How Far Would You Go to Get Revenge?Steven Folkins

I can’t imagine one would be unfamiliar with the show Revenge, but here’s a quick synopsis and recap (some mild spoilers may be included so beware): The series is inspired by the novel The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas. Dumas’ story revolves around Edmond Dantès, a merchant sailor who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune and then plans revenge on those people responsible for his imprisonment. The guilty parties, as well as some innocent, get caught up in his wake of revenge.

Now, imagine Edmond Dantes is Emily Thorne (played by Emily Van Camp), a wealthy socialite who has dedicated her life to charity and REVENGE! Emily has a secret identity – or rather, her actual identity is Amanda Clarke, the daughter of David Clarke, a man who was wrongfully convicted of terrorism and then murdered in prison. Emily plans to exact revenge on the people responsible for her father’s conviction and death. She heads to The Hamptons to exact this revenge with Victoria Grayson (the icy Madeleine Stowe) at the top of her list. The Graysons are at the center of her revenge plot. The first season ends with the Grayson’s empire slowly collapsing, Emily calling off her engagement to Daniel Grayson, Victoria Grayson possibly dead in a plane crash, Charlotte Grayson overdoses and Nolan reveals to Emily that Conrad tried to destroy some secret evidence and that the death of her father is so much more than the Graysons and that many others played a role in this false accusation. This last part is what allows the show to go on longer, of course, because how long can Emily Thorne go on revenging just one family? The second season picks up a little bit after the first season ends and Emily is back to her revenging ways and continues to leave a wake of destruction.

How far would you go to get revenge? I asked myself that question as I began writing. I know that Revenge is a television drama – an awesomely campy, self-aware drama that borders on comedy – but I can’t be the only person to imagine myself in Emily Thorne’s Manolo Blahniks.

I relistened to a podcast from The Moth recently while riding the bus to work – the story being told was by Ernesto Quiñonez and titled “Ernesto Quiñonez: Spanish Harlem, 7th Grade”. The story basically set up the conflict between the storyteller, Ernesto, while he was in 7th grade in Spanish Harlem, and a ninth grade Bully named Mario. Mario would pick on different kids each day until one day it was Ernesto’s turn to get water poured down his back. This happened to him twice. Ernesto decided he would get even with Mario in the only way he thought would really destroy him: by mailing gay porn and dildos to his house. It was known to everyone in their neighborhood that mothers were the one to open all the mail that came to the house and Mario’s mother would be the one to find this package addressed to Mario full of gay porn. When Mario didn’t show up to school for a few days, he discovered that his father had beat him so badly he was in the hospital. When Mario returned to school, he was no longer bullying people and was now stigmatized by the rumor that he was “G” or gay. Ernesto never apologized at the time of the incident, but after telling this story, he did.

When I was in high school, I was picked on almost daily. I developed my sarcastic and dry sense of humor to battle that, but teenagers are awful and it didn’t stop until I graduated. I was mostly called gay and fag, ’cause in an all boys high school, there is nothing more hurtful. I think this daily torture for almost four years may have played part in my later coming out (among other things I know about). Anyway, it was mostly just two kids that would pick on me; of course there was group mentality, a “better that it’s not me” kind of attitude. I plotted my revenge. I thought to myself one day that the only way I could get them to stop picking on me would be to make sure everyone knew that they were themselves in fact gay. I would find gay porn magazines and bring them to school to stick in their lockers so when they opened them, it would all fall on the ground – simultaneously outing them. I never did it. I often regret not doing it, even as I type this, no matter how awful the outcome would have been.

I’m no Emily Thorne and I don’t have a staff of writers plotting out my juicy revenge fantasies on my high school tormentors. I am a writer, though, and feel like I have the ability to get revenge in the best way: by being myself, by being happy with what I do with my life, by writing about my experiences, and knowing that I can continue to ‘Do Me 100’ knowing that.

Get Revenge’d when it airs Sundays on ABC at 10:00pm.

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  1. If someone hurts my family the way they hurt Emily’s dad, I would do anything to get revenge. I wouold even go as far as death. I hope I don’t scare you now. Haha. Stay away from my family! ;)

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