‘Maniac’ will drive you insane
Can the human brain really be fixed? Can you truly, ever rid yourself of the common, human emotions that hold us back from living our lives? Guilt, anxiety, fear and loneliness. Can we train our brain to absolve itself?
In “Maniac,” the new, limited series from Netflix, created by Cary Joji Fukunaga (“Beasts of No Nation”), you can. “Maniac” premiered with 10 episodes, with absolutely no chance of a second season.
Show creators made sure to mix it up, having episodes range from 28 minutes to almost an hour. “Maniac” premiered on Netflix on Sept. 21.
In a near-enough future set in New York City, the audience meets Owen Milgrim, portrayed by Jonah Hill. Quiet, heavy with hallucinations and allegedly crazy. At least that’s how his family perceives him.
Owen secretly suffers from schizophrenia. All of his issues seem to burst into bigger ones, which he calls “popcorn problems,” and he constantly sees a strange version of his brother, Jed (Billy Magnussen, “Game Night”), who keeps reminding him that he’s on a mission.
In the second episode, entitled “Windmills,” we meet Annie Landsberg, portrayed by Emma Stone. Mean, and even a bit cruel, she’s hurting after a tragedy with her younger sister (Julia Garner, “Ozark”), Ellie. In order to stay “sane,” she gets high off of a pharmaceutical called the B-pill, reliving the worst day of her life.
In an attempt to try and cure themselves, Owen and Annie find themselves in a radical, pharmaceutical trial of not only the B-pill, but A and C as well. The trial is led by Dr. James Mantleray (Justin Theroux, “The Leftovers”) and Dr. Azumi Fujita, (Sonoya Mizuno, “Crazy Rich Asians”).
Annie, Owen and several others in the trial take each pill and fall into a deep, dream state. Nothing could prepare them or the viewers for what came next.
It’s easy to be confused by each episode, but it’s even easier to binge all ten, with the need to figure out what in the world could possibly happen next.
If you can appreciate storylines, within storylines, within storylines, “Maniac” may be the perfect limited series for you. With ever changing accents, hair and wardrobe, this series pulls you in and continuously wraps you up in a brand new story in almost every episode.
Episodes seven and eight are definitely ones to watch, where Hill’s acting performance deserves praise, as Owen finds himself mixed up in his family’s mob affairs while falling for a local waitress.
Hill and Stone’s performance together is unmatched. In each new story, they continue to find each other and bloom with one another — if that happens to be in the cards for Annie and Owen.
When more could’ve been executed regarding the season (or series) finale, it turned out to be pretty underwhelming, where a certain plot twist could’ve driven it over the top and given the viewers the ending we really wanted.