Main Cast: Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux, Sonoya Mizuno, Gabriel Byrne, Sally Field
Main Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
“Maniac” is a psychological dark drama miniseries on Netflix. The show consists of 10 episodes (so far) that follow the story of Owen Milgram, a schizophrenic, and Annie Landsberg, a drug addict. They are trying together to take an experimental test of taking pills meant to dispel all the sadness of the human spirit. The series was released on September 21, 2018.
“Maniac” is a terrible reminder for its viewers of how people with mental disorders are misunderstood, mishandled and rejected by society to absolute social isolation. “Maniac” discusses two main aspects that are under esteemed and who become every day more threatening. The first aspect is self-explanatory: dependence, depression and neglect. Owen and Annie, though two completely different individuals and driven by different circumstances end up going to the same experimental center only because they have been neglected by society. Owen is a schizophrenic office worker who is forced to quit his job because of the visualization of imaginary personalities with whom he interacts. Rather than help him, the employment staff simply invited him to take a break until he had nothing left to do. At the other end, Annie, another social offender, has a borderline personality disorder. She becomes dependent on the pills she takes to fight her depression because of her inner demons. Two individuals, two mental illnesses, neglected by the same society.
The second, even more tragic, theme is the lack of support from their parents. Although they are aware of the symptoms, many parents and family members prefer to ignore the mental problems faced by their loved ones.
The two themes are intimately linked, because ignorance is what induces indefinitely isolation, depression and possible dependence. In Owen’s case, his rich and seemingly selfish parents do not recognize him (even going so far as not to put him on family photos). They do their utmost to ignore his illness, as it may tarnish their reputation and social status. Even though their other son, Owen’s brother, is a criminal, he prefers him to Owen.
On the other hand, we understand that Annie’s situation is ultimately only the culmination of the accumulation of traumas suffered since childhood with resigning parents.
The show explains perfectly what family support means for victims and how ignorance can lead to extreme circumstances.
In short, the show beautifully depicts the pain and grief of the victims in such a manner which truly moves the viewers. In between the sequences, we get to see a touch of comedy as well which comes as a sigh of relief. More importantly, the message displayed in the show is a sign for every parent, brother, and sister out there as to how their mental illness will not be ignored and that it is okay to be not okay at times.
Today is World Mental Health Day (celebrated annually on October 10). The purpose of this day is to raise awareness and rein in the stigmatization of people with mental disorders. I found it particularly appropriate to take the opportunity to tell you about this series. Maniac recalls that what could really improve the condition of people with mental illnesses is support and compassion. The underlying message of Maniac is that what is unacceptable is not having a mental illness, it is the way in which these people are rejected and ignored by society.