Can Emily VanCamp take your order? Because "Revenge" has been… (Colleen Hayes / ABC TV )
ABC's"Revenge"has generated critical and fan support thanks to a healthy mix of soap opera camp and cold, calculated treachery. But there's another ingredient that bowls us over: the serious partying these people do.
Party coverage is a staple here at the Ministry, and we're impressed with the social calendar this Hamptons-set potboiler maintains. Need some proof?
Since its January return, the show has zeroed in on Emily VanCamp's lead character Emily Thorne and her taking down of the powerful Grayson family -- led by icy matriarch Victoria (Madeleine Stowe). But overall, it's been a busy season in the Hamptons.
In the first half of the season, a yacht-load of exposition went down from the show's Memorial Day kickoff to Labor Day's uber-dramatic summer closer. Over the first 10 episodes we count 13 significant, formal or semi-formal events requiring an RSVP. Shall we waltz through?
Galas: This show lives for black tie from the start, when Victoria Grayson throws the lavish Fire and Ice Ball, a theme bash taking a decent chunk of her sandy compound to celebrate the engagement of her son Daniel (Josh Bowman) and Ms. Thorne. A few episodes and a jitney ride later, the Graysons and company head to Manhattan for the Open Arms charity gala, one that supports families affected by a horrible plane crash that the Graysons themselves caused. We'd guess that wasn't in the printed program.
Fundraisers: It takes money to make money, and Victoria is very fond of fundraising. Like helping U.S. Sen. Tom Kingsley with a backyard dinner party for potential contributors to his next campaign. That doesn't go so well, but neither does the Memorial Day yacht party we see chaired by (who else?) Victoria, as she uses an art auction and a pricey Van Gogh painting to oust her husband's mistress Lydia Davis (Amber Valetta). At least donations are a tax write-off?
Holidays: The summer triumvirate is represented in the aforementioned Memorial Day yacht party, the Fire and Ice ball that dominates Labor Day weekend and the rager the Graysons threw in between to mark the Fourth of July. Attire was summer chic, and while dinner was buffet-style, back-stabbing, collusion and even money laundering were plated up hot.
Tea Party: You heard us. This series is so deep in schmoozing that it necessitates a tea party, thrown in support of mental health (seriously?) with hosts Victoria Grayson and daughter Charlotte (Christa B. Allen). Crustless sandwiches are served but, thanks to VanCamp's Emily, guests feast on the secretly recorded therapy sessions of Hamptons housewives projected throughout the fete.
Business Drunk: In case you're concerned it's all ladies lunching, Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny) throws a booze-soaked employee volleyball tournament on the beach, followed by a martini-laden new investors cocktail party at his home.
Family affiar: In addition to these over-the-top occasions, we need to give shout-outs to elaborate functions like Daniel's birthday clam bake (held up at gun point), the Graysons' 25th wedding anniversary dinner (ends in separation), the dinner party to welcome home Grandpa Grayson (played by William Devane, and ends in a Maury Povich-style paternity reveal).
Final count: Thirteen formal or semi-formal affairs in 10 episodes. And a flashback to aNew Year's Eve bash in 2002 that appeared in several episodes.
Now imagine that dry cleaning bill. Props to "Revenge's" fictional party planner Ashley Davenport (Ashley Madekwe) and the tech billionaire Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann), who scored invites to basically all of these events.
And if you twisted our arm for advice on next season? The cost of so much hospitality could be cut by encouraging "Revenge's" local businesses to be less insane. Seriously. Local hotel Southfork Inn is rampant with adultery, and the staff poisons the soup. A local Italian steakhouse has waitstaff that will take a golf club to your Lamborghini.
And don't get us started on local watering hole the Stowaway, which enables underage drinking, breaking and entering, roofie-administering, heart attacks, prescription drug abuse, self-mutilation and zero personality in the decor.
Until September, Revenge-ers.
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Follow Matt Donnelly on Twitter @mattdonnelly.