Maniac: Why Netflix’s new mini-series starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill is the most anticipated TV show of 2018

The Superbad actors reunite in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s mind-bending, genre-defying TV show.

It’s been named the most anticipated television show of 2018, so if your Netflix watch list is already as long as your arm, you might need to put some other shows on hold once Maniac drops on Friday, September 21.

An adaptation of a Norwegian TV series of the same name - albeit set in a clinical drug trial, as opposed to a mental asylum - Maniac is a mind-bending, genre-defying TV show.

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Here's why everyone’s talking about Maniac...

What is Maniac about?


Maniac tells the stories of Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone) and Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill), two strangers drawn to the late stages of a mysterious pharmaceutical trial, each for their own reasons.  

Annie is disaffected and fixated on broken relationships with her mother and her sister, while 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 that claims it can repair anything about the mind, be it mental illness or heartbreak, draws them into a three-day drug trial.

The trial involves a sequence of pills invented by Dr. James K. Mantleray (Justin Theroux, The Leftovers). Annie and Owen are assured they’ll see no complications or side-effects whatsoever, and all their problems will be solved, permanently.

As you may have guessed, things do not go quite as planned.

[Read more: BT TV's pick of the best shows to watch on Netflix this September]

Watch the official trailer for Maniac

You'll like Maniac if you loved…

Westworld, The Alienist, True Detective, Mr. Robot, The Leftovers, Stranger Things, The Bridge.

Three reasons why everyone’s talking about Maniac…

1. The Emma Stone and Jonah Hill reunion


The pair started their careers on the small screen, before working together on the 2007 comedy film, Superbad (above). In the decade since Superbad was released, they’ve both gone on to have stellar film careers and have both been recognised at the Oscars, with Hill receiving a nomination for Moneyball and Stone winning the Best Actress statuette for La La Land.

The pair are also executive producers on Maniac, and their performances have already attracted rave reviews, with Daniel D'Addario writing in Variety that the series marks a career high for them both.

The series also stars Justin Theroux (The Leftovers), Jemima Kirke (Girls) and Oscar winner Sally Field (Forrest Gump, Brothers & Sisters).

2. The minds behind Maniac

Cary Fukunaga

Maniac marks director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s first return to TV since he directed series 1 of True Detective, for which he won an Emmy - he directed the movie Beasts of No Nation in between these small-screen projects.

In an interview with The New York Times, Fukunaga (above) said he wanted to work on something that was genre-defying.

He said: "I wanted to do something that allowed me to play around with different genres.”

The series was written by Patrick Somerville (The Bridge, The Leftovers). He’s called Maniac the "spiritual distant cousin" of the latter.

[Read more: Maniac world premiere in pictures]

3. It'll have you questioning reality

Justin Theroux

The show sees Annie and Owen switch between reality and fantasy - but there’s no reassurance of what ‘normal’ is for the pair.

We see them confused and disoriented in the drug trial run by Dr Mantleray (Justin Theroux, above), but writer Somerville wants us to feel confused too.

He told the NY Times: “I want the audience to feel slightly disoriented about what reality is. I think that’s cool.

“Reality is weird!”

There’s no ‘normal’ in the show, which Stone says is the "core message" of Maniac.

The actress herself has been open about her own struggles with anxiety.

She told ‘It’s normal to not feel normal. [When you’re] dealing with stuff internally, to reach out and connect with people is vital.

“In this day and age, we tend to isolate ourselves under the guise of connection. We kind of have our own bubbles that we can live in, but it’s important to reach out, and rely on each other.”

Maniac is available to stream on Netflix from Friday, September 21.

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Images: Netflix / Rex Features

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