Yesterday Netflix released a batch of first-look photos of their new series, Maniac, which is a “psychological black comedy” and not another remake of the slasher classic of the same name. If you examine these photos closely, you will notice Maniac stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, reuniting a decade after Superbad. Netflix is being hush-hush about it, but Maniac is adapted from a Norwegian comedy series, so we know it’s about patients trapped after a pharmaceutical trial goes awry. Judging from the photos, Stone and Hill are patients and I assume the machine they’re plugged into has to do with the haywire trial.
Besides the Superbad reunion happening in front of the camera, the cast is STACKED. Stone and Hill are joined by Sally Field, Justin Theroux, Jemima Kirke, Sonoya Mizuno (the once and future Araminta Lee), and Julia Garner, lately of Waco and also Ozark. The women in Waco got short-changed—disturbingly so, as the series really soft-pedaled David Koresh’s habit of “marrying” underage girls—but Garner popped as the lone representative of his, er, “child brides”. It’s impossible to tell anymore what shows will or won’t catch the zeitgeist—Peak TV has killed the water cooler show—but I hope Maniac does at least well enough to give Mizuno and Garner a boost. They’re both on my list of Actresses That Should Be A Thing. I’ve given up on Juno Temple breaking out, but am still waiting on Bel Powley, and Gemma Chan is right on the cusp. Maniac will be the Stone and Hill show, but maybe it can propel Mizuno and Garner a little closer to center stage (especially Mizuno, who combines this appearance with Crazy Rich Asians later this summer).
Another reason to get excited for Maniac is that it is directed by Cary Fukunaga. It’s his first directorial gig since Beasts of No Nation, and as he did with True Detective, Fukunaga directed all ten episodes of Maniac (the entire series script was written by Patrick Somerville). Cary Fukunaga is dangerously close to my “will watch anything, regardless” list, and indeed, my primary interest in Maniac is seeing what he does with such a high concept. Patients in a drug trial, trapped inside their minds when something goes wrong—that is a VERY high concept. Can Fukunaga make a show stranger than Legion, TV’s strangest show? We’ll see at some indeterminate date in the future, since Netflix offers no information about the release date.