Isaac Davis is a TV writer sick of the junk he is forced to crank out and harboring dreams of being a famous novelist. His love life is in a shambles; he is tormented by his ex-wife Jill (Meryl Streep), a lesbian who has written a tell-all book about their marriage, and he is dating a teenager Tracy (Mariel Hemingway) who is disenchanted with his putdowns and refusal to commit. Isaac's best friend Yale (Michael Murphy) has begun an affair with his friend Mary (Diane Keaton). Like Isaac, who can't figure out how to begin the first sentence of his novel, Yale struggles through his lack of resolve, as shown by his inability to leave his wife Emily (Anne Byrne). 'Manhattan' is both a grim dissection of perpetually dissatisfied New Yorkers and an ode to the city itself.