Why We Love Netflix's 'Maniac'

I binge watched Maniac over the course of a couple days after its release and was immediately overwhelmed by a lot of different emotions. Personally, I loved it and I’m sad to see that it’s only a mini-series; however, any person can judge the quality of a show, movie, book, TV show or what have you but it’s the why that really justifies that perception. So, here’s why I recommend Maniac to anyone looking for a new show.

1. Tension

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The series, through the characters Annie (Emma Stone) and Owen (Jonah Hill), delves into the idea of confronting past traumas through modern science rather than, in a more traditional sense, therapy. After realizing this competition between the two it provided more insight into the world that Annie and Owen were living in. It seems as though it takes place sometime in the 80s in the sense that the people are still relying on typewriters and dated computers but have more futuristic ways of payment (ad buddies), sanitation clean up, and accompaniment of robots.

These competing views of life, traditional and progressive, opened up a bigger realization in my eyes: modern society’s push towards technological/scientific advances, and its inability to let go of tradition. Not only did the competing views create an aesthetically pleasing setting, but it created a much larger tension to emphasize the push for confrontation and the resilience towards it that the characters faced while testing out a new drug. Personally, I love things that make me think about a much larger picture and Maniac definitely accomplished that through its tensions and little details.

2. Addiction

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When Annie is introduced, addiction is introduced as well. Specifically, addiction to pain. Annie is shown taking the last of a full bottle of pills and then is haunted by her need for it throughout her day. It is later divulged within that episode that the pill she was taking made her relive her most traumatic experience which begs the question why?

Why does she want to keep reliving that experience? A kind of explanation is provided an episode later, but I like to think the show is relaying a greater message about addiction; being addicted to any kind of pill or drug is being addicted to pain, whether it be the pain addiction causes to the individual or the pain it causes people in that individual’s life.

3. Genre

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Maniac is unique in the way that it’s very much a dramatic science fiction piece but also incorporates a number of other genres within its confines. At one point it’s a fantasy, a supernatural fiction, a mob motif, a romance and at some points, a comedy. It’s very refreshing to see so many different genres all in one mini-series but it also breaks the restraints that a single genre would place it in and makes its viewer question what genre really is and how different genres can convey the same themes in different ways.

4. The Pills

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The pills that Annie and Owen take on their path to confrontation are labeled A, B and C which stand for different things like agonia, behavioral and confrontation. Ultimately, the pills are supposed to help you overcome your past traumas, but I thought it was kind of funny how the pills were labeled ABC despite their given meanings because it’s like saying confronting your traumas should be as easy as ABC. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I took it as a slight jab at traditional therapy which I thought was pretty clever.

5. Fated Love

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Annie and Owen have some sort of cosmic connection. It’s introduced through their coincidental placement in the same drug trial, Owen seeing Annie’s face on various advertisements and the intertwinement of their experiences during the trial. I just genuinely liked the way the show approached the idea of love. Through these seemingly fated interactions, it would be assumed that the two characters fall in love. And they do in a sense. However, it’s not a romantic love. The show elucidates love as not a romantic infatuation or physical attraction, but as a reliance on one another, a need for each other in their lives. Annie and Owen have shared experiences and have overcome traumas together which is a much more intimate view of love than any sex scene in any movie could accomplish.

Aside from the fact that I love Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, the show is really phenomenal. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new Netflix show to watch.