|Created by||Patrick Somerville|
|Directed by||Cary Joji Fukunaga|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||26–47 minutes|
|Original release||September 21, 2018|
Maniac is an American dark comedy web television miniseries that premiered on September 21, 2018 on Netflix. Based on the Norwegian television series of the same name by Espen PA Lervaag, Håakon Bast Mossige, Kjetil Indregard, and Ole Marius Araldsen, the series was created by Patrick Somerville, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, and stars Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux, Sonoya Mizuno, Gabriel Byrne, and Sally Field.
Maniac follows "Annie Landsberg and Owen Milgrim, two strangers drawn to the late stages of a mysterious pharmaceutical trial, each for their own reasons. Annie is disaffected and aimless, fixated on broken relationships with her mother and her sister; Owen, the fifth son of wealthy New York industrialists, has struggled his whole life with a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia. Neither of their lives have turned out quite right, and the promise of a new, radical kind of pharmaceutical treatment—a sequence of pills its inventor, Dr. James K. Mantleray, claims can repair anything about the mind, be it mental illness or heartbreak—draws them and ten other strangers to the facilities of Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech for a three-day drug trial that will, they’re assured, with no complications or side-effects whatsoever, solve all of their problems, permanently."
Cast and characters
- Emma Stone as Annie Landsberg, a woman who dwells unhealthily on her imperfect relationships with her mother and sister. Stone also portrays Linda Marino and Arlie Kane in the B-pill induced dreams.
- Jonah Hill as Owen Milgrim, the son of a wealthy family who potentially has schizophrenia. Having decided to make his way without his family's assistance, Milgrim struggles to hold a job and provide for himself. Hill also portrays Bruce Marino and Oliver "Ollie" Hightower in the B-pill induced dreams.
- Justin Theroux as Dr. James K. Mantleray, a scientist working on the Neberdine Pharmaceutical Biotech (NPB) experiment. Previously removed from the experiment's team, Mantleray is brought back on following the death of Dr. Robert Muramoto.
- Sonoya Mizuno as Dr. Azumi Fujita, a scientist who runs the NPB experiment. She feels immense pressure to provide results from the experiment to her superiors.
- Gabriel Byrne as Porter Milgrim, a wealthy industrialist and father to Owen and his siblings.
- Sally Field as Dr. Greta Mantleray, a famous therapist and the mother of Dr. James K. Mantleray. Field also voices GRTA, a smart computer used in the NPB experiment that has a deeply emotional relationship with Dr. Muramoto and reacts strongly to his death.
- Kathleen Choe as 3, a test subject in the NPB experiment.
- Danny Hoch as 5, a test subject in the NPB experiment.
- Allyce Beasley as 11, a test subject in the NPB experiment.
- Stephen Hill as 7, a test subject in the NPB experiment.
- James Monroe Iglehart as Carl, an employee of Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech working on the NPB experiment.
- Dai Ishiguro as Head Control Tech
- Sejal Shah as First Medical Tech
- Billy Magnussen as Jed Milgrim, Owen's brother who is put on trial for sexual misconduct. Magnussen also portrays Grimsson, a man whom Owen hallucinates that looks identical to Jed.
- Julia Garner as Ellie Landsberg, Annie's deceased younger sister whose death she feels responsible for.
- Nate Craig
- Jemima Kirke as Adelaide, Jed's fiancée whom Owen has feelings for.
- Jesse Magnussen
- Alexandra Curran as Holly Milgrim
- Rome Kanda as Dr. Robert Muramoto, a colleague of Dr. Fujita.
- Aaralyn Anderson as Belle Milgrim / Danielle Marino / Australia
- Cailin Loesch as McMurphy Twin / Lady of Arquesta
- Hannah Loesch as McMurphy Twin / Lady of Arquesta
- Trudie Styler as Owen's mother
- Christian DeMarais as Mike Milgrim
- Geoffrey Cantor as Frank, the Milgrim family's lawyer that is representing Jed.
- Ramya Pratt as Vicky / Green Hoodie Woman
- Josh Pais as Andy
- Ariel Kavoussi
- Mike Masters
- Grace van Patten as Olivia Meadows, Owen's former crush whom he yelled at while experiencing his first BLIP (brief and limited psychosis).
- Lev Gorn as Sokolov
- Hank Azaria as Hank Landsberg, Annie's father
- Selenis Leyva as Patricia Lugo
- Mariko Kai
- Maho Honda as Intake Tech
- Leo Fitzpatrick as Lance, a smuggler of exotic wildlife for use in clothing and one of Sebastian's two sons.
- Jojo Gonzalez as Agent Lopez, a New York Fish and Wildlife officer searching for a ring-tailed lemur taken from the nursing home that Linda works at.
- Maxine Prescott
- Joseph Sikora as JC, a smuggler of exotic wildlife for use in clothing and one of Sebastian's two sons.
- David Fierro
- Glenn Wein
- Jacqueline Grabois as Annie's Roommate
- Jonathan Rentler as Greg Nazlund, a semi-truck driver who crashed into Annie's car five years ago killing her sister Ellie.
- Zac Shearon as Young Boy in a Truck / Young Soldier
- Lauren Banks as Winged Nymph / Prosecutor
- Marcus Toji as Calvin ("Windmills"), Annie's drug dealer that initially supplies her with NPB's A-pills, to which she is addicted. She goes to him for more and, after informing her that he is all out, suggests that she sign up for one of NPB's drug studies.
- Glenn Fleshler as Sebastian ("Furs by Sebastian"), the owner of a fur shop, Furs by Sebastian, that is creating clothing out of exotic animals. Linda and Bruce attempt to take back a ring-tailed lemur that he had stolen from them.
- Jennifer Ikeda as Therapist ("Option C"), Owen's therapist at the Horton Psychiatric Facility where he is sent after condemning his brother in court.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"The Chosen One!"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Patrick Somerville||September 21, 2018|
|Owen Milgrim suffers from a severe case of schizophrenia where the world around him appears to shake and he is visited by a man named Grimsson (who looks like his brother Jed) who keeps reminding him that he is on a mission of some kind. His family runs a successful industrial business but are planning on abandoning Jed when he is accused of sexual misconduct, something Owen plans on defending him from. Eventually, Owen is fired from his job and refuses his father's offer of working with the company. He hears about Neberdine and signs on to test their new drug. While there, he meets the anti-social Annie Landsberg who Grimsson explains is the agent he needs to see. After speaking to her, Annie confirms her association to him, but tells him not to "blow [their] cover". Owen complies as he prepares for the tests.|
|2||"Windmills"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Patrick Somerville||September 21, 2018|
|3||"Having a Day"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Patrick Somerville & Caroline Williams||September 21, 2018|
|4||"Furs by Sebastian"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Patrick Somerville & Nick Cuse||September 21, 2018|
|5||"Exactly Like You"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Caroline Williams & Mauricio Katz||September 21, 2018|
|6||"Larger Structural Issues"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Patrick Somerville & Nick Cuse||September 21, 2018|
|7||"Ceci N'est Pas Une Drill"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Amelia Gray & Danielle Henderson||September 21, 2018|
|8||"The Lake of the Clouds"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Mauricio Katz & Nick Cuse||September 21, 2018|
|9||"Utangatta"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Patrick Somerville||September 21, 2018|
|10||"Option C"||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Patrick Somerville & Cary Joji Fukunaga||September 21, 2018|
On March 18, 2016, it was announced that Paramount Television and Anonymous Content were producing a television series to be directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. The half-hour dark comedy series was reported to be executive produced by Fukunaga, Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, Michael Sugar, and Doug Wald. Ashley Zalta was also announced as a co-executive producer. At the time, the series was being shopped to various networks and was searching for a writer. Less than a week later, it was announced that Netflix was finalizing a deal for a straight-to-series order for a first season consisting of ten episodes. On October 21, 2016, it was announced that Patrick Somerville would write the series. On July 29, 2018, it was announced the during the annual Television Critics Association's summer press tour that the series would premiere on September 21, 2018.
Alongside the initial series announcement, it was reported that Emma Stone and Jonah Hill were finalizing deals to star in the series. In August 2017, it was announced that Sonoya Mizuno had been cast as a series regular and that Justin Theroux and Julia Garner would appear in a recurring capacity. On September 13, 2017, it was reported that Jemima Kirke had been cast in a recurring role. On October 5, 2017, it was announced that Sally Field had joined the cast in a recurring role. On February 23, 2018, it was reported Billy Magnussen been cast in the series.
On April 18, 2018, Netflix released the first official images from the series. On July 29, 2018, a teaser trailer for the series was released. About a week later, the official trailer was released.
On September 13, 2018, the series held its world premiere at the Southbank Centre in London, England. On September 20, 2018, the series held its American premiere at Center 415 in New York City.
The series has been met with a positive response from critics upon its premiere. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an 85% approval rating, with an average rating of 7.78 out of 10 based on 40 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Maniac enthralls with its dazzling visuals, adventurous narrative, and striking performances from both Emma Stone and Jonah Hill." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the series a score of 76 out of 100 based on 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
In a positive review, Variety's Daniel D'Addario commended the series saying, "The beautifully made Maniac plunges viewers into a fictional world that’s both divergent from our own and instantly recognizable — and then reinvents itself several times over, skittering across time, space and genre to tell a story of connection that feels urgent and deeply, painfully human...As a trial of something new, Maniac passes every test, and ascends instantly to take its place among the very best TV of the year." In another favorable assessment, The Washington Post's Hank Stuever described the series as "oddly mesmerizing" and offered it qualified praise saying, "Maniac starts off too absorbed in its own complicated structure, but once Owen and Annie are strapped in at the lab (and experience an accidental melding of their subconscious states), the show becomes a visually compelling romp through highly detailed dreams and personal discoveries."
In a more negative critique, Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly awarded the series a grade of "C-" and criticized it saying, "For all its manic poses and deflationary snark, it’s ultimately patronizingly sentimental. [...] Maniac asks big questions about reality, and then settles for the limpest possible cinematic representations of that reality."
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