Maniac is the much hyped new sci-fi/fantasy series on Netflix. Featuring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill in the lead roles, the series has also been directed by Cary Fukunaga. If you haven't heard of him, he is currently directing the new James Bond movie but his other credits include Beasts Of No Nation (review here!) with Idris Elba and the first season of HBO's True Detective. That alone is a good enough reason to give Maniac a watch.
Maniac is set a little into the future when the world is more technologically advanced. The story begins mid-way through our two protagonists lives. We don't anything about them but both appear to be unhappy with some serious problems. Annie Landsberg, played by Emma Stone, is a woman who dwells unhealthily on her imperfect relationships with her sister. Owen Milgrim, played by Jonah Hill, is the son of a wealthy family who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Milgrim believes he is getting messages about ‘a plan' that he needs to follow through on. After seeing Landsberg's photograph on a billboard, he thinks she is the person who can help him. By sheer coincidence the meet each other when interviewing to take part in a new drug trial. Milgrim needs the money and Landsberg is already addicted to the drug but can't afford any more so both are desperate to be accepted. And they are.
The drugs are called Pill A, B and C and they are touted as a revolutionary way to repair anything about the mind. They can cure anything from mental illness or heartbreak with no complications or side-effects whatsoever. But a glitch in the computer system that only effects Annie and Owen means they continually find themselves together in different worlds induced by the drugs.
Maniac is definitely one of the better series recently released by Netflix for a number of reasons. Firstly, you have to pay attention to it. You simply won't be able to follow it unless you're engaged. Secondly, while it is set in a fictional world it isn't a million miles from where society is headed. The reality of which is a little terrifying. Thirdly Emma Stone, Jonah Hill and the supporting cast of Gabriel Byrne, Justin Theroux, Sonoya Mizuno, Sally Field and Julia Garner (Ozark) are absolutely brilliant.
The characters and storyline are clearly defined and the overall plot doesn't miss a beat. It is a little confusing to start off and frustrating as you try to get to grips with what is real and what isn't. But for all of that it really comes down two very lonely people who discover it's easier to get through life with friends.