Maniac – Review

Genre Comedy, Drama, Science-fiction
Created by Patrick Somerville
Starring Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux, Sonoya Mizuno, Gabriel Byrne, Sally Field
Released on September 21, 2018
Duration 26–47 minutes
No. of Seasons 1
No. of Episodes 10
Flixxpanda Rating 9/10
Channel Netflix

Maniac is one of the best shows on Netflix right now. It’s entrancing with crazy cinematography, beautiful themes and an amazing cast at its center. If you haven’t seen it yet you are missing out on a masterpiece.

A limited series release on Netflix and Maniac conquered hearts and had critics raving. It deserves all the hype it’s getting.  There’s barely a flaw in the ten-episode show and we’re all desperately hoping for more.

Maniac at it core, is a show about mental illness and dealing with it in the best way possible. Mental disorders are still a hush-hush topic in most of society and regardless of how open a place the internet is, it’s still difficult to admit to yourself and even more difficult to admit to others. The courage it takes to seek treatment is immeasurable, not to mention how you can’t just take a pill to get better. It’s not like the flu, mental illnesses take effort on daily basis. It hits you when you least expect it and it takes a lot of work to get better. Although there is medication, there is no guarantee that it will work because there is a plethora of things that could be wrong with a mind and every case is different. Add in the fact that these illnesses can stem from one’s own experiences and trauma, it spells the recipe for disaster and a life of hardship.  

Maniac tackles all of this and more. It doesn’t try to romanticize the situation. It shows the reality of two people attempting to lead better lives by putting in the effort to try and get better. Owen (Jonah Hill), a schizophrenic and Annie (Emma Stone), a depressed young woman sign up for a treatment that looks like it’s still in its testing phases. But the treatment promises a successful healing of their brains and that’s more than what most therapists can guarantee so the two get on board. They’re given three pills A, B and C over three days. ‘A’ is supposed to force you to relive your trauma, ‘B’ should expose your blind spots and ‘C’ should force confrontation. Each pill causes a drug-induced trip that has correlations with their illnesses and has this weird entrancing quality, which gets the audience hooked.

Owen and Annie play a myriad of characters in these drug-fueled fantasies, from an 80’s retro married couple to dueling thieves in the 1940’s. There’s even this stunning but clearly knock-off Lord of the Rings set, truly a dream come true for all the nerds. Each sequence in Maniac is just insane enough to make your mind reel but not so much so, that you scoff and stop watching.

While I believe Maniac is perfect in all its nuances, there are definitely loose ends at the finale, but I expected this considering it’s a limited release.  I can forgive the untied plot lines because of how brilliant it was overall. Owen and Annie aren’t miraculously healed at the end, but they are better and that’s more than what most people suffering hope for, plus the two becomes friends somewhere along the way so now they have each other to ground themselves to.

A little bittersweet but exceptionally well-made nevertheless.

Credit – Netflix | YouTube

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