(The ten best dramas of 2012 will be revealed on Hulu’s homepage each weekday of this week. To view the rest of the list, click here.)
9 – Revenge
Revenge captured the zeitgeist perfectly when it launched in 2011. Against the backdrop of Occupy Wall Street, Amanda Clarke (Emily VanCamp), cloaking herself in the nom de guerre Emily Thorne, took down the 1% one by one, exploiting her enemies’ follies to bring about their demise. While the show started out as a bit of a revenge procedural, with Emily plotting to destroy the people who framed her father for treason, one bank account at a time, it’s grown into so much more. As we’ve come to know Emily over the past year, we’ve watched her evolve from a finely tuned revenge robot, coldly executing her schemes, into a deeply vulnerable woman who has pretended to be someone else for so long that she’s struggling to discover what’s left of herself.
The show has grown. Emily has grown vulnerable with it.
I’ll concede that Season 2 hasn’t been as consistent as its first. The more time we spend with the Porters, Emily’s childhood crush included, the more it’s apparent they’ve outlived their usefulness to the story. Nolan, a fan favorite and Emily’s confidante, hasn’t been front and center as much as he should have been. Padma, Nolan’s new love interest, is beyond boring. But despite these missteps, the show is easily still one of the best written and most entertaining dramas on television. And if you disagree, I encourage you to contrast the Emily we knew last year with the Amanda Aiden, her new love interest and partner in revenge, has drawn out this year. When she’s with Aiden, Emily is slowly re-discovering the Amanda she left behind all of those years ago.
Madeleine Stowe’s tragic villain Victoria Grayson may have been the show’s secret weapon in Season 1, but Emily VanCamp has become the one to watch this year. Now we just have to wait until January to summer in the Hamptons.—Andrea Marker