When watching television, we often forget that it is an art form, as we’re too focused on following the storylines. It is shows like Maniac that remind audiences that we can get lost in a storyline and still become completely mesmerized by the medium.
Maniac is a limited series created by Cary Joji Fukunaga (known for directing True Detective and Jane Eyre) that follows Owen and Annie as they participate in a pharmaceutical trial for a drug that is intended to heal the brain’s trauma. As the experiment begins to go off the rails Owen and Annie form a strange connection when their minds keep seeking the other out through the trial. While the audience views what is happening in the experiment, they also watch the awkward interactions between two of the scientists leading the experiment as they deal with an emotionally unstable supercomputer. On paper Maniac’s narrative sounds absolutely bizarre (and it is) but it is executed in a manner that highlights the tenacity of the mind.
The casting for this series features a surprisingly star-studded cast (for a television series). Emma Stone stars as Annie, an isolated woman devastated by the lost ties with her mother and sister. Her co-star Jonah Hill plays Owen, a man who can’t seem to trust his own mind and is plagued by familial obligations to relatives he doesn’t care for. Both actors provide stellar performances as their broken personas collide in and outside the narratives from the experiment. Justin Theroux plays Dr. James Mantleray, a scientist seeking professional redemption from the trial, who has a strained tie to his assistant and former flame, Dr. Azumi Fujita, played by Sonoya Mizuno. Sally Field adds a bit of hysteria into the mix as the scientist’s pop psychology mother and his unhinged supercomputer.
Maniac has 10 episodes available on Netflix. Fans might also enjoy watching Netflix’s Sense8, a visually stunning series about a group of strangers who can communicate together through their minds.