Mental health is a conversation that, in recent years, has come to the forefront and is widely talked about. Taking these types of health concerns seriously has been both beneficial and controversial in the United States.
Some believe that mental health can “just be cured” and others believe it that it is a lifelong illness, but can be managed in a number of different ways.
Netflix original series “Maniac” is an interesting take on both sides of this argument. The premise of the show follows Owen, Jonah Hill, and Annie, Emma Stone, and their journey of trying to cure their mental health and psychological struggles through a trial with pharmaceutical drugs.
Both characters have different reasons for doing this trial and both face their own struggles throughout. Emma has a hard, strained relationship with her mom and sister while Owen is clearly dealing with a very serious mental illness, potentially schizophrenia, and delusions of saving the world.
Several themes are presented in the show and in the dreams of those involved in the study and could lead to some interesting discussion. Something to note was the oedipal relationship seen with Dr. Mantleray and his mother.
This triangle of child, mom and dad is significant to Annie and Owen’s stories as well, but Mantleray literally goes blind after confronting his mother. Much like Oedipus stabs his own eyes out after romanticizing his mother.
If you enjoy Easter eggs in shows and movies, Maniac could be a show to consider watching. As we go from dream to dream with Annie and Owen each one can be connected to another if you watch close enough.
Not only does the show make you think about a variety of things, but it is also extremely aesthetically pleasing. Viewers get to see so many different fantasy worlds in the dreams of our characters, each one vastly different from the last. There are striking shots, this sort of vapor wave style of effects, and a really adventurous narrative.
It does require some serious attention with its deep themes and the characters often going into these surreal, drug-induced dreams all while following a, sort of, futuristic love story of the two main characters. The two main character’s “wires cross” during the pharmaceutical study and experience whole lives together in the dreams meant to help them confront, map, and cure their trauma. All in all, the Netflix original series presents a lot when it comes to human connection, the struggle to heal that people face in this harsh world.