Maniac: lucid dreams and confusing time setting

25.09.2018 | By ELENA LONGARI

The new Netflix TV show that aired just last Friday has got all the traits of some good quality narcotic. And the best part of it all is I have just managed to save myself from this new and powerful addiction, only for now as I have paused at the end of the first two episodes, to step back,  think and make some sense of it all, for you guys, the D360-wide-open minds.

I wasn’t going to be watching the first episodes of Maniac dry of any basic information on what the show was going to be about – also because I had to write a few words on it for our new Netflix TV show editorial. Yet I wasn’t prepared for this.

Let me be frank. I am not going to put my editor’s hat on and speculate till have breath on any single syllable or type of prop I have seen in these 80 minutes of Maniac . Instead, I am more interested in sharing with you the very same ‘user’ or ‘viewer’ experience the makers of the show wanted us all to experience, or better, the state of confusion and disorientating feel they wanted Maniac to install in all its soon to be bingers.


I wasn’t prepared to be completely and utterly messed about by these questions and after two episodes I am not absolutely sure I have a certain answer.


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When is Maniac set?

The first episode of this brand new Netflix TV series directed by Cary Fukunaga is all about introducing Owen. He wears a somewhat black skinny suit, tailored, with trainers. Now, is this now men styling for work? It could be, or instead one of fashion’s illusion of reviving itself from past eras?

But wait, hold on, it cannot be 2018: I have never seen in my life a computer that old. And I was here when a computer connecting to the Internet made a specific unmistakable sound.

If those two things didn’t add up, wait you get stuck on this thought: what’s the dog poop scooping robot about? Have we got them now, have scientists even thought of them for the future?


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What’s real and what’s not?

Jonah Hill is the main culprit here in misleading my brain cells even when they are attempting the easy task of lining up the straight pieces of this very complicated puzzle. My head is spinning, simply cannot work it out. Owen, his character, is the family’s black sheep, some sort of insurance company worker who suffers from some sort of mental disease. Jonah Hill acting skills have been recognised as undoubtedly crazy, but his weight loss has given him a new face to work with: he’s mastered the ultimate ‘depressed’ act.

But what he sees doesn’t always seem to coincide with reality, or it does, but how it gets to have an effect on real life situations is something impossible to get my head around. Owen’s family takes us to an unreal dimension, grotesque if you like: pictures on the walls you might have seen in some experimental horror movie, accompanied by cliché upper class after dinner conversation.


In the second episode, Emma Stone’s character is introduced: at this point my head was already hungry for answers and started paying closer attention to anything. Yet I got distracted by an AI purple Koala playing chess with Annie’s ‘dealer’. Can that still be the 90s? Or still a retro freaky future?


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The storyline: when does it kick in?

You all know by now what Maniac is about. The two protagonists following their own very unique and hard to comprehend reasons, decide to participate to a medical trial that apparently can override any sort of bad thought from their head. Point is, the two don’t actually start taking the first pills until towards the second half of the second episode.

It’s like the creators wanted to throw us in the same kind of shitty mess Owen and Annie’s had in their heads before you get to see what happens to them.

This isn’t pointless, this tactic doesn’t strike as a mere creative exercise. It serves you right with the right dose of excitement, leaving you baffled, unable to think, brain frozen yet wanting to get the next Netflix dose right up.

I have managed to stop at episode 2 to rush through this and make sure you get on it too.

[Now, somebody please turn off the voices in my head so that I can watch the third episode in piece.]


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