Anthony D’Alessandro is managing editor and contributor to AwardsLine.
At the onset of the 2011-12 season, Mad Men knockoffs Pan Am and The Playboy Club were primed to be the masters of the broadcast drama universe but ABC’s Revenge stole their thunder. The series created by Mike Kelley kicked off with an electric set-up (a dead body on the beach during an engagement soiree), irresistible twists and a string of sexy, complex characters that rivaled the dramatis personae of any premium cable show. Revenge plays like a bastard relative of an F. Scott Fitzgerald story in its deconstruction of Long Island high society, swapping The Great Gatsby’s North Shore of the 1920s for the Hamptons of today. (“I have never visited The Hamptons, but I’ve definitely visited nighttime drama,” Kelley quips.) World Series fixers of the Jazz Age are replaced with the millennium’s one percent who’ve unscrupulously licked the recession. Instead of a lovelorn Jay Gatsby we have a vindictive Amanda Clarke in Revenge, a juvenile delinquent turned socialite under the alias Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp). Her m.o.: Decimate the Grayson family, the folks who took her father’s life, in particular her dad’s ex-Queen Bee mistress Victoria Grayson (played with campy gusto by Madeleine Stowe). Close to 9 million on average last season tuned in for Revenge, making it ABC’s most watched 10 PM show in four years, since Lost in 2006-07. Awardsline’s Anthony D’Alesandro spoke with Kelley.
HOW REVENGE CAME TOGETHER: After Swingtown [on CBS], which was a personal story about my wonder years through my parents’ bedrooms (during the 1970s) and [CW’s] The Beautiful Life: TBL, which I did per my contract at CBS and which died a merciful quick death, I wanted to hook up with a network that was a better fit for my sensibilities. … Paul Lee, who just came in as president [of ABC Entertainment], was interested in doing something based on The Count Of Monte Cristo. At the same time [production company] Temple Hill wanted to do a show that took place in the Hamptons. I loved The Count of Monte Cristo, but there was no way one could do a show like that in linear fashion. So my take