8 Manhattan Spoilers Straight from the History Books

TV Lists

WGN America is continuing its original programming success with Manhattan, and we thought it was time to investigate exactly what we’re getting into with the show. Manhattan is, in essence, historical fiction. Set in the very real Los Alamos during the time of the push for nuclear armament, the new series examines life for a small group of civilians as they worked on the classified Manhattan Project. However, based on history alone, there are a few things you can definitely expect.

1. There will be more than one “winner”

In the series premiere, you’ll see scientists competing to make the first atomic bomb. The team, led by the fictional Frank Winter, will seem like underdogs, as their jobs are continuously in jeopardy, but it gets better. The “Thin Man” team might come out on top in the beginning, but it won’t stay that way for long.

2. Two different bombs are made and dropped

Anyone who took high school history knows that America dropped two atomic bombs—one on Nagasaki and one on Hiroshima. You may not know that those bombs, while both dealing with nuclear substances, were actually different bombs. The one dropped on Hiroshima was called “Thin Man” or “Little Boy.” The one we dropped three days later, on Nagasaki, was “Fat Man.” The latter worked off the implosion theory that we get to see Frank and his team test out during the first episodes.

3. You shouldn’t grow attached to Frank Winter

Don’t tell John Benjamin Hickey this, but if Manhattan stays somewhat true to the history books, you may see him replaced by Season Two. The original creator of the implosion bomb, Seth Neddermeyer, was ousted before America dropped the bomb. After running into some serious roadblocks with his implosion theory, scientist George Kistiakowsky, pointed out some of Neddermeyer’s issues and soon replaced him.

4. Even the wives will be monitored

Thousands of women poured between those fences when they followed their husbands to the desert. However, they were forbidden from ever knowing what the men were doing behind concrete walls and closed doors. Their letters were read and “important details” were blacked out. Nothing was sacred—not even conversations between husbands and wives. The government took no chances on letting husbands share even an inkling of detail about their days.

5. And everyone had lies to tell

Very few people had the privilege of leaving the area for daytrips. On the rare occasion that wives or families were allowed to leave for a day of shopping, their activities and interactions had very specific guidelines. They were almost always accompanied by soldiers, and were coached on how to answer even the most basic questions—including where they were visiting from. They even gave fake names.

6. There will be spies… and false accusations

With big secrets comes big paranoia. The slightest misstep, or too many questions asked, and residents of Los Alamos would end up right in front of agents who would hammer them until they admitted to being spies or accidentally sharing information. Not everyone accused of treason actually committed it, but you can bet those accusations came with ill effects on their lives. Expect tragic endings… and plenty of guest appearances from Richard Schiff (The West Wing) as one seriously tireless agent for “the truth.”

7. People will die

It should’nt come as a shock to anyone that many of those working on the Manhattan Project experienced serious health issues due to all of the radiation exposure. Many scientists began experiencing wheezing, hair loss, and hallucinations. As you can imagine, things only got worse from there.

8. Even the small things have meaning

The Manhattan Project was a years-long effort that involved tens of thousands of people, and tons of toxic chemicals. Expect every little thing to have significance. Why can’t the residents of Los Alamos grow their own corn, and why are the flowers changing colors? It’s not just the government micromanaging them, it’s for their own protection.

Ready to add a little mystery and intrigue into your summer? WGN America’s Manhattan is the place to devour one of history’s most interesting times, all wrapped up in a seriously sexy primetime package.

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