ABC's 'Revenge' Star: 'The Average American is Going to Want to See a Takedown of the Rich'

The contemporary reimagining of "The Count of Monte Cristo" will "satisfy viewers," says its creator.
Jim Bridges/ABC

After a long day focused on themes of female empowerment and the modern-day man, ABC wrapped up its Sunday sessions before the Television Critics Association with a genre it does best: the primetime soap.

Revenge, which ABC entertainment Group Paul Lee called one of “our internal favorites” earlier in the day, is billed as a contemporary reimagining of The Count of Monte Cristo. The drama centers on a mysterious young woman, played by Emily VanCamp, who is welcomed into a rich Hamptons community filled with people who don't know she's there to exact revenge on the people who had destroyed her family.

“We’re dealing in a particular time right now in American history where I think the average American is going to want to see a takedown of the rich,” says star Madeleine Stowe.

Added creator/executive producer Mike Kelley, “Revenge is such a great story engine. It’s really a jumping off point.”

The series, which will use pieces of the book as "sign-posts," began with executive producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, who were interested in telling a Hamptons-set story of haves and have-nots. When ABC brass suggested they layer in a story engine, Bowen decided to pull from Monte Cristo as inspiration. The decision to do so from a female point of view lead to the hiring of Kelley, whose credits include One Tree Hill and The O.C.

“It feels great to be so firmly on brand at ABC,” said Kelley, acknowledging that that wasn’t the case on some of his past projects, likely referencing his time on CBS’ short-lived Swingtown.

In an era of limited attention spans and infinite options, he was quick to dispell any concerns of lingering story lines. Instead, Kelley said he plans to answer all of the questions that he sets up in the pilot during the show's first 13 episodes.

“I want to satisfy viewers,” he said, noting that ultimately there will only be one way to wrap up a series about revenge. "It will be Emily and Victoria with a sea of bodies between them and they’ll have to forgive. That’s the only way out of this series."

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