Fandom can be a scary place. Since we began doing our podcast and writing about pop culture, I have tried not to get pulled into too much. When you get a group of impassioned people who differ in opinions… well in the past few years, we have seen an influx of what can result. So, I tend to keep my distance, while also being a gentleman in my mid-40s with a family and all the responsibilities therein, discerning my time spent. I discuss with my partners in the rest of the podcast, maybe drop a tweet or an Insta post and move on. Then I began watching Manifest on NBC. Sci-fi and paranormal drama Manifest, created by Jeff Rake, focuses on the survivors of Flight 828, a plane that mysteriously disappears while traveling from Jamaica to New Jersey and then re-appears five years later. To the passengers, no time has passed, but for the people they left behind, life moved on, some having spent years grieving, now having to readjust to their return. The show debuted on NBC in 2018, with the third season finale airing on June 10, 2021. Netflix released Seasons 1 and 2 on its streaming service, also on June 10th, where it quickly took over the top spot and had remained in the Top 2 since. On June 14, 2021, NBC canceled the series. Due to the cliffhanger ending to season 3 and the fact that creator Jeff Rake originally sold Manifest to NBC with a six-season plan mapped out, the show currently has stopped at the midpoint.
While there is plenty of characters to focus on, I quickly found myself invested in all the characters, concerned for their futures, and experiencing all the nuanced feelings of their struggles. At the center of all this is the Stone family, and for me, the struggles and triumphs of Ben and Grace Stone. Grace Stone, the wife of Ben and mother of Cal and Olive, spent years grieving the loss of Cal, Ben, and his sister Michaela, and then suddenly must accept their presence, unchanged from when they left. It is a testament to the actors (Josh Dallas as Ben Stone, Athena Karkanis as Grace Stone, Luna Blaise as Olive Stone, and Jack Messina as Cal Stone) that week in and week out they could deliver performances that made you feel the visceral feelings that their characters experienced, whether triumph or heartbreak. They paint a beautiful portrait of a family going through adversity, making you hope for a happy ending. Being a father and husband that finds a lot of similarities that I can relate to in Josh Dallas’s portrayal of Ben, this particular storyline resonated with me, probably more than others due to the station of my point in life. That or I am a much more emotional softy than my large, mean-eyebrowed, grizzly-like exterior shows (probably a little of both). Therein lies the beauty of the story’s reach, as guided by Jeff Rake, with the robust cast it has a point of view character for almost everyone.
With the tragic 3rd season finale and abrupt cancellation, fans of the show took to social media to fight for its revival on another network or streaming service. Suddenly, #SaveManifest was a top trending topic on Twitter and has remained a trending topic since. When you read so many stories of fandom, you become jaded in some of their actions. So far none of that has been evident in the support of Manifest. It has been an environment of support and continued effort to get the word out to attempt to find a new home for what is the favorite show for some fantastically fervent fans. Making it even more special to the fans, it has been in cooperation with the creator, cast, writers, and crew, who regularly communicate with the fans on social media. As an example of the support, Twitter account @SaveManifest has been organizing nightly Twitter live tweet watch parties, which have been loyally attended by creator Jeff Rake and cast members, all while interacting with the fans. To see a simple cross-section of what this show means to many of the fans, do a simple search of #SaveManifest. I even have found myself (see opening comments) following and posting to save the show multiple times every day. So, while everything is only in the speculation stage, it seems like Netflix could be the perfect new home for Manifest, which is not without precedent would give many fans hope, including this one. I’m also holding out hope that the tragic season finale has a happy ending down the road, with the subject matter of the show, it is not out of the realm of belief.
Manifest is produced by Warner Bros. Television, Universal Television, Compari Entertainment, and Jeff Rake Productions, starring Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J. R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina, Parveen Kaur, Matt Long, and Holly Taylor. It is currently streaming with Seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix and Season 3 on Hulu and Peacock.
Go watch it. It will be worth it and you’ll have a new favorite. Look up the watch parties, interact with the fans, cast, and writers. I’ll be there with everyone else, holding out hope that Netflix comes through. Until then: #SaveManifest