On ABC’s Revenge, the story is uprooted from the Second Empire in France to the modern-day Hamptons. The heroine is Amanda Clarke turned Emily Thorne, who seeks revenge on her old neighbors after her father was wrongly convicted of a terrorist plot, leading to her placement in foster care and, ultimately, juvenile detention. When she turns 18, Amanda learns her father made a few well-placed investments and inherits unimaginable wealth. And—like Dantes becoming the Count of Monte Cristo—she morphs into Emily Thorne, returns to the Hamptons, and strategically destroys the people who did her wrong.
Understandably, when telling a story in a different historical moment, and changing the genders of the protagonists and villains, and removing any of the original political context, you end up with something quite different. What endures, though, is the connection between wealth and villainy.
We have an endless fascination with tales of women and revenge, from cheating husbands forced to grovel in public to a little well-executed arson in an evil ex's home. But while schadenfreude makes for fun reading, does the media's rush to cover stories of public payback help perpetuate stereotypes of women as victims and men as wrongdoers? Or is revenge just really that sweet?