A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Manifest is a supernatural drama about a group of passengers onboard a mysterious airline flight. It was thought to have crashed five years ago, but the plane suddenly appears in the present, with the crew not having aged a day and thinking they've only been on a three-hour flight. Family drama ensues as loved ones have gone on with their lives. There's a little violence; a character swings a lead pipe at a someone's head; intense turbulence causes severe panic among passengers and could be potentially scary. Fans of Lost may see similarities, but Manifest, while familiar, still manages to compel. Parents looking for a new show to share with teens of any age will find intrigue and drama here.
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What's the story?
MANIFEST begins in 2013 as we meet the Stone family: Mom, Dad, their adult kids Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) and Ben (Once Upon a Time's Josh Dallas), his wife Grace (Athena Karkanis), and their 10-year-old twins Olive (Luna Blaise) and Cal (Jack Messina), who has terminal leukemia. While waiting to board their oversold flight from Montego Bay back to New York, Michaela, Ben, and Cal swap their tickets and take a later flight. That flight hits intense turbulence and then gets rerouted to a different airport to land. Once on the ground the plane is met by a group of federal agents who tell the passengers and crew that they haven't just completed a three-hour flight: It's now five and half years later, and Flight 828 was declared missing and everyone onboard presumed dead. Soon the passengers start to realize that while they haven't aged a day, time has indeed marched on. Michaela learns her fiancé has married her best friend. Cal's twin sister is now a teenager who has grown up without a dad. And when Ben and Michaela discover that they're both hearing voices telling them the same thing, they start to realize that maybe the passengers of Flight 828 didn't just lose five years, but gained something they don't yet understand.
Is it any good?
A compelling mystery is a great way to start a show, but what differentiates this series from its many similar predecessors is its heart. In a trend that can most easily be traced back to the success of Lost, the airwaves have been littered with the corpses of shows that kicked off with a cool supernatural mystery -- The Event, Flash Forward, The Nine, Invasion, The Crossing, Surface, The Whispers, Threshold -- but couldn't maintain the promise of their premise. Now we have Manifest and its mystery is a doozy: An airliner missing for more than five years suddenly reappears and no one onboard has aged a day or even realized half a decade has passed. It's a fantastic hook, even though it contains some elements audiences may find familiar.
At its core, this show is a family drama exploring the lives of the Stone family. Focusing on adult siblings Michaela and Ben, two imperfect people trying to integrate themselves back into a world that has moved on without them, the makers of Manifest show that they've learned from the mistakes of their forebears. The key to a compelling mystery show isn't necessarily the complexities of the mystery itself, but in carving out sympathetic characters viewers want to follow.
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For kids who love mysteries
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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