Word War II drama “Manhattan” introduces a budding lesbian affair

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In the early 1940s, while much of the world was at war, some of the greatest minds in physics were brought to a desert Army outpost in New Mexico to build a weapon unlike any ever seen before: the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project, as it was known, changed warfare forever. This summer, Chicago television station WGN debuted a series based on the men and women who were the backbone of the Manhattan Project, called simply Manhattan.

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Among Manhattan’s large ensemble cast is the lovely Rachel Brosnahan, who most notably plays the queer character Rachel in House of Cards. Brosnahan plays Abby Issacs, an educated and wealthy young mother from New England who is married to Charlie, one of the main physicists brought in to work on the Manhattan Project. Abby is initially horrified to be stuck on the dilapidated and dusty Army base, but does her best to make friends and support her husband.

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Early on in the series, Abby is drawn to her married neighbor, Elodie (played by Belgian actress Carole Weyers) after catching a glimpse of her getting out of the shower. The women meet more formally when Abby takes a part-time job working the base’s switchboard. The two hit if off and become fast friends. While the chemistry is there between the two characters, after watching the last few episodes where there was little momentum, I figured that in all likelihood, Abby’s curiosity would simply fizzle. I was wrong.

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In this week’s episode, Charlie heads out of town on a top-secret mission, alongside one of his rivals, the gifted scientist Helen Prins. When Abby finds out that her husband is traveling with Helen, she’s less than pleased. In order to cheer her, Elodie suggests that they have a night out on the town. While getting ready, a jealous Abby makes a remark about Helen being attractive, and Elodie stops what she’s doing. “You are ravissant,” she tells Abby, which translated into lesbian means, totally dreamy.

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Elodie then comments on how they are going to have a fantastic girl’s night out, and her husband won’t even know she’s gone. Abby gets up the nerve to comment on how she has “heard” Elodie and her husband going at it, and they sound like a pretty solid couple. Elodie is like, “Gurl, my orgasms are about as real as Jean Harlow’s blonde hair”. She can only get off on her own. Abby is slightly scandalized by Elodie’s admission, but in a good way.

They get suited up in some pretty risqué outfits for 1942, and head to the nearest juke joint. When they arrive, they are greeted by a fellow who offers them beer and moonshine, and takes Abby for a spin on the dance floor. After Abby has had some of the moonshine, she becomes unsteady on her feet. The man pulls her into a dark hallway and tries to kiss her. When she resists, he pushes her against the wall. Elodie finds them and pulls Abby away from the creep, and takes her home.

Once tucked into bed, Abby is still a little drunk and full of energy. She pleads with Elodie to dance with her, and in the moment, Elodie leans over and kisses Abby. She quickly regains her composure and gets up to leave, but Abby grabs her arm and pulls her down to the bed. They kiss again, now much more passionately, Abby pulling Elodie on top of her.

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The next morning, Abby wakes up hung over and naked. She is alone however and startled by her son’s nanny, who offers to make her a sandwich since it’s noon. Abby tells her that she’s not feeling well, and when the nanny leaves, she looks over at the spot next to her where Elodie appears to have slept.

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When Abby’s husband Charlie, who has been dealing with some fantasies about another woman himself, comes home later that night, Abby’s waiting up for him. He tells her how much he loves her and she hugs him tightly, but says nothing back.

We will have to see how the rest of the season plays out. Will Abby turn away from Elodie in the cold, sober light of day? Or will that night spark a passionate affair between them? Hard to say because Abby seems quite dedicated to Charlie. We will be sure to cover any further developments.

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Manhattan airs on WGN, Sundays at 10/9 Central. If you cable provider does not carry WGN, previous episodes are available on Hulu.

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