TV Show Reviews
Review of "Maniac"
airs now on Netflix
Maniac is the new hallucinogenic Netflix series that
defies any genre, but at the same time, embraces each one it
The story begins in an alternate-reality version of New
York City. Is it our present time? Is it the 1980's? Is it
our present time as envisioned by people in the 1980's? Is
it even real? The importance of this question dissolves
immediately as the viewer is immersed in a familiar yet
not-at-all familiar techno landscape.
Don't get me wrong, playing chess with a snarky robot
koala in Central Park sounds like a fun time. Automatic
street sweepers roaming the sidewalks are an excellent
innovation for the removal of dog poop. It's all the other
things that seem troublesome to me. Like how smoking
cigarettes inside medical labs is deemed acceptable by all.
Or how people in need of cash are forced to use an Ad Buddy-
a service that sends advertisers to follow you and bother
you wherever you stroll. There's something inherently dismal
with the character that Jonah Hill plays and also every
aspect of life itself in this world they've created. We're
not even through the first episode yet. Oh boy.
All ten episodes of the series were directed by Cary Joji
Fukunaga. This was the first detail that enticed me, because
that's who directed my favorite scenes in True Detective,
season one. That fact along with my huge appreciation for
Emma Stone, I somehow already knew going into this thrill
ride that I was going to enjoy it.
Maniac is weird as heck and it draws you in like a drug
that you weren't ever supposed to take. It's excitingly
uncomfortable. Jonah Hill and Emma Stone are the
protagonists that seem to be lost on this kaleidoscopic
journey with you. That's what makes their performances so
special here. When the viewer has no idea what's happening,
neither do they. We're all together in this, figuring it all
out one step at a time.
Justin Theroux does an especially fantastic job with the
wildly absurd role he was given. From the very first scene
he's in, you know that many laughs will be had. You could
say I was, Therouxly entertained...
All in all, I highly
recommend this series to any Netflix bingers out there who
want to crank out a solid tenner. And if you've ever been a
depressed misanthrope who volunteers for a pharmaceutical
trial in a dystopian world, you'll feel right at home.
Set in a world somewhat like our world, in a time quite
similar to our time, Maniac tells the stories of Annie
Landsberg (Emma Stone) and Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill), two
strangers drawn to the late stages of a mysterious
pharmaceutical trial, each for their own reasons. Annie’s
disaffected and aimless, fixated on broken relationships
with her mother and her sister; Owen, the fifth son of
wealthy New York industrialists, has struggled his whole
life with a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia. Neither of
their lives have turned out quite right, and the promise of
a new, radical kind of pharmaceutical treatment—a sequence
of pills its inventor, Dr. James K. Mantleray (Justin
Theroux), claims can repair anything about the mind, be it
mental illness or heartbreak—draws them and ten other
strangers to the facilities of Neberdine Pharmaceutical and
Biotech for a three-day drug trial that will, they’re
assured, with no complications or side-effects whatsoever,
solve all of their problems, permanently.
not go as planned.
Maniac is created by Patrick Somerville, and directed by
Cary Joji Fukunaga.
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