Complex TV


p. 10-11: Revenge

In 2011, one of the year’s most popular new network programs, Revenge, opened its pilot with a party scene that climaxes with a murder. It then flashed back five months to chart how the narrative arrived at this climactic point, a major event that would only be reached in the season’s 15th episode, with the rest of the pilot incorporating voice-over narration and multiple flashbacks to various time frames. What was most remarkable about this pilot was how unremarkable it was—critics and fans found this style of complex storytelling commonplace and undistinguished, generally classifying the series as a decent “prime time soap” or belittling it as a “guilty pleasure.” … Narrative complexity has suffused television to the degree that Revenge’s temporally fractured narrative technique can go unnoticed; the rest of this book aims to explain how and why.

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