Stop What You're Doing and Watch "Maniac" on Netflix

Are you looking for a new binge-worthy show to watch and be glued to? Is sci-fi and psychological drama right up your alley? Do you love Jonah Hill and Emma Stone? If you said yes to any of these questions, Netflix has a show just for you: “Maniac.” 

This 10-episode limited series on Netflix stars Jonah Hill and Emma Stone and is set in a present-day alternative reality. Jonah Hill plays Owen, a mentally ill man who is living a poor and difficult life and volunteers to partake in a drug study to earn money in hopes of paying off his debt. His co-star, Emma Stone, plays Annie, a woman with a rough past she still is not able to fully cope with as well as a drug addiction, which persuades her to participate in the same study as Owen to get more of the drug and will even go as far as blackmail. The show portrays the two as destined to be in each other’s lives but the reason why is unclear throughout most of the series. The drug study promises a better life for all who undergo the process and the technology the scientists use to conduct it is top of the line. However, this study is not the safest out there and is meant to test the brain’s capacity to endure trauma. It consists of three stages which put the patients in a dream-like state as they experience each stage and their data is recorded. All goes well for the first stage of the study but when Annie and Owen’s dreams crossover in the second stage things begin to get stranger. Throughout the short-lived series, problems with reliance on artificial intelligence (AI) are highlighted, putting the lives of the patients in danger. Annie and Owen are forced to work together in order to save their lives and the lives of the other patients. When they are released, the two are brought back together by a disturbing occurrence, leaving the series on an incredibly steep cliffhanger. 

 

Photo by: LaShauna Bell

 

So, why should you watch this other than the intricate and interesting plot? The portrayal of mental illness is done in a way that leaves the audience guessing reality from fiction as well as their own struggles with it. It also explores the dangers of inhumane drug testing, blurring the line between what is right and wrong. This is where the psychological element comes in as well. Each stage of the process makes the patients relive the worst days of their lives and eventually confront it, forcing them to endure insane amounts of trauma and distress, which is a compelling process to watch. Furthermore, the presence of AI serves as a warning to all people not to become dependent on it, for there could be extreme consequences that put people’s lives in danger. Which is nothing new for the sci-fi genre. If these reasons weren’t enough, the cinematography is great, with perfect shots, lights, colors, music, overall ambiance, and everything in between. Still not convinced? It has some of the greatest actors of our time in lead roles and it’s sprinkled with other big names, such as Sally Fields, so watch it for them if for nothing else. 

Overall, “Maniac” is compelling and definitely binge-worthy. Though there are only 10 episodes and no hope for more (don’t worry, you can re-watch as many times as you please), it is a truly great show that really makes you think about some real-world issues on a bigger scale. So, what are you waiting for? This show has it all, so start binging!