Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

Manhattan is sort of a story about the first atomic bomb

Tonight WGN America launched its second original series, Manhattan. Set in Los Alamos during the war years of the 1940s, the show on the surface is about the project to build the first atomic bomb. But there's a lot more going on. Spoilers ahead.


The main characters of the show are fictional. We see Oppenheimer briefly and I expect he and other historical figures will show up from time to time. While the true story of the development of the bomb would make a good story that's not really what the show seems to be about.

It seems to me to be more about national security and the security state. The wife of a newly arrived family is shocked to find out her mail is being read by government censors. A scientist who took some classified papers has a bag put over his head and gets hauled away in the night (more on him in a bit).

Frank Winters, a scientist who has been on the project for a while, is obsessed with getting the bomb built to end the war as soon as possible. It's straining his marriage to a woman who has a PhD in botany but is relegated to being a housewife since there is no opportunity to do work in her field at Los Alamos.


Winters isn't a fan of the zealous security atmosphere but when it helps him achieve his ends he turns in a scientist working for him who took documents for a personal reason (i.e. he wasn't a spy). This after the guilty scientist had came to Winters, returned the documents and explained what happened. Winters had originally intended to burn the documents but changed his mind when turning in the scientist would help him keep his team together. Because he is certain his team can make a bomb sooner than the main team working their own design.

From the preview of the rest of the season it looks like the security issue will be a major one. Since there is a young good looking couple we can expect the more typical drama as well. Oh, and someone will build an atomic bomb too. But I don't think that's what the show is really about. Even thought they used the requisite song for A-bomb related stuff.

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