A sign of the apocalypse has begun. Reports of a rapidly changing world for unknown reasons underscore this gritty drama, a prequel to AMC's uber-popular "Walking Dead." The story is told through the lens of high school guidance counselor Madison Clark. The widowed mother is raising two children single-handedly and maintains a relationship with English teacher Travis Manawa, her apocalyptic partner. The challenge of blending their families is exacerbated by unforeseen chaos, and a necessary survival of the fittest takes hold.
Elizabeth Thatcher is a young teacher accustomed to high society, so she experiences culture shock when she gets her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley. Life in the small mining town is filled with challenges. A recent explosion has killed more than a dozen of the town's miners, compelling the widows of those men to work in the mines to earn money. Constable Jack Thornton, also a newcomer, is not as welcoming, because he believes Thatcher's wealthy father doomed his career by assigning him to Coal Valley so he could protect Elizabeth. Over time, though, Elizabeth and Jack become closer and begin a relationship. Janette Oke's books about the Canadian West inspired the series.
Long-distance relationships have challenges that are sometimes difficult to overcome but consider if the distance traveled was halfway around the world and a couple had just 90 days to decide whether the courtship should conclude with marriage. That's the situation facing the men and women profiled in this series, which shares the complexities of international romances. Using a visa that allows foreign fiancees of American citizens to travel to the U.S., the men and women experience life in the States with their prospective mates for the first time. Culture and language barriers must be overcome -- not to mention the stigma of being thought of as mail-order spouses -- but here's the elephant in the room: The couples must marry before the visas expire in 90 days, or else the visitors have to immediately return to their countries. With the clock ticking, these couples discover if their "happily ever after" is meant to be.
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