Hiding in plain sight: The big and small secrets on Manhattan

“This entire hill was built on secrets, Frank. They’re traded around like ration stamps” – Glen Babbit

This past week it was announced (or rather mentioned, “announced” being a word reserved for things that people actually care about) that the WGN show, Manhattan, had been cancelled. Its ratings were abysmal, it hardly even mustered enough to get it into the top 1,000 watched shows of 2015. This is doubly unfortunate because the show is competent and captivating and because I just started in on its windswept, sandy, sweaty first season. Manhattan is set in 1943 Los Alamos, New Mexico and surrounds an army compound where scientists are sciencing-up nuclear weapons. Yes, it is about the Manhattan Project but, generally speaking, the main characters in the show aren’t the actual historical major players, instead are the (fictional) underlings and unsung heroes, the grunts if you will, of the real-life events. As of this writing I’ve made my way through the majority of season one. The acting, writing and production put the show in the same company as any other prestige drama on TV but, for whatever reason – maybe the fact that it was on WGN and no one could find it? Maybe because it never engages in much in the way of anti-heroics, it’s characters rather just messy people, making a mess of their own lives and others – it never seemed to enter into the same conversations as the Mad Mens and Breaking Bads of the world.

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