Pharmaceutical Mysteries in New Netflix Series ‘Maniac’


Television can be overwhelming due to the unfathomable amount of choices available, but every once in a while, a show emerges that easily falls into the “must watch” category. “Maniac” is a good example and there are several reasons why.

The limited series has an intriguing premise, as shared on IMDB: “Two strangers are drawn into a pharmaceutical trial that will, they’re assured, with no complications or side effects whatsoever, solve all their problems, permanently. Things don’t go as planned.” (The last part is obvious; If things went according to plan, the story wouldn’t warrant a TV show.)

Then there are the brains behind the ideas. “Maniac” is created by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who directed “Beasts of No Nation,” “Sin Nombre” and eight episodes of “True Detective,” and Patrick Somerville, who has writing/producing credits on “The Leftovers,” among others. Therefore, it’s safe to say that “Maniac” is made by filmmakers who have demonstrated their ability and worth more than once. This show is clearly about an experiment, but it is not, itself, an experiment. There’s comfort in that.

Leading the cast are Jonah Hill—almost unrecognizable in weight loss—and Emma Stone, who have worked together multiple times, most famously in “Superbad,” and demonstrated remarkable chemistry. Palisadians Sally Field and Hank Azaria (one of the most underrated actors of our time) appear in supporting roles, along with Justin Theroux.

Early reviews of “Maniac” praise it as an “ambitious, enthralling and brilliant series,” that drifts between being “vibrant, ridiculous and, to varying degrees, moving.” The “dazzling” visual style of the show is also referenced and that all comes down to cinematographer Darren Lew, who hails from the dizzying music video world.

Season one of “Maniac” sits comfortably at 10 episodes, meaning it can be digested in a week or two, and then we can all go back to other, more productive activities, perhaps those that require bodily movement or engagement with others. Sorry, that was just my alarm talking. It’s time for me to take a walk outside.