By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
In some ways, Creator Mike Kelley’s removal as the showrunner of Revenge (it’s a “difficult mutual decision,” which usually means it wasn’t all that difficult for the network or the studio) is bigger news than the firing of Dan Harmon or any of the ten zillion showrunner firings at NBC. The closest comparison is the revolving-door producers at The Walking Dead, but at least there the reasons seem mostly budgetary. Revenge and Kelley, have had bigger problems this year. The show was not only a hit in its first season, it was a critical success and a zeitgeist success. No prime-time soap since the first season of The O.C. had had such an impact. But now it’s looking even weaker than The O.C. did in its middle years. It’s not impossible for a show to start big, burn out in its second year, and then stabilize enough to keep running: Glee will make it to season 6. But the bad publicity around Kelley’s departure, and the perception that the show has run out of ideas, could make it even harder for it to get back on track.
Kelley has seemingly chosen the right spin to put on this situation: reports suggest that he blamed the show’s problems on the need to do 22 episodes a season, and asked ABC to give him 13-episode orders instead. This is an argument that works, whether or not it’s true, because it’s an argument that a lot of people are making. Hannibal and The Following are two recent shows that only do Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, June 4, 2012 at 3:56 PM - 0 Comments
As the bubble bursts on daytime soap operas, the tide is turning on the nighttime versions
Daytime soap operas are dying, but they’re also being resurrected—at night. While daytime drama fans have been devastated by a series of high-profile cancellations, prime-time soaps, the ones that run once a week and deal with good-looking rich families exacting revenge on one another, are stronger than they’ve been in decades. On June 13, the U.S. and Canada will see a revival of the most popular prime-time soap of them all, Dallas. The ABC network, which recently cancelled the long-running One Life to Live and All My Children, is full of shows like the aptly named Revenge (in the Hamptons) and has announced a fall schedule that includes new shows Nashville (revenge in the music business) and 666 Park Avenue, described as the story of a posh building full of “wealth, sex, love, power, even revenge.”
People who grew up in the ’80s experienced an era when prime time was almost as soapy as daytime: thanks to Dallas, Dynasty and many spinoffs and imitators, most of the top dramas were soap operas. But the form lost steam when the public got tired of rich-people problems and storylines, like the season of Dallas that turned out to be a dream. Since then, except for shows aimed at teenagers (the revival of Beverly Hills 90210), plus the spoof soap Desperate Housewives, networks have avoided them and gone for shows where the characters try to help people instead of constantly plotting retribution.
Now the tide may be turning. With daytime soaps difficult to sustain for economic reasons—namely, not enough people watching during the day—prime-time storytelling has become a more sensible option. Christine Fix, editor-in-chief for Soaps.com, says viewers feel “nostalgic about prime-time TV in the 1980s and ’90s,” and that they “seem to be begging to see more of that now that we’ve lost so many daytime soap operas.” The continued popularity of telenovelas in Latin America, not to mention Coronation Street in the U.K., may have shown networks that people still watch this kind of programming in the evenings. Last year, La Reina Del Sur, a story of a young Mexican woman who fled to Spain where she becomes a major drug trafficker, was the most popular show in the history of the Spanish-language network Telemundo, and a U.S. studio has the rights to make an English-language adaptation.
By Elio Iannacci - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 10:32 AM - 0 Comments
The Girl Next Door star moves on to ‘Revenge’
At 25, Emily VanCamp already felt typecast as The Girl Next Door. After working non-stop in television for nine years, the upbeat blond Canadian actress was having nightmares about playing the good girl forever.
“I was pretty worried,” says the native of Port Perry, Ont. “The bulk of scripts I was getting were about being this same kind of shiny gal-pal or protagonist.”
Then she got Revenge.
“It wasn’t easy for Emily,” says Mike Kelley, who created the series for ABC. “Her role is part villain and part hero, so the network was very concerned she wouldn’t be able to pull the first part of the equation off because she was so loveable on Brothers & Sisters and Everwood. But then she came in and killed it.”
By Andrew Potter - Friday, July 29, 2011 at 12:49 PM - 51 Comments
A law professor hasn’t just excused Breivik’s actions, but actually endorsed them
Norway does not have capital punishment. In fact, the longest sentence you can receive there for murder is 21 years. According to an op-ed by published in yesterday’s New York Times by law professor Thane Rosenbaum, these facts render Norway “legally and morally” unprepared to deal with Anders Bleivik’s atrocity.
How so? He compares the situation in Norway to the public reaction to the acquittal of Casey Anthony, and notes how she is in hiding because of the risk of vigilante justice. He follows this with another American example: the case of Michael Woodmansee, who murdered a 5-year old in 1975 and is due to be released next month. Rosenbaum quotes the boy’s father, who apparently said “If this man [Woodmansee] is released anywhere in my vicinity, or if I can find him after the fact, I do intend to kill this man.”
This is where the piece takes a strange turn. Instead of denouncing these expressions or threats of vigilantism as utterly unacceptable in a civilized society, Rosenbaum writes:
Are these vengeful feelings morally appropriate? The answer is yes — because the actual difference between vengeance and justice is not as great as people think.
Such statements of unvarnished revenge make many uncomfortable. But how different is revenge from justice, really?
Rosenbaum’s piece perfectly captures the mood, as well as the style of reasoning, that has taken hold amongst the American right. Take a general truth, add a glaring non-sequitur, mix in some pidgin sociobiology, and – presto – you get the wonderfully reactionary conclusion that justice is just fancy vengeance, so what does it matter if the state does it or the victim?
Here’s the key passage:
Every legal system, however dispassionate and procedural, must still pass the gut test of seeming morally just; and revenge must always be just and proportionate. That is what the biblical phrase “eye for an eye” means. Justice requires that no less than an eye can be taken in retaliation for a lost eye, but no more than an eye either.
The general truth in this is that any social institution, to be stable, has to be compatible with fundamental and widely distributed human responses. But the next clause, “and revenge must always be just and proportionate” simply begs the question, by assuming what Rosenbaum is trying to prove, viz., that “proportionate revenge” is properly a part of justice. (The tacked-on reference to the bible plays no argumentative role here; its sole function is to set the pious a-nodding. It’s the right-wing law-prof equivalent of bringing a hypeman onstage).
So why does Rosenbaum think he can simply assert the equivalence of justice and revenge? Bring on the sociobiology:
Despite the stigma of vengeance, it’s as natural to the human species as love and sex. In art and culture, everyone roots for the avenger, and audiences will settle for nothing less than a proper payback — whether it comes from Hamlet, or from the emotionally wounded avengers in “Gladiator,” “Braveheart” or “Unforgiven.” Recent studies in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology have claimed that human beings are hard-wired for vengeance.
This bit is exactly why people freak out about sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. The “it’s as natural to the human species” is clearly intended as approbation; that is, as carrying normative weight. But here’s an exercise: substitute “rape” for “vengeance”, and “men” for “humans,” in that paragraph and see how it scans. The problem with it, I trust, becomes apparent.
As he heads for home, Rosenbaum stops even trying to soft-pedal his agenda: “Legal systems should punish the guilty commensurate with their crimes and recognize a moral duty to satisfy the needs of victims to feel avenged.” And then: “Neither justice nor revenge is negotiable.”
These are remarkable things for a professor of law to write. Far from being aspects of the same instinct, the difference between revenge and justice is as fundamental as the difference between a tort and a crime, and the move from revenge to justice marks the step from tribalism to the state or – if you prefer – from barbarism to civilization. Despite what Rosenbaum seems to think, the desire for vengeance is a bug, not a feature, of human motivation.
The central difficulty with it is buried in Rosenbaum’s own argument – the need for the victim to feel avenged. The problem is that if I wrong you and you seek revenge, it is very unlikely that I will think that your retaliation is proportionate and “just”. More than likely, I’ll see your retaliation as a further wrong that needs a response from me, and so on. This is a very common cycle in human interactions; it’s called a feud, and they can last for generations and encompass entire families and tribes. The crucial step into civilization was taking the right to retaliation out of private hands and putting an end to the cycle of feuds.
Rosenbaum seems to think that the public system of criminal justice is nothing more than the state serving as a referee between private (and negotiable) desires for revenge. It isn’t. It is aimed at upholding the public system of non-negotiable rights. There is a great deal of confusion on this score, partly because of how television drama treats criminal cases (with all the talk about victims “pressing charges”, which they don’t do IRL), partly because the growing fetish for victim impact statements is obscuring the tort/crime distinction. But that should be seen for what it is – a decline into barbarism, not a fulfillment of the demands of justice.
The upshot is this: Despite what Rosenbaum seems to be arguing, victims of crimes do not have the right to feel avenged. To have it so would be to privilege private interests and reasons over those of the public, and is quite literally a counsel of barbarism.
If you don’t agree, think of it this way: Claiming that the public standard of reasonableness is unsatisfactory to the demands of justice is exactly what what Anders Breivik used to justify his actions. Whatever else he is, Breivik saw himself as a vigilante upholding a private theory of justice in the face of a failure of the state to provide satisfaction. Whether he realizes or not, Thane Rosenbaum has written a piece that doesn’t just excuse Breivik’s actions, but actually endorses them.
By Cathy Gulli - Monday, July 6, 2009 at 2:54 PM - 9 Comments
Some creative ways for betrayed wives to hit an ex where it hurts
The makers of superglue could never have imagined these creative uses by scorned women seeking revenge on cheating exes: spread around the rim of a toilet seat, the king’s throne becomes a more permanent resting spot. Rubbed over a thermostat turned on full blast, it really gets him feeling hot and bothered. And a delicately applied glaze affixes a sleeping man’s prized possession to those legs that led him to the mistress’s lair.
Such scenarios are copious in a new book provocatively titled The Down and Dirty Dish on Revenge: Serving It Up Nice and Cold to That Lying, Cheating Bastard by Eva Nagorski. She got the idea after being hired by an ad agency for a viral marketing campaign to promote a Court TV show called Parco, PI. It had her blogging as a fictional wife with a straying husband. “It hit me how much revenge touches everyone’s life somehow,” she says. “People get hurt and they want payback.” Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 7:58 PM - 0 Comments
While exiled in Siberia in 1915, the Bolsheviks — including Stalin, Spanderian, and Kamenev…
While exiled in Siberia in 1915, the Bolsheviks — including Stalin, Spanderian, and Kamenev — enjoyed a fairly blissful summer reunion. At a boozy supper, Kamenev asked everyone to
“declare their greatest pleasure in life. Some cited women, others earnestly replied that it was the progress of dialectical materialism toward the workers’ paradise. Then Stalin answered: ‘My greatest pleasure is to choose one’s victim, prepare one’s plans minutely, slake an implacable vengeance, and then go to bed. There’s nothing sweeter in the world.”
S.S.Montefiore, Young Stalin