‘Maniac’: The Mind-Trip for Netflix Fans That May Have Crashed

‘Maniac’: The Mind-Trip for Netflix Fans That May Have Crashed

NOTE:This is a spoiler-free review, kids. If you want to watch this Cary Joji Fukunaga miniseries, enjoy. No major details will be offered here. Simple subjection about the picture this paints for the viewer (which is like Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Jackson Pollock got into a pissing match. But nevermind that. Moving on…

As we have mentioned several times, it seems there are no original ideas left in Hollywood. It’s a shame because there are obviously brilliant minds in the plastic surgery hills but the money is all going toward reboots, remakes, and unfortunate retreads for production.

Every once in a while, someone goes across the pond or around the world for an idea of inspiration. Netflix recently did that and brought to the world the upgraded and colonialized version of its Norwegian progenitor starring a blond Emma Stone (shout out to Spider-Man homers) and a svelte Jonah Hill (shout out to thumb stomachs).

The oddity, for starters, is the Norway sample platter of the same name this comes from — was a comedy?!

Prior to this, the rumored once-defunct, twice-maybe not Defenders was the largest undertaking for a Netflix miniseries. Maniac puts that to shame in terms of production quality, post-production effects, and pre-production star power. Now, if you haven’t seen it yet, come with me to the couch:

Imagine Westworld and Inception were married. Everything was great. Morning coffee. Late-night talks. Afternoon dirty texts. But it wasn’t enough. Memento swiped right for a hook-up.


And then The Usual Suspects sprayed some cologne in all the right places. Maniac is the love child of all that activity. Who’s the baby daddy? Who cares because you still can’t figure out how the relationship got started.

That said, there’s only so much opining one can do without giving away this entire nerd booty call. If you are prepared for a mental log jam, stay focused. Maniac is not for the faint-of-heart. You have to stay committed. You must put down the phone. And by all means, drop trow and get the potty break over before you start watching any amount of TV. You’ll thank us for that advice. 

And while this miniseries may be the much-anticipated main entree served under a sterling silver-domed cloche to the most sophisticated nerd out there, most geeks are more fast-food connoisseurs. They can handle a good meal but it’s more of a Star Trek reboot than a “What in the blue hell was that” like Donnie Darko. 

These 10 episodes move past the latter like a crotch-rocket motorcycle burning by you down the highway. Good night. Someone pass the Grateful Dead package of munchies!

And speaking of that blur, one of the most beautiful things in Maniac was the cinematography. Remember how those aforementioned films drug you along for the ride? It was the lens tricks, the perpetual fades and angles, the M.C. Escher-thought-Doctor-Strange-was-lame-on-screen kaleidoscope layers of activity. You think you are watching Jonah and Emma do one thing, and *BOOM* you are watching a complete opposite realm of belief.


It’s a mind-numbing deluge of misery. And it’s mesmerizing. How Cary Fukunaga kept his mind stable without going bat-ess crazy while filming it is a testament to modern science! Dude was on something serious to stay focused. Mad props to the pharmaceutical sales representative at Netflix.

(Oddly enough, this series’ premise is considerably revolved around mental health, potential cures, nuances attached to each, and our emotions connected to all of them.)

In summary, this is a series that is destined for a major dip in the road any way you look at it. It took an owner to make this thing reach its destination. And whether this gets renewed for a season two or not, Cary Fukunaga is not coming back.

“For me, I like to do one and move onto something else,” the filmmaker said. “I’d be very happy if another season were to happen, but I think they were just thinking about this as a limited season and if there’s an appetite for another one then I think [show creator] Patrick [Somerville] would be happy to take it up and do it again. But not with me.”

So much for consistency and keeping this buck-wild vision intact. That, and he’s got that whole ‘James Bond 25’ thingy on his plate.

What begins as a gripping, anachronistic dystopia ends up as a bad acid trip in the house of mirrors at the worst carnival run by ex-cons you’ve ever attended.

The show will give you a migraine if you’re not ready. The ending will hit you in the gut, ready or not. The post-credits will give you a wedgie, and no one is ever ready for that. You’re in for a tumultuous and cerebral bumper car ride. Buckle up, folks. You have been warned. Good times ahead but that highway is bumpy as hell. Enjoy.


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One thought on “‘Maniac’: The Mind-Trip for Netflix Fans That May Have Crashed

  1. Really great summary! I felt it was a perfect mash-up of Eternal Sunshine and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. All the visuals of Legion, but none of the super powers. Best original Netflix content since Stranger Things.

    Definitely agree. Do not try to watch this in one sitting.

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