• Network: Netflix
  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 21, 2018
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Sep 20, 2018
    100
    Netflix’s Maniac is a fascinating, brilliant show, and one of my favorites of 2018. We should expect no less from the creative voices behind “The Leftovers” and “True Detective,” but this show still found a way to surprise me episode after episode. ... Maniac plays with genre and dramatic expectations to gain insight into the human condition in ways that other programs can’t touch.
  2. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    Sep 19, 2018
    100
    It is wild, audacious, addictive, and teeters so precariously between reality and fantasy that the audience will immediately question what’s real and what isn’t. The bold ten-episode series, one of the fall season’s best, repeatedly bounces in and out of its characters’ brains and hop-skips from genre to genre, yet somehow avoids spiraling out of control even when what transpires detours further into WTF-ville.
  3. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    Sep 13, 2018
    100
    Maniac is a crescendo across genres that doesn’t stop building. ... Its power comes, in part, from its refusal to sprawl. As a trial of something new, Maniac passes every test, and ascends instantly to take its place among the very best TV of the year. Its eagerness to expose unexpected angles is its great gift.
  4. Reviewed by: Tim Surette
    Sep 20, 2018
    95
    Don't let the weird tag scare you off; Maniac is the boldest, most unique, flippin' strange masterpiece of 2018.
  5. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Sep 20, 2018
    91
    Maniac, for its part, throws down a tale that swerves to the left and swerves to the right without ever losing velocity. But seeing is believing while not believing what you’re seeing is also part of the experience.
  6. Reviewed by: Kelly Lawler
    Sep 20, 2018
    88
    Stone and Hill are skilled, magnetic actors who ground the series even at its most absurd. ... In Maniac, form follows function, and as its heroes reckon with the confusing beauty of their own minds, the viewer reckons with the strange allure of this oddball TV show.
  7. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Sep 19, 2018
    88
    Mostly--and occasionally despite itself--Maniac is just fun, at points raucously funny. ... Dive in, don't think, enjoy. You most likely will, by the way.
  8. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Sep 20, 2018
    83
    Maniac’s backstories are fascinating, with Owen’s family coming off especially twisted. ... With so many film stars turning to TV to star in TV shows, they can start to feel like vanity projects. That’s not the case with Maniac.
  9. Reviewed by: Erik Adams
    Sep 19, 2018
    83
    Maniac is one of the year’s most refreshing series and a series that always seems 10 seconds away from declaring, “The most complicated computer of all is the human mind.” It’s hypnotizing eye candy that won’t completely nourish the brain or the soul, but it will satiate them for a little bit.
  10. Reviewed by: Ben Travers
    Sep 13, 2018
    83
    The many tonal shifts aren’t always well-finessed, but the star-studded, wildly ambitious miniseries serves up enough brilliant flourishes to leave a mark.
  11. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Sep 21, 2018
    80
    This 10-episode limited series is fascinatingly trippy, just this side of the even trippier “Legion.” ... The acting is, as expected, potent, with Gabriel Byrne and Sally Field also onboard, and the visuals are transporting.
  12. Reviewed by: Kevin Fallon
    Sep 20, 2018
    80
    Few shows are laid out this intricately or methodically, and the callbacks as the series progresses are gratifying and worth the effort of paying attention. This goes for Fukunaga’s winking, sumptuous direction; Stone and Hill’s challenging, ultimately miraculous performances; and Somerville’s tangled scripts. The process of uncoiling the knots might piss you off, but achieving it in the end feels like an accomplishment. Even if the achievement ends up being not as profound as you thought it might be.
  13. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Sep 20, 2018
    80
    Maniac is inventive and well-paced enough (the episodes clock in at a welcome 40 minutes or less) to breeze past its missteps. ... In an age of desiccated puzzle-stories, Maniac puts emotion first, even at the risk of sentimentality. It’s a heart-shaped Rubik’s Cube, a funny, consistently surprising fable of broken machines trying to reassemble themselves.
  14. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Sep 19, 2018
    80
    The audacity and eccentricity of the thing comes as a welcome jolt to a Peak TV universe where too many shows are capable but familiar, coherent but dull. Is it real? Hell if I know. Is it entertaining? Absolutely.
  15. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Sep 19, 2018
    80
    Your results may vary depending on how important it is to you to have mental illness, grief, unhappiness and other important Big Ideas fully explored via characters you come to love. This theory will be put to the test in the middle stretches of the 10-episode run of Maniac, where Fukunaga truly gets unleashed. It's there where aesthetics tend to win over sustained attention to the core issues of the series--but there's no denying that it's hard to look away from almost any portion of what's going on.
  16. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Sep 13, 2018
    80
    There’s a fusion here between modern melancholia and those romps where potential lovers keep encountering one another in skips through time, which sounds tedious but works somewhat splendidly, once the series gets going. ... Hill and Stone are both terrifically capable at conveying the series’s many moods, while Theroux looks especially grateful to be hamming it up after so much deeply-furrowed frowning in “The Leftovers.”
  17. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    Sep 21, 2018
    70
    For better and worse, it’s like a psychedelic Hallmark card: gorgeous, clever, weird, but maybe you’ve heard the sentiment before.
  18. Reviewed by: Michael Haigis
    Sep 28, 2018
    63
    The conclusion of Maniac is only slightly ambiguous, and testifies clearly to the simplified truth that embracing human connectivity opens a person up to the power of healing. This saccharine conclusion fits the series, which, while impressive for its detailed and certainly imaginative world building, rarely dares to truly confound its audience--or challenge us with an assessment of mental health that doesn’t amount to hallmark sentimentality.
  19. Reviewed by: Todd VanDerWerff
    Sep 21, 2018
    60
    Maniac isn’t weird enough to really achieve what it wants to, but it does say something--however accidentally--about how reality is already weird enough.
  20. Reviewed by: Allison Keene
    Sep 13, 2018
    60
    When Maniac is good, it’s funny, affecting, and fascinating; when it’s not good, it’s like having a conversation with a student in a Psych 101 class who wants to tell you about a dream they had last night and what it might mean. It leaves the series as a rambling journey that some will find charming and others frustrating.
  21. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Sep 21, 2018
    55
    The undisciplined nature of the human mind -- which Fukunaga seeks to illustrate -- can present a frustrating maze to navigate. While the leads, especially Stone, are fine, their performances sometimes struggle against the off-kilter nature of the material.
  22. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    Sep 21, 2018
    50
    A big, weird, tightly controlled mess of a show. It swings for the bleachers and doesn't always connect--and when it does, it can seem to skip some bases or run them out of order. But it does keep swinging and running. ... But Stone, an actress of alchemical gifts--she can turn lead to gold--is marvelous at every turn, in every version and inversion of her character.
  23. Reviewed by: Darren Franich
    Sep 13, 2018
    42
    Where The Leftovers successfully turned supporting roles into three-dimensional showcase star turns, this series reduces even the major characters to bare backstory essentials, poses of emotion. ... For all its manic poses and deflationary snark, it’s ultimately patronizingly sentimental.
  24. Reviewed by: Emily Nussbaum
    Sep 20, 2018
    40
    Promising themes dissolve, episode by episode, into something more like forced quirkiness, revealing a buried conventionality, the curse of way too much cool-looking TV. ... Even an unreal world needs characters who make sense, particularly in a series that is as gooily devoted to exploring those characters’ inner lives as Maniac turns out to be. On this level, the show is half-baked and inconsistent.
User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 196 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 32 out of 196
  1. Sep 21, 2018
    10
    It is amazing and so well-done. The cast is also perfect. It gets more and more exciting every episode. Iconic!!!!
  2. Sep 24, 2018
    9
    Cary Joji Fukunaga is quickly turning into a real force in filmmaking. I say filmmaking because Maniac is quite possibly the most cinematicCary Joji Fukunaga is quickly turning into a real force in filmmaking. I say filmmaking because Maniac is quite possibly the most cinematic miniseries ever to grace Netflix. Cinematic not exclusively in looks and special effects, but overall story, character-building and pacing.

    I watched Maniac as a 300 minute movie and loved almost every minute of it. This is an inventive deep look at psycho-therapy and mental illness, and how people handle trauma, in a very realistic manner. The characters of Annie and Owen are realized to a high degree by talents of Jonah Hill and Emma Stone (weird seeing them together so long after Superbad, a real then-and-now story for both of these Academy Award nominated actors). Emma Stone knocks this one out of the park with her nuanced and highly informed portrayal of a deeply disturbed character. Jonah Hill works out of his comfort zone and plays it totally straight and haunted, letting his eyes and pensive expressions do the work. Apart from an unfortunate yet strangely compelling Icelandic accent/character turn, he shows us how much he has grown as a dramatic actor. However, every scene of Jonah is definitely outclassed by Emma, clearly the heavyweight in the room.

    Sally Fields and Justin Theroux round out the ensemble. Sally Fields is a delight every time, but Justin Theroux hams it up to an extent that feels a little jarring, even though this is supposed to be a comedy. It should be noted that Justin's introductory (masturbatory?) scene is one of the highlights of the entire show, but he quickly moves from that to just a sort of cheesy ham performance, which, after performances like in The Leftovers, feels strangely inconsistent. He probably needed to workshop his character and hammer out a few kinks, which would have made this a well-rounded character study of three flawed and disturbed humans.

    A revelation to me was Sonoya Mizuno who is also a standout in terms of screen presence and physical acting. I wish her a good future in TV/movies, would like to see more of her.

    Another standout performance is by Billy Magnussen, who has been popping up in supporting roles in many shows and movies, but this is the role where he truly shines and creates a veritable place for himself among actors who can give a compelling performance. He has a dual role in the show, and he plays both roles (a sort of yin-yang thing) with talent usually not seen from people other than veteran thespians.

    The production value of this show surprised me: there were details woven into every set and costume, both of which were movie-quality. But where the show comes truly alive are with the scenes in which a certain genre takes hold of the episode. Many genres are explored, from an 80s couple heist movie to a Departed-style gangster movie to a nod to Tolkien's fantasy. (The seance episode should receive awards considerations.) Each of these are handled perfectly and you, with the characters, are transported into these worlds. These are not gimmicks either, each of them is used as a vessel for the study of these characters and their connections despite of themselves.

    One of my favorite movies is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind. I love movies where science fiction provides the setting to explore the human condition. It is funny, as both Jim Carrey and Michael Gondry, who directed Eternal Sunshine, have teamed up to work on a new show airing now. But I think Fukunaga and Patrick Sommerville have achieved an endlessly entertaining character study similar to Eternal Sunshine, showing us that there is still hope for new and creative shows to come out in this cynical age of recycled ideas.

    Weirdness was handled perfectly in this show, which is good because I was an evangelical supporter of Legion, whose Season 2 has since left a bad taste in my mouth. Maniac is like a breath of fresh air for weirdness enthusiasts. Hope is not yet lost. Thanks, Netflix. This one was definitely worth it.
    Full Review »
  3. Sep 21, 2018
    1
    I was excited about this due to the casting but...it's a huge miss. Emma Stone is fine in it. But Jonah Hill is NOT a serious dramatic actor.I was excited about this due to the casting but...it's a huge miss. Emma Stone is fine in it. But Jonah Hill is NOT a serious dramatic actor. He sucks the life out of the whole series. If they would have went with someone more dramatically inclined, the show could have been easier to get through. Overall, a muddled, slow moving and sadly, pointless, series. I got through the whole thing and wasn't sure what it was supposed to be about. Skip this one! Full Review »