Let me be straight-up honest with you – it’s best to go in blind with Netflix’s Maniac. The little you know, the better the watch experience will be. Nevertheless, this review is written after having watched 4 episodes.
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.
While episode one introduces us to both characters, Owen takes centre stage as we learn that he comes from a wealthy family of industrialists, and has struggled his whole life with mental health issues. Issues he doesn’t believe he actually has. When Owen loses his job, he takes up the opportunity to take part in the pharmaceutical trial. Annie, on the other hand, has no sense of direction and few family issues to boot – so why not pass time with this trial?
Enter inventor, Dr James K. Mantleray (Justin Theroux), who claims he can repair everything and anything to do with the mind, be it mental illness or heartbreak. Sounds like a stretch, but who wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to ‘fix’ things? Drawing Owen, Annie and ten other strangers to the facilities of Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech, they embark on a three-day drug trial that, they are assured, will have no complications of side-effects whatsoever. They are promised all their problems will be solved, but of course, things don’t go entirely to plan, and that’s where the real fun begins.
Created by Patrick Somerville (The Leftovers), who also wrote all 10 episodes, this limited series has delivered an engrossing and thought-provoking story that is quite possibly a mind trip. Casting Jonah Hill as Owen was a masterstroke as his character hooks you from the moment he makes an appearance, while Emma Stone shines with the complexity of Annie. Justin Theroux as our leading doctor is also a delight to watch.
Maniac is a series you won’t want to miss and is a strong contender for some of the best television you will see this year. If you don’t have a Netflix subscription, you might need to get one for this series.
Maniac premieres Friday September 21 on Netflix