Crazy for Maniac

Last year, buzz spread around the south shore of Long Island, eagerly claiming that actors Jonah Hill and Emma Stone were filming a secret project right in our own backyard in Oceanside and Valley Stream. Fast forward to this September, the 10-episode limited series, Maniac, is released.

What is Maniac about? That is a loaded question. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, Maniac is about running: a man with schizophrenia (Jonah Hill), running from his family’s control, and a woman suffering from addiction (Emma Stone), running from her troubled past. But Maniac is more than a tale of quirky individuals finding one another in the strangest of situations, a pharmaceutical trial gone awry intended to eliminate the need for psychotherapy. Maniac gives the audience a look into the minds of humans very different from ourselves, or so we may at first believe. This series illustrates how inside of every human mind lives the same inhabitants: fear, jealousy, and regret, amongst others. In a unique fashion, this series jumps from dimension to dimension, genre to genre, teaching us about the world around us, and within us, while keeping our interest for 10 powerful episodes.

In a world filled with infinite volumes of empty media and thoughtless entertainment, Maniac is a breath of fresh air as much as it is a difficult pill to swallow. This series, unlike nearly all others of the time, makes us think. It makes us think about life, love, struggle, what it means to be human, how we connect with one another, and what we view as “insanity.” This is not the type of show you can watch with 50% of your attention while scrolling through Instagram. Maniac requires focus to watch, and more importantly, focus to digest, understand, and learn from. The series’ messages are not displayed in plain sight; they are hidden in the subtle nuances of the characters and the slight patterns in plot, only attainable by those who are truly looking.

It is certainly exciting to watch an episode of Maniac take place at the shops in Oceanside or the Valbrook Diner, but what is far more intriguing is the unique role that this series plays in today’s media. We live in a world where information is everywhere, constantly screaming for our attention so loud that we cannot hear ourselves think. This series does the opposite. The beautifully directed, extraordinarily acted series gives us so much silence to think, that we learn more about the pitfalls of the human condition than anything else on TV today begins to delve into. It is the impressiveness of this feat that leads me to believe that Maniac is not only one of the most entertaining things to watch right now, but that it also may be the most important, and thus, it should undoubtedly be at the top of your watchlist this season.