“Maniac” is a newly released Netflix Original Series and also my new favorite show. Emma Stone and Jonah Hill lead the cast in this dystopian future drama followed by Sally Field and Justin Theroux. The mini series follows the lives and more so the minds of Annie (Emma Stone) and Owen (Jonah Hill) during a pharmaceutical trial in New York City. Annie and Owen join the trial to try to make sense of a cure for their inner demons.

Annie struggles with her past relationships with her mother and sister and Owen struggles with his current relationship with his family members. Owen, who was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia, feels pressure from his family as his brother is set to be on trial for sexual assault in the workplace. He feels like a failure in his family because he is so different from his five hypermasculine brothers and is not as financially well off as they are. He leads a mundane and lonely life interrupted by the occasional hallucinations and psychotic breaks.

Annie, on the other hand, is a fiery woman plagued by guilt and anger. She lives in a home with strangers and her only living relative lives in a pod where he grieves the loss of his wife and daughter. She manipulates and lies to other to get what she wants, which is how she got access to the pharmaceutical trial.

The series is probably one of the most honest depictions of mental illness in a while. The audience witnesses two broken people who have been isolated from their family, try desperately to fix themselves — to become “normal.”

The directing and use of special effects allows the audience to see their version of the reality of living with a mental illness. This technique allows the audience to sympathize and empathize with them as they struggle to distinguish what is real from what is not.

Each episode is a visual representation of the main character’s brains during each stage of the trial interchanged with their reaction to those visuals in real life. The trial has many hiccups and ultimately reveals a lot about the people administering them. The audience also sees relationships between the scientists and the work at the lab, providing a truly comprehensive look on the trial.   

Overall this is a series I would highly recommend to anyone who is a fan of psychologically driven shows and films. Even though a second season is not in the works at the moment, you will not regret getting invested in the story or the characters.

Review overview

Storyline9
Pacing10
Acting10
Visuals10
Interesting10

Summary

9.8Even though Jonah Hill and Emma Stone are more known for their comedic roles, they impress and hold their own in Netflix's newest Original Series "Maniac."