ABC’s new hit show, Revenge, has quickly become one of this year’s breakout shows, combining the perfect blend of secrets, romance, and vengeance into every episode. But no diabolical plot would be complete without a maniacal villain to hate – enter Victoria Grayson (aka Queen Victoria) played by the lovely and oh-so talented Madeleine Stowe. There’s nothing sweeter than revenge and Stowe manages to run the gamut in badassery, ultimately searing a special place in our hearts whether we like it or not.
And while some may think that playing the role of the antagonist is relatively easy, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, think about it; you have to be evil enough to create havoc for the heroine, but likable enough so that fans still want you around. If you’re too hateful, they’ll just want you to be killed off, so they don’t have to deal with your aggravating antics anymore. And in some cases, it could even turn people off to the show entirely, but Stowe does a fantastic job of creating a character that we love to hate. She may be the most manipulative, controlling wife/mother/neighbor in the Hamptons, but she’s just so good at it. We can’t help but be enthralled by her. And being the television enthusiast that I am, I’ve come to appreciate even the smallest things an actor or actress brings to his or her character. For example, it’s not just the words a character says…it’s how they say them, which is something Stowe seems to be flawless at. Anyone can wear a smile or frown to portray a certain mood to the audience, but they’d have a hard time matching up to Stowe’s unyielding conviction. Think about the things that make Victoria great: her emotionally crippling one-liners, her bone-chilling death stares, the ability to make even the most fainest whisper feel like a deadly threat. I mean, who could forget the time Stowe’s character icily embraces her frenemy Lydia and whispers: “Every time I hug you, the warmth you feel is my hatred burning through.” Now that’s good television.
But what ultimately defines Stowe’s character is the fact that deep down she’s not completely heartless. Despite the double-cross she played on Emily’s father, she really did love him and didn’t take pleasure in hurting him or his daughter. Mind you, she still did it, so we still want to see her face consequences, but it shows that there’s more to her than meets the eye. There are villains who do the wrong thing out of necessity and those who do it for the thrill of it all. Stowe’s character belongs to the former, which makes her not only intriguing, but, in a way, relatable. Now don’t get me wrong, she’s definitely a heinous woman who deserves what’s coming to her (if Emily has her way), but I thoroughly enjoy trying to decipher her complex nature and figure out what happened to make her the insufferable woman she is today. Sure the writers came up with the brilliant content for the character’s back story, but it’s to Stowe’s credit for bringing so much depth and emotional layers to the role — a task at which many villains before her have failed.
Whether you love her or hate her (or just love to hate her), Stowe has gradually made her character an essential part of the show and in truth, it wouldn’t be the same without her. A show’s success is only as strong as its characters and Victoria has become the foundation, ultimately morphing into the most watchable villain on TV right now. Surely that in itself is worthy of some recognition…preferably in the form of a Golden Globe.