‘Maniac’ goes inside the brain to break yours

New Netflix series brings mental illness into perspective


Fair use from Netflix

Megan Raatz

Science and technology are ever-evolving and improving. We can now mend bones, recreate lost limbs, and replace faulty hearts, but there is something science has not been able to do yet: fix a broken mind. This is the scenario we are confronted with in Netflix’s new colorfully nihilistic psychological drama, “Maniac.”

“Maniac” follows Owen (Jonah Hill), a young man who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, making him see persistent delusions of a strange version of his brother. Misunderstood and shamed by his family, he ends up being coerced into giving a false testimony for the real version of his brother, who has been accused of forcing a co-worker to have sex with him.

However, before testifying, Owen decides to take part in a miracle drug trial that would eliminate the need for therapy and erase suffering altogether. During all this he meets Annie (Emma Stone), another subject in the trial, who blackmailed her way in after becoming addicted to one of the drugs being tested, leading to an even more trippy plot progression.

“Maniac” has everything you could dream of and more at the exact same time. It includes “Lord of the Rings” spoofs, alien invasions, lemur heists and a plethora of other crazy drug-induced hallucinations. Mix that in with a suicidally depressed computer and a scientist with mommy issues, and you’ve got yourself a show you’ll have to rewind a couple of times before you mildly understand what’s happening.

Despite all this, the show focuses on a very human problem. There is no cure for a broken mind, and in the end, we’re all a little bit broken. “Maniac” is a well-produced show with good acting on all parts and breathtaking cinematography. Underneath it’s sometimes confusing and the bizarre exterior it is a show about addiction, mental illness, grief and friendship. If given a chance it is ultimately enjoyable.

“Maniac:” ★★★☆☆