“Maniac,” the new ten episode Netflix show featuring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone, is truly one of the most well-done and immersive shows that’s been released in these past couple of months.
“Maniac” gained ridiculous amounts of traction and internet fame after only days of it being released, and with good reason.
Jonah Hill is well-known for his older comedic work such as his roles in “Superbad” and “21 Jumpstreet.” Although working in more serious movies is nothing new for Hill (“The Wolf of Wallstreet” for example), this is an entirely new side of him viewers have never seen before. In this show, he plays a mentally ill adult and is selected to participate in an experimental drug trial. This show takes place in a modern and surrealist almost dystopia fueled by advertisements and money. Hill shows real and raw emotions. His acting and character portrayal are beyond incredible.
Not to mention that Emma Stone has been in the hot seat lately coming out with blockbuster after blockbuster. With movies such as “La La Land,” “Crazy Stupid Love,” and “Easy A” up her sleeve, it’s no surprise that Stone was a perfect fit for this show.
“Maniac” is comparable to the newest and only Boots Riley directed film, “Sorry to Bother You,” which was released in late January of earlier this year, with a few “The Matrix” aspects. This new wave of modern surrealism (including “Black Mirror”) is something many teenagers and millennial are eating up. Moviegoers love movies that make them think and question reality, and this new genre (especially in the case of “Maniac”) does more than that; it intrigues people with human interest and keeps them in with altered realities and unexpected twists.
The writing alone is worth awards. The character backstories are integrated beautifully into the plot. The two main characters, Annie and Owen, are given tragic and three-dimensional personality traits that really make them stand out. Everything written into the show is done for a reason and there’s always a motive for their actions. While the dialogue seems to make that aspect a little bit too clear, it makes the plot easy to follow along with when dealing with surrealism, dreams, mental illness, and altered realities.
The set design and filming locations are incredible too. The 80s set show combined both old, new, and creative technologies. (Minor spoiler alert) particularly in the episodes where the subjects are taking the B and C pills, there are absolutely beautiful sets and tones. Considering how many times the time period and location change, the show adapted very well to each and every one. It immersed the audience into the scenery and is the most perfect example of how to show instead of tell.
Even as great as “Maniac” was, the show still had it’s downsides. The major thing that throws the audience off is how weird some of the scenes get, particularly towards the end of the series. At one point Owen turns into a hawk in search for Annie while under the final C pill. In addition to the weirdness, the way Owen “saves” everyone from the computer’s wrath is by solving a chrome Rubik’s cube. Those scenes came seemingly out of nowhere and definitely could have been done differently. It felt almost as if the creativity from the writers seemed to be taken out of them by the time they reached the final episode.
All in all, “Maniac” is one of the best shows of 2018 and is bound to win awards very soon. This show is a must-watch for all film-lovers and cinephiles.
Doreen Coreen // A&E Editor
Watch the trailer for “Maniac” here: