Imagine you’re embarking on an exploration to visit a world that’s simultaneously real and fictional. If that sounds interesting to you, “Maniac,” a science fiction and drama miniseries released on Netflix on Sept. 21, might be something you would enjoy.
The show is based off of a Norwegian television series of the same name, and it takes science fiction to a new level. The characters in the Netflix show are portrayed by Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux, Sonoya Mizuno, Sally Field and Gabriel Byrne. The roles require the actors to embrace a new world filled with scientific experiments, intense psychological disorders and fantasies of their imagination.
The series was created by Patrick Somerville and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.
“Maniac” is a comedy-drama with science fiction and psychological components. The mixture of genres makes the series appeal to a variety of audiences. The show highlights some intense issues, such as mental illness, deeply-rooted family problems and death. The dark comedy enables the show to highlight these issues while also making light of many of the situations.
In the first episode, the audience learns there is a pharmaceutical trial being done that is rumored to cure all diseases. For many of the scientists involved, this is their life’s work.
The normally-comedic Hill plays a very serious character in the series. His character, Owen, suffers severely from schizophrenia, causing him to see and hear people who aren’t there and have a hard time socializing. His presence can be unsettling at times because it’s clear that his mental health is suffering. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him, as his family doesn’t seem to be understanding about his situation.
After losing his job, Owen signs up for the trial.
Stone portrays Annie as an antisocial person who keeps her emotions to herself. She doesn’t have any friends and acts hostile toward most people who are in her life. We discover she is addicted to Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech’s A-pills.
After finding out the trial will be testing the A-pill, Annie signs up for the trial so that she has another opportunity to take the drug.
During the trial they go through three different stages, with the A-pill, the B-pill and the C-pill.
The pills cause them to relive some of the worst moments of their lives and also force them to deal with the tragedies of their pasts.
The show is a good example of the social penetration theory. This is where relationships become closer and more intimate as the levels of communication between people continue to get deeper and deeper. As the episodes unfold, the the show continues to get deeper into the minds of the subjects and scientists. Each episode peels back another layer and viewers figure out how much all of the different characters have gone through in their pasts.
In parts of the show, there’s a distinct futuristic feel due to the immense amount of technology and scientific ideas. In other parts, the show takes the viewers back in time with clips from the 1940s.
As the show unfolds, the script and the acting continue to go back and forth from reality to fantasy. The intensity and mystery of the storyline continues until the very end of the last episode.
“Maniac” leaves viewers with examples of acceptance, understanding and moving forward from the past, and just how important those things can be in a friendship.