Netflix’s Maniac is a fascinating, brilliant show, and one of my favorites of 2018. We should expect no less from the creative voices behind “The Leftovers” and “True Detective,” but this show still found a way to surprise me episode after episode. ... Maniac plays with genre and dramatic expectations to gain insight into the human condition in ways that other programs can’t touch.
Maniac, for its part, throws down a tale that swerves to the left and swerves to the right without ever losing velocity. But seeing is believing while not believing what you’re seeing is also part of the experience.
Very quirky, very left-field, and at times hard to understand (maybe even hard work), this is nevertheless one of the most intelligent and heartfelt productions I have ever seen. Funny and beautiful and sad despite the insanity of the plot. Worth watching again.
This is the best show I have seen in the last **** perhaps in my adult life.
Even if you don't like Emma Stone or Jonah Hill, this show is probably still for you. For those willing to relax and accept the slow and deliberate writing, pacing and framing of the initial episodes there is a huge payoff throughout this show that begs for multiple viewings upon completion. It is rare that a confluence of excellent writing combines with excellent visuals designed perfectly for the actors on the screen. Every scene in this single-season show is shot, without exception, to enhance the story with precision. The show itself will have you howling with laughter if you appreciate dark humor and the absurdity of internal and external modern human struggles and timeless existential crises.
This long film invokes both The Leftovers and True Detective but succeeds at being much more humorous than both while respectfully tackling much of the same darkness. After watching this show, it is clear that the Leftovers, while interesting and inventive in its own right, was merely the proving grounds for the ideas that are more properly fleshed out and succinct, here. Like those shows, too, this also evokes David Lynch, though I have never really been a huge fan of his and I still love this.
And, while the pacing is often methodical, you will be drawn in by the 3rd or 4th episode and want to see where it all ends. Unlike the Lindeloff-written Leftovers, it does not meander aimlessly or thoughtlessly meditating almost solely on darkness and loneliness and loss like heroin. And unlike True Detective, it explores and extracts the deep absurdity of the seriousness and darkness of the human experience, rather than just dwelling on them. Because of this, you will find yourself laughing uncontrollably from a deep and profound place during serious events in one viewing of the show. However, if you watch it again, you may ponder the events and meditate or reflect thoughtfully on them the next time you watch it. There are moments when you may find yourself with a tear in your eye while you are laughing--and that is the sign that these artists have truly captured some truth of human essence that few artists achieve. This is all done expertly by the lighting-in-a-bottle conflagration of talent and intelligence in the methodical scripting, design, acting, and direction involved. Honestly, the script is unrelentingly good; every line has a purpose.
Speaking of the design, the genius and inventiveness of the world-building and set design needs its own mention. It is striking and bizarre, but after making it halfway through the series, you begin to understand all of it perfectly while marveling that someone could come up with such bizarre juxtapositions in their head, explain it to someone, and have it work out so perfectly. On paper, it probably sounds like a mess of strange 80s references, but somehow it all makes precise modern sense in the show and enhances every scene. The bizarre but deliberate sets are clearly part of the story; without them, the show would not have worked.
Just as the set design is itself a character in the show, every actual character in this show serves a great purpose and has a well-explored arc, even the minor characters. Nothing in this wild stew is just filler, which is quite remarkable in Hollywood these days.
With all that being said, you cannot watch this show while doing other things; it does require your complete attention to appreciate. Otherwise, it will come off as annoying, pretentious, and you will easily get lost. Watch this show alone when you have time to devote to a great story without pretense or expectation and it will somehow both subvert and supply every expectation you want from great storytelling.
Maniac is one of the year’s most refreshing series and a series that always seems 10 seconds away from declaring, “The most complicated computer of all is the human mind.” It’s hypnotizing eye candy that won’t completely nourish the brain or the soul, but it will satiate them for a little bit.
Maniac is inventive and well-paced enough (the episodes clock in at a welcome 40 minutes or less) to breeze past its missteps. ... In an age of desiccated puzzle-stories, Maniac puts emotion first, even at the risk of sentimentality. It’s a heart-shaped Rubik’s Cube, a funny, consistently surprising fable of broken machines trying to reassemble themselves.
There’s a fusion here between modern melancholia and those romps where potential lovers keep encountering one another in skips through time, which sounds tedious but works somewhat splendidly, once the series gets going. ... Hill and Stone are both terrifically capable at conveying the series’s many moods, while Theroux looks especially grateful to be hamming it up after so much deeply-furrowed frowning in “The Leftovers.”
When Maniac is good, it’s funny, affecting, and fascinating; when it’s not good, it’s like having a conversation with a student in a Psych 101 class who wants to tell you about a dream they had last night and what it might mean. It leaves the series as a rambling journey that some will find charming and others frustrating.
Promising themes dissolve, episode by episode, into something more like forced quirkiness, revealing a buried conventionality, the curse of way too much cool-looking TV. ... Even an unreal world needs characters who make sense, particularly in a series that is as gooily devoted to exploring those characters’ inner lives as Maniac turns out to be. On this level, the show is half-baked and inconsistent.
Thrilling, laugh out loud hilarious, thought provoking, and a non-stop fountain of fresh ideas! This is my favorite show of the past few years. The whole cast shines, with Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, and Justin Theroux at peak performance. I can't recommend this flawless show strongly enough. It should win all the Emmys.
Brilliant. So glad I found this on a "watch if you liked The OA list", it fit what I was hoping for almost perfectly (much better than Russian Doll).
(It's a shame it's so hard to find this title on here, after the diphits running MC decided to bury everything made by Netflix in the search results.)
Incredibly interesting but dare I say not very fun at all. Unless you actually read that the series is supposed to be a dark comedy as well as drama not a lot of the jokes land and their weirdness can be attributed to the "wackiness" of the characters.