne to a vulture.


So, the thing is, this show is ostensibly based on The Count of Monte Cristo, which is also deliciously soapy, I will freely admit, but does actually have a clearly defined endpoint as well as a steadily moving plot that is designed to pull things together in the end and keep you reading. It was, after all, a serial, which meant Dumas needed to come up with reasons to keep people reading when the next installment came out. And I’m starting to feel like Revenge is losing its focus, which in turn is making me lose my focus. And that’s a bad thing, people.

Every week there’s a new attempt to flip the narrative right on its head, which is the point of soapy drama, but the stacking of incidents on top of each other makes it increasingly more baroque and harder to track. The cast of characters is growing and I’m reminded of the too many cooks problem; how many people can we add to this kitchen before it gets totally out of control? Because we seem to be rapidly getting there. There are only so many double crossings, backstabbings, and new players viewers can follow and stay invested in the show. If my Twitter feed last night was any indicator, some viewers are starting to reach saturation point.

Revenge is finding itself in the same place Lost was as it shed fans in later seasons. It’s getting so damn complicated that if you haven’t been watching from the start and focusing on each episode, you’re going to get lost (ha ha). This is not the kind of show you can randomly pick up and still follow and enjoy. As the storyline gets more absurd, we start to wonder if there’s any kind of point here; is there anyone on deck up there keeping us on course, or are we actually just adrift in the Sea of Abandoned Plots, waiting for rescue?

So here’s my advice to Revenge: Quit while you’re ahead. Know your end date. Tighten up your storylines. Map this out and take us on a fun ride to the end. I want to see you go out with a decisive bang when it’s time, not dwindle and fade away into nothing. Maybe you’ve got another season or two in you, but sit down and have a serious think about how you want those seasons to go and make them explosive, driven, and fast-paced.

Because I love this show and I love these characters. Wow do I love these characters. There are so many women doing exciting and sneaky and amazing things on Revenge and I especially adore watching Thorne’s character development as she gets deeper and deeper into this hole she’s digging for herself. And I’m totally in love with Nolan as a character; he’s a man who just gets more fascinating by the minute and I like that the rich playboy has turned into Emily’s ally and the closest thing she has to a real friend over time, but he’s got his own stuff going on too. Though stuffed shirt Daniel kind of bores me, the rest of the Graysons are fascinating. Particularly Victoria, which woah, what is that girl up to half the time?! I don’t even know.


And yes, I like the machinations and twists and turns. Revenge is a labyrinth of delights, but it’s also a house of cards, and it’s getting a bit wobbly ‘round the base. Keep me hooked ’til the bitter end, Revenge. I’m begging you.

What do you think about Revenge’s prospects, gang? Talk to me!