A modern retelling of Alexander Dumas’ classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo, the hit ABC television show Revenge has captivated millions with its tale of conspiracy, family secrets, and vengeance. Nominated for multiple awards such as the People’s Choice Awards and the Golden Globes, this series has built a large fan base and a dedicated following thanks to its masterful storytelling and production.
At the helm of Revenge from the premiere of its third season in 2013 to its finale in 2015, the writing and production team of Berg and Harberts guided the show’s storyline to its thrilling conclusion. But how exactly did Berg and Harberts gain their expert narrative skills and become the production powerhouses they are today – and how have their careers been shaped by Revenge?
The Story of Berg and Harberts
Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, the dynamic duo of Berg and Harberts met when they were undergraduates at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Situated right outside of Chicago, Berg and Harberts gained invaluable skills in television writing and production through Northwestern’s Creative Writing for the Media program, honing skills in writing for movies, television, and the stage. However, their passion for television didn’t begin at Northwestern.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gretchen Berg grew up dreaming of stories while playing in the woods with her friends. She dabbled in poetry and theater in high school, describing herself as a loner amidst a sports-focused student body. Berg found a creative outlet in her school’s TV studio, where she was able to turn her daydreams into reality. She chose to attend Northwestern to obtain a well-rounded education, and it was there that she met Aaron Harberts, a P.A. on her student film project.
Harberts entered Northwestern in 1991, when Berg was a junior. An openly gay man who grew up in a religious family, Harberts was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and split his childhood between Iowa, South Florida, and Indiana. During his father’s sermons, Harberts would daydream fantastical stories, much like Berg had in the woods. At Northwestern, Berg and Harberts were colleagues, but not particularly close until Harberts moved to Los Angeles in 1995.
Having lost his housing, Harberts moved in with Berg, who had moved to Los Angeles after her graduation from Northwestern in 1993. There, Berg and Harberts grew closer, sharing work and eventually writing their first scripts together. It took tenacity, hard work, odd jobs, and cheap tacos, but in 1998 the hit TV show Beverly Hills, 90210 hired them as staff writers.
Rise to Revenge
After writing several episodes for 90210’s final two seasons, the cult classic science fiction series, Roswell,offered Berg and Harberts production roles. After the series ended in 2002, Berg and Harberts went on to work on the television series Wonderfalls, where they met elite television producer Bryan Fuller. Enamored of their writing and production talent, Fuller offered Berg and Harberts executive producer positions on his hit television show Pushing Daisies.
Berg and Harberts worked on Pushing Daisies from 2008 to 2009. Between Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies, they also filled several writing and production roles on shows such as Women’s Murder Club. They also wrote and launched their own television show, Pepper Dennis, which only ran for one season. In 2010, Berg and Harberts signed a two-year deal with ABC to work on television shows such as the medical drama Off the Map and GCB.
Breaking Into Revenge
In 2013, Berg and Harberts got another major project: executive producers on the hit ABC television series Revenge. The series was entering its third season and the show’s creator, Mike Kelley, had left his role as showrunner. Executive producer Sunil Nayar was taking the reins from Kelley, and the show required a new production team. In May 2013, ABC announced that Berg and Harberts would fill Revenge’s executive producer slots.
Throughout their time on Revenge, Berg and Harberts penned three episodes for its third season: “Dissolution,” “Hatred,” and “Impetus.” They also served as writers for other episodes in the series as well. Throughout the show’s final two seasons, Berg and Harberts served as executive producers for 45 episodes. They also served as consulting producers for seven episodes in the second season.
A captivated audience of 4.8 million United States viewers watched the conclusion of Revenge on May 10th, 2015. The ABC drama, which centered on the revelation of the long-lost daughter of a wealthy, but dangerous, family, reached a shocking conclusion with its final episode “Two Graves.” The story of the Clarkes was finally laid to rest for Revenge’s dedicated fanbase, providing a sense of closure for the heroine, Emily Thorne, and those who had followed the series from the beginning.
Berg and Harberts were behind some of the most shocking moments of Revenge’s final two seasons: the resurrection of a character thought to be long dead, a riveting confession, and the clearing of innocent names. Captivating storytellers and skilled producers, Berg and Harberts will surely continue to entrance American audiences for years to come.