Have you ever woken up from the most bizarre dream of your life, and in those brief moments of snapping from dream state to reality, ever wondered–did that just happen? Such is the sentiment one feels after watching Netflix’s limited series, ‘Maniac’, starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone. From the creative mind of Cary Fukunaga who gave us hits such as the first season of ‘True Detective’ and ‘Beasts of No Nation’, comes this acid-trip of a show that will thrust you smack dab into the center of a pharma trial that is meant to replace the concept of therapy and centers around the characters Owen (Hill) and Annie (Stone).
While on the surface one may view this limited series as a funky, wacky string of delusions, it’s actually quite more than that. At its core, it explores human trauma, its long-lasting effects, and the inability to live a happy, fulfilled life unless one has confronted their past demons. These demons come in many shapes, sizes, and interesting situations throughout the series as Annie and Owen join the pharma trial to achieve optimal joy all with the help of three pills targeted to tackle specific areas.
The series has its confusing, head-scratching moments that may leave you wondering why you’ve decided to invest time in it at all, but as you push forward you’ll see there is a lot more than meets the eye. Hill and Stone’s chemistry is palpable on screen and they bring life to two very conflicted, unique characters that many viewers will resonate with. If you peel back the sci-fi, outlandish layers of ‘Maniac’, you’ll see that it’s a quest to achieve what many of us yearn for–happiness and peace.
Each episode is filled with situations that are propagated as a result of the trial, and often times, they become disconnected and confusing but are enough to keep you engaged and curious to learn what’s ahead. The allure to the series is in the human struggles, particularly Annie’s, who seems to be the center of the series more so than Owen. Her journey is a complicated, emotional one and represents a deep, dark pain embedded within her past.
There is something distorted and unorganized with how the entire series is presented, but in that madness there is somehow relatability within the beautiful chaos. Some may find this series a bit overwhelming and scatterbrained, while others may be able to see it for more than what it seems–two characters navigating through their hurt and pain.
If you are a fan of ‘Legion’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings’ this series will appeal to you more than others based on the cinematography, visual effects, and overall essence of the show that is illustrated through the dynamic storytelling. There is something odd and particular about ‘Maniac’ that makes you want to continue watching despite that constant nagging feeling in the back of your head telling you this show is too wacky to continue.
While some may find the madness beautiful, others will find it utterly ridiculous, ‘Maniac’ is a trip down repressed trauma lane via the intense pharma trial, two damaged characters, and a plot that will make you question your own mental sanity. Oh, and did we mention the series stars Justin Theroux, Julia Garner, and Sally Field? If that’s not enough to peak your interest, then perhaps this show is just not meant for you.
Written by Ariba Bhuvad
Rating – 7/10
Question: Are you excited to see Fukunaga direct the new Bond movie?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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