The last time we saw Jonah Hill and Emma Stone appear on screen together was in the 2007 Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg written teenage comedy “Superbad.” While that film launched their future careers and started their rise to stardom, no one could have predicted they would both end up accomplishing in the future.
Now, eleven years after “Superbad,” both Hill and Stone are regarded as A-list actors in Hollywood. They have even received numerous Academy Award nominations throughout their careers, including one win for Stone for her work in “La La Land.” It only makes sense the two would co-produce and star in one of the most ambitious and best streaming series of the year.
After the critical and commercial success of such original programs like “ Stranger Things” and “ Queer Eye ,” Netflix has a new winner under their belt with this limited series, “ Maniac .”
This psychological dark comedy, set in an alternate distant future, follows Owen, played by Hill, and Annie, played by Stone. They portray two mentally disturbed individuals who find themselves taking part in a pharmaceutical trial. During the trial, patients get paid for trying out three experimental pills that promise happiness upon being taken.
Based on a Norwegian series of the same name, the show tackles issues related to mental illness. It shines a light on the topics of anxiety, depression and schizophrenia in a way that makes those struggling with their own mental illness feel less alone.
Creating any visual representation of mental illness should be difficult for any director, yet Cary Joji Fukunaga pulls it off. What seems like a trippy sci-fi concept turns into a genre bending show that goes from fantasy epic to spy thriller to crime drama.
This is a series that requires all of your attention, as it throws all of its ideas at you hoping that you are keeping up. It is amazingly written and beautifully directed, but what really shines through is the cinematography.
Other aspects of the show that stand out are the costume design and original score. In fact, it probably has some of the best orchestrated music I have heard. Though Hill and Stone are the stars of the show, nearly every scene is stolen by Justin Theroux, Sally Field and newcomer Sonoya Mizuno, who I expect to see more of in the future.
While I could go on about this series, I believe the less you know about it, the better experience you will have watching it.
Also, be on the lookout for the many hidden references throughout, including homages to films like “Raising Arizona,” “Lord of the Rings” and “ Dr. Strangelove.” Even the ending of the series shares a similar resemblance to the ambiguous and bittersweet end of “ The Graduate .”
As a matter of fact, the entire series feels like an unofficial sequel to the other memory centered sci-fi comedy “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind .” If you are looking for something new to watch on Netflix, let “Maniac” be your new obsession. Afterward you can interpret what you think is real and what is not.